COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF A MEETING OF THE NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COUNCIL (NEC) OF THE NIGERIA LABOUR CONGRESS (NLC) HELD ON WEDNESDAY 21ST AUGUST, 2019 AT BRISTOL PALACE HOTEL, KANO, KANO STATE

21st August, 2019

Preamble

A meeting of the National Executive Council (NEC) of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) took place on Wednesday, 21st August, 2019 at Bristol Palace Hotel, Kano, Kano State. The National Executive Council of the NLC comprises all the Presidents, General Secretaries and Treasurers of NLC’s affiliate unions; Chairpersons and Secretaries of State Councils; and members of the National Administrative Council of the Nigeria Labour Congress.

The NEC meeting was declared open by the Governor of Kano State, Dr. Umar Ganduje. The NEC appreciated the government and people of Kano State for their hospitality and excellent hosting of the meetings of Congress Organs.

The NEC meeting of 21st August, 2019 reviewed a State of the Nation Report which highlighted increasing insecurity, poor state of public infrastructure, and dwindling performance of the national economy.

The meeting also considered reports on the ongoing negotiation for consequential salary adjustment in the public service by the Joint Public Service Negotiating Council for public sector workers based on the enacted new national minimum wage of N30,000.

Furthermore, the NEC deliberated on other developments in the socio-economic and industrial relations milieu in Nigeria and the African region especially with regards to the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) which was recently ratified by the African Union.

The NEC meeting, among other reports, also considered the report of the Establishment Committee on the appointment of a new General Secretary to succeed the current General Secretary who is retiring and a Deputy General Secretary to fill the vacant position in the national secretariat of the Nigeria Labour Congress.

  1. Challenge of Insecurity

The NEC noted that there has been an increase in the wave of insecurity in Nigeria especially as marked by a resurgence in kidnapping for ransom, armed robbery, communal clashes and Boko Haram attacks.

The NEC expressed alarm at the recent confessions of a recently arrested bandit who disclosed that helicopters drop weapons for criminals thus suggesting possible collusion between criminal elements and big-time financiers of criminality.

The NEC also expressed worries over recent upsurge in attacks by Boko Haram terrorists who recently attacked three local governments of Gubio, Magumeri and Konduga in Borno North and the villages of Dille, Lassa, Ngurthlavu, Dagu, Yaffa, Maikadiri, and Kidlindila in Askira/Uba local government area of Borno South.

The NEC also observed that most of the victims of the renewed security breaches in the country are workers and poor citizens. The NEC noted with alarm the impact of the rising wave of criminality on the lives of citizens and the socio-economic conditions in Nigeria particularly its consequences for the attraction and retention of foreign investment.

Having considered the deleterious impact of insecurity on the lives of citizens and socio-economic conditions in Nigeria; the NEC

  1. REITERATED that the primary responsibility of government is the security of lives and property. On this premise, the NEC called on government at all levels in the country to rein in current resurgence in criminality and brigandage. The NEC called for improvement in the quality and quantity of policing deployed for the security of citizens and property. NEC emphasized the need for improved intelligence gathering and the use of technology as being of utmost importance as effective measures in the fight against crime, brigandage and terrorism; and
  1. RESOLVED that the NLC would convene a National Security Summit to dispassionately engage the current challenge of insecurity in Nigeria and proffer sustainable solutions. Prior to the proposed Security Summit, the NEC resolved that NLC would hold rallies across Nigeria to sensitize government and citizens on the need to urgently arrest the current drift in security.
  1. The Implementation of the New National Minimum Wage

The NEC noted with dismay the continued delay by the Federal Government and other tiers of government to implement the new national minimum wage of N30,000 as recently enacted. The NEC emphatically posited that the government can no longer hide under protracted negotiations with workers in the public sector for consequential salary adjustment based on the new national minimum wage to delay the implementation of the new national minimum wage.

After very vigorous deliberation on the need to immediately implement the national minimum wage, the NEC

  1. INSISTED that the payment of the new national minimum wage should commence immediately, effective from the day the New National Minimum Wage was assented to by Mr. President.
  1. Further Privatization through Divestment of 40% of Government Shares in DISCOs and GENCOs

The NEC noted with concern media reports of Federal government plans to divest 40% of its shares in DISCOs and GENCOs. The NEC also deplored the persistence of power outages and frustration of many electricity consumers in Nigeria through estimated billings.

Furthermore, the NEC rejected any increase in electricity tariff in the country. It was the conviction of the NEC that continuous hike in electricity tariff and persistent power outages present huge financial burden for businesses thus making goods and services produced in Nigeria not to be competitive as goods cum services produced elsewhere.

After due considerations, the NEC;

  1. REJECTED any attempt to divest 40% of public shares in DISCOs and GENCOs. The NEC described such a move as tantamount to rewarding poor performance. The NEC posited that instead of selling public shares in DISCOs and GENCOs, government should review and reverse the privatization of the power sector; and
  1. CALLED on government to further empower the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to prevail upon DISCOs to scrap the practice of estimated billings, enforce relevant laws and guidelines outlawing estimated billings and immediately deploy pre-paid meters to electricity consumers all over the country. This would be in line with earlier deadlines given by NERC to DISCOs to supply pre-paid meters to electricity consumers in the country; and
  1. While REJECTING further hike in electricity tariff, the NEC called on the government to make electricity available and affordable.
  1. Performance of the National Economy

The NEC noted the poor shape of the Nigerian economy especially as marked by prevailing high cost of living, widespread unemployment, mass poverty and galloping inequality gap.

The NEC also berated the absence of a National Tripartite Social Dialogue Forum in line with Convention 144 of the International Labour Organization (ILO). The NEC took exemptions to the failure of the government to inaugurate and institutionalize the National Labour Advisory Council (NLAC).

The NEC further observed with serious concern increase in sponsored campaign in the media for a hike in the price of refined petroleum products. The NEC noted that the persistent crisis in the downstream petroleum sub sector in Nigeria is occasioned by the failure of successive government to refine crude oil domestically thereby subjecting Nigeria to volatility in the international commodities market, a situation further exacerbated by the continuous devaluation of the Nigerian currency.

The NEC bemoaned the fact that Nigeria is the only member of the Oil Producing Export Countries (OPEC) which cannot refine its crude oil both for domestic use and for possible export.

Furthermore, the NEC also expressed concerns on the recent executive instructions to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to restrict access to official foreign exchange for all categories of food importation. NEC directed that a detailed analysis of this policy should be carried out once the full details were made public.

After robust debate on the national economy, the NEC;

  1. URGED government to take adequate steps to develop people oriented socio-economic policies to address endemic poverty and inequality faced by workers and citizens all over the country;
  1. COMMENDED the Federal government for the executive order mandating that the uniforms used by the military and para-military services, students, prisoners and other persons required to wear uniforms are produced in Nigeria. It was the considered view of the NEC that such policy directives go a long way in mobilizing support for locally produced goods and ensuring the competitiveness of local industries and manufacturers;
  1. UNANIMOUSLY rejected any move to increase the pump price of refined petroleum products. The NEC reiterated its position that any attempt to hike the pump price of refined petroleum products would amount to transferring the cost of inefficiency in the downstream petroleum sub-sector to the already impoverished and suffering masses of our people;
  1. The NEC urged Nigerian workers and people to be vigilant against any increase in the price of refined petroleum products. Government is, therefore, urged to fix the inefficiencies in the downstream petroleum sub sector;
  1. While the NEC awaits the final policy directives by the CBN on the restriction of access to official foreign exchange on food import in order to adopt a definite position, the NEC urged government to consider the fact that some food sources such as dairy products require essential foreign input for local production and should engage the concerned food industries in order to grant such food products relevant time-bound exemptions. The NEC encouraged government to initiate dialogue with stakeholders in the food industry to be affected by the policy directive. This is in order to encourage stable food prices and preserve the jobs of many Nigerians employed in the food processing industry and encourage the development of backward linkages;
  1. CALLED on government to demonstrate more commitment to economic expansion and diversification through robust and aggressive national infrastructural roll-out cum renewal; and
  1. The government should inaugurate and institutionalize the National Labour Advisory Council (NLAC) as a space for consultation between the social partners. It was the considered view of the NEC that the institutionalization of the NLAC would demonstrate government’s commitment to democratic ethos, respect for international labour standards and consideration for harmonious industrial relations in Nigeria.
  1. The African Continental Free Trade Agreement

The NEC was briefed on the recent ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). The NEC commended the Federal Government for robustly engaging social partners particularly organized labour and the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) prior to Nigeria’s ratification of the AfCFTA.

After due consideration, the NEC;

  1. URGED the Federal Government to robustly negotiate and finalize the clause on “The Rule of Origin” and “Sensitive Products” to ensure that goods traded within the AfCFTA have significant local content. The NEC also implored government to ensure protection of identified sensitive products. This is in order to pre-empt turning Nigeria into a dumping ground; and
  1. ENCOURAGED sister trade union centres in Africa to robustly engage their governments on AfCFTA implementation to protect the interest of workers and local economies in the continent.
  1. Protection of Civil Liberties Including Right to Peaceful Protests

The NEC reiterated the traditional position of Congress on the protection of fundamental human rights including the right to freedom of association and right to peaceful protest. The NEC urged government security agencies to ensure respect for those rights.

  1. Adoption of the Report of the Establishment Committee
  1. The NEC approved the Report of the Establishment Committee as recommended by the National Administrative Council (NAC) and the Central Working Committee (CWC) and thus appointed Comrade Emmanuel Ugboaja as the new General Secretary of the NLC to succeed Dr Peter Ozo-Eson and Comrade Ismail Bello to fill the vacant position of Deputy General Secretary; and
  1. The NEC approved that the Establishment Committee should undertake a re-organization of the national secretariat of the Nigeria Labour Congress for efficiency.

Comrade Ayuba Wabba, mni

President

Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson

General Secretary