NLC Criticizes Tinubu’s Speech, Demands Concrete Actions To Address Hardship

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The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) expressed its disappointment with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s recent speech, stating that it appears out of touch with the harsh realities most Nigerians are facing.

NLC Criticizes Tinubu's Speech, Demands Concrete Actions To Address Hardship
NLC president, Joe Ajaero,

NLC President, Joe Ajaero, critiqued the speech, in a statement on Monday, stating that it failed to address the hardship and suffering prevalent in the country.

President Tinubu, in his first speech since assuming office, acknowledged the hardships faced by Nigerians due to various policy decisions made by his administration. He assured the public that the government is committed to reducing burdens and making life easier for citizens. Additionally, he revealed ongoing negotiations with labour unions to review workers’ minimum wage.

However, the NLC argued that President Tinubu’s speech fell short of the expectations of many Nigerians. Mr Ajaero stated that the speech did not address crucial issues, such as the resuscitation of public refineries that have been inactive for years, a major concern in the subsidy debate.

“Our review of today’s broadcast by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu leaves us with the impression that the promises and assurances made by President Tinubu are not the silver bullet that Nigerians expected.

“The speech indeed appears to be out of touch with reality and anomalous with the hardship and suffering that most Nigerians are going through now,” Mr Ajaero said.

“Unfortunately, the entire speech by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu was completely silent on the issue of the repair of our national refineries,” he said.

“Consistent with our perception of the misalignment of Mr President’s promises and offerings to the reality faced by millions of workers and ordinary Nigerians was the failure of President Tinubu to unmask those behind the looting of Nigeria’s commonwealth under the guise of petrol subsidy.”

The NLC president said it is unacceptable for the President and Commander-in-Chief to lament like ordinary Nigerians about a group that he routinely referred to in his speech as the “elites of the elites” who have stolen so much from Nigeria that they have become so powerful as to constitute a threat to democratic governance.

“What Nigerians expected from Mr President is a firm commitment to bring these economic saboteurs to justice and recover what they have stolen. Third, Mr President’s statement on working with Organised Labour to review the national minimum wage is out of sync with what has played out since President Tinubu removed the so-called petrol subsidy.

“In all the meetings scheduled by the government, Organised Labour has been forced to negotiate with empty chairs on the Federal Government’s side as the Federal Government has not matched its public promises with a firm commitment to negotiate in good faith with labour. As a matter of fact, the sub-committee on wage award has not been inaugurated and has not met,” Mr Ajaero said.

Furthermore, he said the Organised Labour is disturbed that while President Tinubu, in his speech, lavishly praised the private sector for quickly dispensing wage awards to their employees, the federal government has failed to do the same for public workers in its employment.

“This is a clear case of failing woefully to live up to the standards it has set for others to meet. It is open knowledge that the review of the national minimum wage is a matter of law, which is expected to happen in 2024.

“How would Nigerian workers cope with the current reality of hyperinflation and suffering unleashed by the hasty removal of the so-called petrol subsidy till 2024, when the national minimum wage would be reviewed? This is incredible,” he asked.

According to him, the claims of interventions by the federal government through palliatives, loans and conditional grants to poor Nigerians, significant manufacturing concerns and small businesses and provision of CNG buses remain what they are -promises.

“Nigerians are used to such promises which have never produced any verifiable and meaningful changes in the lives of citizens,” he said.

For many Nigerians, Mr Ajaero said it is incomprehensible that the principal actors in the current government, including the president himself, were clear in 2012 on the need to tackle the fundamental issues that brought about petrol subsidies.

“Those issues included the failure of previous governments to repair our national refineries and bring those behind the monumental subsidy sleaze to book.

“Today, these issues were swept under the carpet in President Tinubu’s speech. Nigerians wonder “What has changed?”

“Finally, we wish to assure Nigerians that the Nigeria Labour Congress remains committed to matching discussions with the government with the current realities of sufferings that Nigerians are going through.

“Until we see a real commitment by the government to do the needful to improve a lot of Nigerians and ameliorate the sufferings workers and ordinary Nigerians are going through, we remain committed to continuing with our struggle,” he said.

It is worth noting that the Nigeria Labour Congress had previously issued a seven-day nationwide strike notice set to begin on August 2, 2023, in protest of the federal government’s removal of fuel subsidies.

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