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*Seeks extension of deadline on new naira notes
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has once more urged workers in the country to ensure they use their votes to install credible leadership in the forthcoming general election.
It also said workers should ensure that they deny political parties and candidates with anti-people policies access to power.
At the same time, the NLC demanded for an urgent action to review the naira redesign project being implemented by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), including the extension of its timelines.
Speaking during an interactive session with labour reporters in Abuja, yesterday, the outgoing President of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba, said people were tired of all bad governance and the pain it has inflicted on the masses over the years.
He said workers were in large numbers in the country and there was no doubt that their impact would go a long way in installing a popular government in the coming election.
Wabba said: “We need more workers in politics and at the helm of affairs of government, those who can understand the perspective of workers.
“Our workers are already in the field mobilising and campaigning to make sure that only labour-friendly persons are elected into offices at the next general election. The labour party is already making head-way in Abia state. We are tired of those false promises by politicians,” he said.
Speaking on the resolve of the organised labour to support the presidential candidate of the Labour party, Peter Obi, the NLC president said the decision remaind sacrosanct, adding that both the party and the labour movement have sealed the agreement with acceptance of the workers Charter of Demand.
He, however, said the support for the Labour Party was not wholesome as the workers reserved the right to deny their support for any candidate that does not pass its integrity test or that goes against its Charter of Demand, especially at the state levels.
Against the background of the NLC’s complaint against some state governors who it accused of implementing anti-workers policies during their tenure, Wabba said workers in the affected states have been asked to reject the candidates being sponsored by them at the elections.
Wabba, also who was asked to comment on the naira redesign project of the CBN, described it as crisis-ridden, adding that the policy has created additional hardship for the poor Nigerians, especially those living in the rural areas.
He said the NLC was aligning itself with the position expressed by the Senate on the need to rejig the policy.
According to Wabba, the NLC has written President Muhammadu Buhari and the CBN Governor, demanding urgent measures to address the challenges posed by the implementation of the policy.
“I mean, they are not enough new naira notes in circulation and the old notes are being rejected, they are pushing people to the wall and very soon people will react.
“More importantly, even in city centres, where we have banks, the banks are not dispensing. If you go to do rural areas and see the chaotic nature of how people have come with their money even to change it is becoming a problem.
“No policy will be meant actually to haunt people like what is happening now. And we have called on the government to look at this issue very carefully before it leads to a major crisis,” he said.
The NLC president whose tenure would end in February this year, was taken up on some of government policies that generated labour dispute under his watch and which were yet to be resolved.
One of such issues was the unresolved negotiation on the right pricing of the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) of which final agreement was not reached before the current price increases.
When asked to comment on the situation, Wabba blame the federal government for not coming clean on its position on measures that would effectively put an end to the energy crisis.
He said there is currently confusion in the domestic petrol distribution system, to the extent that the regulatory bodies charged with the function of check the excesses of marketers are not doing anything about it.
He also blamed the federal government for not acceding to labour movement’s proposal to review the gas pricing template fueling the persistent hike in electricity tariff.
He explained that due to the gas price being calculated based on dollars, the electricity generating companies were finding justification to always hike their tariff.
Wabba, who used the opportunity to review achievements and challenges of his tenure at the helm of affairs of the labour centre, said he has been able to refocus the NLC and revived its structures into a formidable trade Union entity.
He, however, expressed regret that some of the efforts made by the NLC to negotiate and find lasting solution to major issues that affects workers welfare did not yield the desired fruit due to the government’s lack of commitment and flexibility to accept workable ideas.