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NLC Asks Buhari To Probe State Governors On How They Spent Paris Club Refund

AYUBA-WABBA

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to probe all the state governors on how they spent the Paris Club refund which was disbursed to the in two tranches so far.

The labour union insisted that until the proper audit is carried out to give details of how the previous disbursements and until a concrete commitment is made by the governors to use the money to settle outstanding salaries, allowances and pension of workers and retirees in the country, the President should not release the third and final tranche

In a communiqué signed by the NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba and General Secretary, Dr, Peter Oyo-Eson, at the end of its Central Working Committee (CWC) meeting, the Congress insisted that the federal government should compel state governors to properly account for the bail out funds they received from the federal government as well as the two tranches of the Paris Club refund which was supposed to be used for the payment of salaries and pensions, but diverted to other uses.

The Congress regretted that government has not lived up the expectation of Nigerians and are in the habit of reneging on signed agreements with unions, pointing out that the ongoing strike by members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities was avoidable.

The congress said: “many of the discussions around restructuring have not paid adequate attention to the question of wealth distribution in thr Nigerian society. It resolved to set up a committee to harmonies the various views expressed at the meeting with a view to articulating a congress position on the issue for subsequent presentation to the organized labour.

“It reviewed the continuous nonpayment of months of outstanding salaries of workers in some states of the federation as well as various arears of pension which has also run into several months which is the actual situation despite President Muhammadu Buhari’s passion to address this matter since he assumed office by giving bail out to governors to clear this shameful state of affairs with the nation’s workforce.

“The Federal government has further released tranches of Paris Club refund to states government with specific appeals to the and commitment by the governors forum to use the refund for the settlement of arrears of salaries and pension owed by various states to their civil servants and retrirees.

“Despite the President”s laudable intervention notwithstanding, states like Kogi, Benue and Bayelsa are still owing workers 5-10 months in salaries  arrear and pension. There are other states like Kaduna and Zamfara that have refused to disclose any information about how it had utilized the bailout and Paris Club refund despite demand from unions and the general public.

“Several efforts by unions and workers in the affected states to know what these state governors are using these funds for have yielded little or no results.”

It directed the congress leadership to write the President to ensure that the governors are made to transparently account for the bailout given by the federal government as well as the two tranches of the Paris Clud refund.

It resolved to call on the President to direct the Minister of Finance not to release the third anfd final tranche of the Paris club refund til the governors give a concrete commitment to use it to pay the backlog of salaries and pension through a transparent process.

“It agreed to lead an engagement rally to states, name and shame states in default as well as applaud and support those that are up to date in payment.

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“It directs all workers, pensioner and their families to take advantage of the ongoing voter registration exercise to obtain their permanent voters card.

“The CWC also reviewed the continued poor service delivery in the power sector and observed that since the current administration came to power in May 2015, it had given N740 Billion to the power sector as intervention fund without much to show for it. CWC therefore cannot comprehend the rationale behind the administration’s preparedness to give a further N39 billion bailout to DISCos for metering purpose.

“There is no guarantee that the DISCOs will not go back cap in hand to government again on the issue of provision of meters as the minister of power recently disclosed that DISCOs need about N220 billion to provide meters to Nigerians.

“Given that one of the conditions precedents for the privatization by the last administration was that the new owners would provide meters for customers within 24 months or so, CWC felt that the defaulting DISCOs ought to face sanctions and not additional bailout.

“CWC therefore call for an urgent and proper auditing of the money spent in the effort to revive the power sector since 1999 which rather than transform into increased light provision has produced tens, if not hundreds of billionaires as a result of the diversion of the funds. Nothing illustrates this better than a recent report which showed that in the almost 18 years of the current democratic dispensation, over 11 trillion has been expended from the public treasury to lift the power sector to no avail.

“The meeting called on the federal government to inaugurate the minimum wage committee immediately as the committee ought to have been put in place several months ago.

“Against the background of the impoverishment of Nigerian workers generally, government and the tripartite partners need to fast track and conclude the work of the committee in time to address the deteriorated purchasing power of the Nigerian worker.

“It resolved that the ongoing ASUU strike was preventable and regretted that again the federal government has precipitated the strike action as it failed to implement the 2009 agreement it reached with the union.

“It called on the government to urgently resolve the issues in dispute to avoid escalating the strike action as other unions in the educational sector who are also affected by the 2009 agreement in the sector are mobilizing to enter the fray. The meeting also called on the government to note that collective agreements are sacrosanct and must be respected by the parties to the agreement.

The CWC reviewed the allegations and counter allegations of impropriety coming out of the National Health Insurance Scheme. The meeting recalled that the immediate cause of the crisis arose from the public hearing organized by the House of Representatives committee on health on the activities of the NHIS.

“The CWC is of the opinion that the Minister of Health who constituted the intra ministerial committee to probe the suspended Executive Secretary and has himself been accused of peddling influence and sundry abuses in the operations of the scheme be investigated.

“Natural justice demand the a neutral and transparent process should be put in place by the government to thoroughly investigate these allegations and counter allegations.” [myad]