April 21, 2024

NLC demands action on refineries, unmasking of “elite” oil marketers, expresses disappointment in President Tinubu’s national broadcast,

NLC President Joe Ajaero and President Bola Tinubu

Oredola Adeola

 

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has expressed disappointment in President Bola Tinubu’s address to Nigerians on Monday, criticizing his failure to address the resuscitation of Nigeria’s public refineries and blaming him for the failure to unmask the identities of the elites that he described as looters of Nigeria’s commonwealth under the guise of petrol subsidy.

 

The NLC President made this known in a statement reviewing President Tinubu’s national broadcast to Nigerians on current economic challenges.

 

According to him, unfortunately, the entire speech by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu was completely silent on the issue of the repair of our national refineries.

 

Ajaero said that the President’s statement leaves the Union with the impression that his promises and assurances are not the silver bullet that Nigerians expected.

 

According to him, the speech indeed appears to be out of touch with reality and anomalous with the hardship and suffering that most Nigerians are going through now.

 

He said that “First, the opening statement by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu conveyed a commitment to a better and productive economy.

 

Ajaero further blamed President Tinubu on his failure to unmask those behind the looting of Nigeria’s commonwealth under the guise of petrol subsidy.

 

He stated that the failure to announce the names of individuals and organisations behind the economic theft is, consistent with the Nigerian workers’ perception of the misalignment of Mr. President’s promises and offerings to the reality faced by millions of workers and ordinary Nigerians.

 

He said, “It is unacceptable for the President and Commander-in-Chief to lament like ordinary Nigerians about a group that Mr. President routinely referred to in his speech as the “elites of the elites” who have stolen so much from Nigeria that they have become so powerful as to constitute a threat to democratic governance.

 

He said, “What Nigerians expected from Mr. President is a firm commitment to bring these economic saboteurs to justice and recover what they have stolen.

 

Third, Mr. President’s statement on working with Organised Labour to review the national minimum wage is out of sync with what has played out since President Tinubu removed the so-called petrol subsidy.

 

Ajaero said that in all the meetings scheduled by the government, the Organised Labour has been forced to negotiate with empty chairs on the Federal Government’s side as the Federal Government has not matched its public promises with firm commitment to negotiate in good faith with labour.

 

“As a matter of fact, the sub-committee on wage award has not been inaugurated and has not met.

 

“Furthermore, Organised Labour is disturbed that while President Tinubu in his speech lavishly praised the Private Sector for quickly dispensing wage award to their employees, the Federal Government has failed to do the same for public workers in its employment. This is a clear case of failing woefully to live up to the standards it has set for others to meet.

 

“It is open knowledge that the review of the national minimum wage is a matter of the law which is expected to happen in 2024. How would Nigerian workers cope with the current reality of hyperinflation and suffering unleashed by the hasty removal of the so-called petrol subsidy till 2024 when the national minimum wage would be reviewed? This is incredible!” he said.

 

Ajaero emphasised that President Tinubu’s claims of interventions by the Federal Government through palliatives, loans and conditional grants to poor Nigerians, big manufacturing concerns and small businesses and provision of CNG buses, “remain what they are – promises!”

 

He said that Nigerians are used to such promises which have never produced any verifiable and meaningful changes in the lives of citizens.

 

The NLC President further said, “For many Nigerians, it is incomprehensible that the principal actors in the current government including Mr. President himself were clear in 2012 on the need to tackle the fundamental issues that brought about petrol subsidy.

 

He said, “Those issues included the failure of previous governments to repair our national refineries and bring those behind the monumental subsidy sleaze to book. Today, these issues were swept under the carpet in President Tinubu’s speech. Nigerians wonder “what has changed?”

 

Ajaero therefore reminded Nigerians that the NLC remains committed to matching discussions with government with the current realities of sufferings that Nigerians are going through.

 

He insisted that until the Organised Labour see real commitment by government to do the needful to improve the lot of Nigerians and ameliorate the sufferings workers and ordinary Nigerians are going through, the Nigerian workers remain committed to continue with their struggle.