COMMUNIQUE OF THE CENTRAL WORKING COMMITTEE (CWC) OF THE NIGERIA LABOUR CONGRESS HELD ON WEDNESDAY 27TH APRIL 2022 AT THE OLAITAN OYERINDE HALL, PASCAL BAFYAU LABOUR HOUSE, ABUJA
A meeting of the Central Working Committee (CWC) of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) took place on Wednesday, 27th April 2022 at the Oyerinde Olaitan Auditorium, Pascal Bafyau Labour House, NLC National Headquarters, Abuja. The CWC comprises all Presidents and General Secretaries of NLC’s affiliate unions; and members of the National Administrative Council (NAC).
The major issues considered by the Central Working Committee during its meeting included the state of the nation, state of the struggle, the role of the working class in the promotion and defense of democracy, failure by some states to commence the payment of the national minimum wage, pension indebtedness, preparation for the 2022 May Day, the mounting insecurity challenge all over the country, the state of politics in Nigeria especially in the countdown to 2023 general election, the ongoing strike action in all public universities in Nigeria and the global tension as occasioned by Putin’s war against Ukraine.
The CWC Observed:
- The global tension occasioned by Mr. Vladmir Putin’s war of aggression against Ukraine and which is a major threat to the global peace that had been relatively preserved since the end of the Second World War. The CWC noted that the Russian war against Ukraine violates the core principles of the United Nations (UN) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) especially the ILO Philadelphia Declaration that Universal and lasting peace can only be established if it is based on Social Justice.
- On the state of the nation, the CWC noted with dismay the recent energy crises that engulfed the country especially as marked by the importation of adulterated fuel which destroyed the engine of many vehicles, and the subsequent disruption in the supply chain for the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), Aviation Fuel and Diesel. The CWC observed that in the course of the acute fuel scarcity all over the country, petrol was only sold at the regulated price in only major petrol stations in a few states while petrol was discharged at astronomical prices by most filling stations in many states. The CWC noted that the regulator in Nigeria’s downstream petroleum sub-sector failed to to rein in the ugly trend and sanction those who sold petrol above the official price in many states.
The CWC also noted the intermittent collapse of the national electricity grid in the past few weeks and its impact on the nation’s economy especially the manufacturing and services sector. The CWC also noted that the other challenges bedeviling Nigeria’s electricity sector including constant power outages, lack of access by many electricity consumers especially workers to pre-paid meters, and the corporate extortion of citizens through estimated billing have all continued to thrive unabated and unchecked.
- On the crisis of insecurity that has engulfed the country, the CWC noted the recent insurgency and terrorism attacks in Taraba State, Plateau State, the invasion of the runway of the Kaduna Airport and the dastardly attack on an Abuja-Kaduna bound train which led to the death of scores of citizens including the Secretary General of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Musa Lawal Ozigi and the Kwara State Chairman of the TUC, Comrade Akinsola Akinwunmi. The CWC noted the increasing boldness, effrontery and sophistication displayed by the terrorists and the seeming helplessness of our state security outfits to rein in this alarming deterioration and near collapse of security in Nigeria.
The CWC noted the increasing spate of kidnap-for-ransom, invasion of farmlands by the so-called herdsmen, cattle rustling, theft of Nigeria’s crude oil, proliferation of artisanal crude oil refineries and illegal mining with the associated costs to the environment and human lives, baby factories, bank robberies, smuggling and merchandise of narcotics involving even law enforcement agents, cyber crimes and sundry criminal enterprises.
The CWC observed the increasing loss of the lives of innocent Nigerians in the captivity of kidnappers, terrorists and armed bandits who still kill their victims even after huge ransom had been paid by the relatives of the abductees. The CWC noted with great concern the continued custody of some passengers abducted after the recent bombing of the Abuja-Kaduna train.
- The CWC noted with great alarm the deteriorating industrial conditions all over the country with workers and pensioners being owed arrears of salaries and other entitlements. The CWC noted the situation in Abia State where the State Government owes pensioners in the state 38 months of unpaid pension. The CWC also noted the continued refusal of the governments of Taraba State, Cross River State and Zamfara State to commence the payment of the national minimum wage enacted since April 2019.
- The CWC lampooned with strong indignation the current strike action affecting public universities in Nigeria. The CWC observed that the strike action is consequent on the failure of government to honour the Collective Bargaining Agreement it signed with unions in Nigeria’s university system. The CWC also decried the culture of Social Apartheid in our society where the government feels comfortable keeping the children of the poor who cannot afford outrageous school fees charged by private universities while the children of the rich continue with their education.
The CWC noted that the major issues in the ongoing industrial spat between the Federal Government and trade unions in the universities include the following:
i. Re-negotiation of the 2009 Agreement which is expected to be reviewed every three years;
ii. Challenges with the implementation of the Integrated Payment Payroll Information System (IPPIS);
iii. Funding of University and Tertiary Education System in Nigeria;
iv. Non-payment of Arrears of Minimum Wage to University staff; and
v. Earned Allowances for both Academic and Non-Academic Staff of Nigeria’s Universities.
The CWC noted that despite the various interventions of the Congress including writing the Federal Government and relevant MDAs and the current 21-days ultimatum for the Federal Government to find a permanent solution to the intermittent industrial actions in Nigeria’s universities especially through the constitution of a high powered panel, the crises in Nigeria’s universities remain unresolved exposing students from working class and poor homes to an imperiled future while those in government continue to be consumed by the politics of 2023.
- The CWC noted the current monetization of politics by the major political parties in Nigeria which had pegged their nomination forms at very exorbitant costs. The CWC observed that the implication of such despicable practice is the alienation of good people who are not money-bags from contesting for political offices and the surrender of the destiny of the country to money-bags and cartels whose interest in politics is largely transactional.
- The CWC in light of the foregoing reiterated the need for workers and trade unions to embrace politics as a tool of defending democracy and promoting rights. The CWC also noted the need for workers to be actively involved in politics in order to rescue the country from charlatans who adorning the robe of professional politicians have by their flippant and casual engagement with the issues of the state and national development endanger the rest of us and puts the survival of the country at greats risks.
The CWC noted recent efforts by Congress leadership to get workers to be actively engaged in politics especially through the recent Workers Political Conference, efforts to recover the Labour Party, the campaign for workers to use the current continuous voters’ registration to get their voters card, revamping of the NLC Political Commissions in every state, local government, political wards in Nigeria and polling units and the discussions with progressive groups in Nigeria for the emergence of a broad-based coalition to rescue the country from the current precipice.
- The CWC noted the active response by trade unions to the invitation by the ILO to participate in the 2022 International Labour Conference. The CWC observed that participation in such global labour events offers opportunity for capacity building.
- The CWC observed the assiduous preparation by workers and trade unions for the commemoration of the 2022 May Day under the theme “Labour, Politics and the Quest for Good Governance and Development in Nigeria”. The CWC noted the possibility of making adjustments to the date of the May Day given the uncertainty of the exact date for the celebration of Eid-El-Fitr.
Resolutions of the Central Working Committee:
- The CWC calls for the cessation of the Russian war against Ukraine especially in deference to United Nations Charter that prohibits the unprovoked invasion of a sovereign state. The CWC calls for all the parties to the current war in Ukraine to subject themselves to the conflict resolution mechanisms of the United Nations. The CWC warns that the conflict if unchecked now could portend grave implications for the world especially the working people.
- Having noted the total failure of the government’s neoliberal and anti-people policies in the energy sector especially deregulation of the downstream petroleum subsector and the privatization of the electricity sector, the CWC calls for the following:
- The immediate rehabilitation of Nigeria’s refineries and the building of new refineries, in line with the agreement reached with government in September 2020 and as a sustainable solution to the incessant crises of fuel scarcity and high energy costs in the country. The CWC also calls on Nigeria Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority to ensure that imported refined petroleum products comply with industry standards and that petrol is sold at the official pump price in all the states and filling stations in Nigeria. Violators should be prosecuted and made to face the full wrath of the law.
- The CWC also calls for the reversal of the privatization of the electricity sector especially using the current 5-year review window, improvement in public electricity supply, immediate provision of pre-paid meters to electricity consumers, the stoppage of estimated billings and prosecution of DISCOs who criminally extort electricity consumers especially workers of their hard-earned money under the guise of estimated billings.
- The CWC described the current siege of insecurity as totally unacceptable and called on government to rein in this monstrous cancer before it consumes the entire country. The CWC called for the declaration of all-out war against terrorists and their sponsors including those who divert funds meant to fight the security insurgency. While commiserating with Nigerians and workers who have lost loved ones and colleagues to the current siege of insecurity in the country, the CWC calls on government to focus on the immediate release from captivity of all abducted citizens including all the kidnapped Chibok girls, Leah Sharibu, students from Niger, Kebbi and Kaduna states, Abuja-Kaduna train abductees, the governorship candidate of Labour Party in Anambra State abducted since September 2021 and other Nigerians being held hostage in different kidnappers den. The CWC also called on government to nip in the bud current intelligence on the threat by terrorists to resort to mass bombings.
- The CWC calls on workers to keep their ears to the ground on the political bearing of Nigeria’s working class especially as the Congress consummates its political engagement with the Labour Party and progressive groups across the country for the rescue of Nigeria from the hands of political opportunists and undertakers. The CWC reiterated the readiness of Nigerian workers to use their Permanent Voter Cards to vote only candidates and political parties that subscribe to Nigerian Workers Charter of Demands.
- The CWC calls on the political class to exercise restraint and decorum in the build-up to the 2023 general election. The CWC noted the need to preserve the core values of participatory democracy by ensuring that the not-too-rich, women and youths are not excluded from the democratic process through outrageous fees pegged on nomination forms. The CWC calls on major political parties who are selling forms for political offices to the highest bidder to rescind such decisions immediately. The CWC calls on INEC to increase its capacity to monitor and ensure that campaign spending by political parties conform to the law. The CWC also backs the call by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency that political aspirants should be subjected to drug tests. We believe that this call is in response to the drug abuse epidermic in Nigeria and the fear that the inability of many politicians to perform creditably could be related to drug abuse.
- The CWC calls on the governments of Taraba, Cross River and Zamfara State to immediately commence payment of the arrears of national minimum wage owed their workers. The CWC also calls on the Abia State Government to immediately clear the backlog of pension arrears owed retirees in the state. The CWC calls on all employers of labour to respect the sanctity of work by ensuring prompt payment of workers’ salaries and entitlements.
- On the ongoing strike action by unions in Nigerian universities, the CWC resolved as follows:
i. All affiliates of the NLC are to issue public statements condemning the intermittent strike actions in Nigeria’s universities particularly the current one which has gone on for about two months;
ii. Within the span of the subsisting 21-days ultimatum given by Congress, the NLC will hold national protests against the current strike action affecting students of Nigeria’s public universities and occasioned by government’s failure to honour agreement reached with trade unions in our universities. The protest is to draw the attention of government to the inherent catastrophe in the emerging culture of Social Apartheid in our society especially as marked by prolonged lockout of students from working class and poor homes from our public universities while the children of the rich continue their academic pursuits uninterrupted; and
iii. If at the end of the national protest and the 21-days ultimatum, the Federal Government still fails to resolve the industrial crises in Nigeria’s universities, the Congress would be left with no other option than to embark on a 3-days nationwide warning strike action in solidarity with our affiliates in the universities and with Nigerian students whose future and wellbeing are being robbed.
- The CWC felicitates with workers on the commemoration of the 2022 International Workers Day and promise to communicate to workers if there are any changes to the date of the 2022 May Day.
Comrade Ayuba Wabba, mni Comrade Emmanuel Ugboaja, mni
President General Secretary