News Agency of Nigeria

The President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, has decried the increased state of insecurity in the country.

Mr Wabba, who disclosed this in a message to state delegates conference of the congress on Thursday, said the current security system has failed the country.

“There is hardly any day that passes without one incident of armed robbery, kidnap for ransom, militancy or terrorism attack making headlines.

“We call on government at both federal and state levels to urgently rejig our security architecture, structure, and management.

“Clearly, the current approach has failed. We also call for a robust and sustainable response to renewed security challenges in our country.

“Even if that means an increase in the budget for internal security so long it is judiciously and transparently used.

“The political arena offers one of the most effective spaces for tackling almost all the challenges that we have already highlighted to bring about socioeconomic transformation.

“Unfortunately, the conduct of the last general election left a lot of sour taste in the mouth,‘’ he said.

The NLC president, however, called on workers to be conscious of the fact that minimum wage was not a gift to them from government.

He called on employers of labour to commence the implementation of the new minimum wage immediately.

“The upward review of the national minimum wage is not so much a gift as it is the right of workers. This right was delayed for too long.

“As Mr President ordered during the signing into law of the National Minimum Wage (2019) Amendment Bill, we call on all employers of labour to commence payment immediately.

“I urge the incoming leadership of our state councils to make the immediate payment of the new national minimum wage of N30,000 and review of monthly pension by state governments your top priority.

“We have crossed the bridge of the debate whether state governments can pay the new national minimum wage or not.

“The feedback we got from the nationwide rallies for a new national minimum wage which took place in January 2019 indicated that most state governments are willing to pay the new national minimum wage once Mr President grants his assent.

“The truth is that if state governments cut down on the high cost of governance and corruption, they will be more than able to pay the new national minimum wage of N30,000,‘’ he said.

Mr Wabba urged the leadership of various state councils to emerge from the conferences to push for the implementation of the new wage by the state government.

He said that the NLC completely rejected proposals to increase the Value Added Tax (VAT) as a means of funding the 2019 budget.

Mr Wabba warned that any increase in VAT or Pay As You Earn (PAYE) would rob workers of the minimal relief from the increase in the new wage.

The labour leader urged the government to consider other progressive ways of financing the budget.

He added that government should adopt progressive taxation in a manner that captures more people in the tax net and also ensures that luxury items were properly taxed.

“High inflation and poor salaries have combined to erode the purchasing power of workers. The design of our economy is essentially rent-seeking and exclusivist thus undermining productivity and job creation.

“Our industrial base is almost totally decimated due to the erratic power supply, shabby physical infrastructure, and poor policy choices. This leaves us with an economy stuck in the backwaters of subsistence production.

“Succinctly put, we have managed to develop an economy that specialises in exporting jobs and prosperity and importing joblessness, poverty and misery,’’ he said.

Mr Wabba, however, condemned the continuous privatisation of major assets in the country.

He said the commanding heights of the economy were given to private interests with little or no commitment to nation-building and social progress.

He also counselled the government against contemplating any increase in the price of refined petroleum products especially the Premium Motor Spirit.

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