From Victor Seyi, Ilorin
Deputy President, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Issa Aremu, has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for initiating bailout for states unable to pay salaries.
Aremu said the gesture has singled Buhari out as a labour-sensitive President.
He also praised the President for rejecting N400 million new official cars at a time the country was drawing on reserves to meet basic needs.
Aremu spoke on Sunday in an interview with reporters in Ilorin, Kwara State. The labour leader, however, noted that the nation “needs comprehensive systemic waste reduction programme beyond the exemplary gestures of Mr President”.
He lamented that “regrettably notwithstanding the appreciated presidential gesture, thousands of workers still observed the concluded Sallah without full pay. Many children of the workers will go hungry during this season of holidays.
“Ramadan is about sacrifice. However, for many workers, it was sacrifice before Ramadan and continuation of deprivation after Ramadan. This is unacceptable. Debtor-Governor-employers should pay up or face the wrath of workers everywhere,” Aremu added.
He urged President Buhari to ensure that bailed out state governors sign performance/ service delivery bonds with firm commitment to use the money for what it is meant for – paying workers’ salaries.
He congratulated Nigerian workers on the successful celebration of Eid-el- Fitr and commended the governors and employers who paid all their workers legitimate monthly salaries to celebrate Sallah.
Aremu pointed out that the incessant delay and non-payment of salaries has deepened the worsening poverty in the country.
He observed: “Working poor have been turned to working beggars. Nigeria cannot guarantee productivity and prosperity with this level of deprivation and poverty of the workers. Nigeria government at all levels should immediately initiate emergency and sustainable policies to reduce the current worsening poverty, failing which mass poverty
can lead to mass uprising capable of undermining Nigeria’s nascent democracy.
“Unpaid workers are hungry workers. Hungry workers are angry workers. With already frustrated millions of the unemployed, and insurgency fuelled by suicidal desperately poor, Nigeria risks mass national revolt of the poor if nothing is done to urgently alleviate
the worsening misery of the majority in the face of the opulence of the ruling class. Nigeria certainly has enough for all Nigerians’ needs, but not enough for the greed of the ruling class”.
The NLC official also felicitated with the progressive world on the occasion of “2015 Mandela Day.”
Aremu, who noted that the United Nations which Nigeria belongs, “encourages people to devote 67 minutes to helping others through one minute of charitable work for every year Mandela devoted to humanitarian service” said that “certainly Nigerian leaders need more than 67 minutes to reflect on how to replace existing corruption agenda with development agenda, mass poverty with mass prosperity, importation and smuggling with domestic industrialization, self-help selflessness with dependency with Self-reliance, subservience to foreign interest with patriotism and nationalism.