Writer:Soji-Eze Fagbemi -Abuja
leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has warned the governor of Benue, Osun, Plateau, Oyo and others states owing workers salaries to pay them or face a total industrial crisis in their respective states.
President of NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, said the fight against the owing governors will start from May 1, saying that the governors would face the wrath of the workers as from May Day.
He said the congress had already directed its members in affected states to commence mass protest from May 1, when Workers Day would be observed worldwide till May 29, when the outgoing governors would hand over to the new administration.
According to him, Benue, Plateau, Osun, and Oyo states are among the states that are owing workers salaries between three to eight months.
Speaking at the opening of the 9th Quadrennial National Delegates’ Conference of Medical and Health Workers’ Union of Nigeria (MHWUN) on Tuesday, Comrade Wabba said the states where workers are being owed salaries, would not enjoy the support of the congress and the workers.
Comrade Wabba, who is also the outgoing President of MHWUN said: “It is a position that we have already taken. In our message to all the state councils’ of NLC, we insisted that part of the decisions they have to take, which they have taken, was that they should not allow the governors that are serving out to go with their salary arrears.
“They should insist, including protests to their office, that those salaries must be paid. We see no reason that can be advanced for not paying those salaries. Salary is a legitimate earning of the workers; they are not doing a favour to a worker by paying him salary.
“We have about four to five states. I know Plateau for sure and Benue. We have already commissioned our state councils to do that effectively. From May Day, that’s when they will start the protest to the governors and even to their houses. We have taken a decision at the level of National Administration Council (NAC) and Central Working Committee. All the states have been effectively informed and directed to do so. The fight will start from May Day to May 29 when they will be doing handing over.”
He insisted that all state governors owning workers’ salaries must pay before they exit offices, noting that NLC would not relent until the new government pays the salary arrears.
The NLC president lamented the state of the nation’s health care delivery and called on the incoming government under President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari, to prioritise investment in health infrastructure, training and retraining of human resources and strive to attain set targets in the sector.
Quoting the Tell Magazine report, Comrade Wabba said Nigerians spend about N1trillion yearly on medical tourism, noting that such amount of money had revealed the state of decay in the nation’s health care infrastructure.
He said: “For us in the union, it is important that as articulated in the National Health Policy Document, that primary health care which accounts for 70 per cent of the health care requirements of all Nigerians is adequately funded, properly equipped and staffed with trained professionals.
The federal and state governments should provide universal health coverage through the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) which should extend coverage to rural communities.”
Comrade Wabba emphasised that concerted efforts must be made through transparent and verifiable commitment by both federal and state governments to better fund and equip the health institutions as well as infrastructure renewal.
“This is for us the necessary starting point in reversing the migration of Nigerian health workers away from the country to overseas to ply their professional trades,” he added.
Also speaking, a deputy president of the NLC, Mr Peters Adeyemi, called on Nigerian workers to commence the campaign to prevail on the outgoing governors to pay outstanding salaries to workers in the states.
He said that workers should not be made to bear the brunt of the mismanagement of the economy as they were not part of those who looted the economy.
Comrade Adeyemi said the governors owing workers’ salaries would not enjoy the support of the labour movement, stressing that it was the constitutional rights of workers to earn their salaries and not a favour.
He lamented that the governors who claimed that there was no money to pay salaries of workers were spending heavily during the last election.
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