THE Kwara State governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, on Monday, met with top labour leaders in the state, appealing to them to understand that the recent removal of fuel subsidy was done in good faith to curb further damage to the economy.
That came as the governor approved an immediate reduction of workdays for the state’s workforce to lessen the subsidy removal’s impact on their earnings.
Civil servants will now work for three days in Kwara State against the current five days. Civil service authorities are expected to release further guidance on the measure, including how it affects health workers and teachers.
“Removal of subsidy is definitely a painful decision that the government had to take in the larger interest of the country. It is the cheapest and most sustainable option available to curb criminal bleeding of the resources at the expense of the larger public,” according to an excerpt of the governor’s address to Kwara’s labour leaders.
“Subsidy regime means Nigeria is running a deficit budget that continues to hurt economic growth and make people poorer. The country was having to borrow to feed a tiny few, while important things like infrastructural development, industrial growth, and job creation received lesser resources.
“Now that subsidy has been removed as there is no provision for it in the budget anymore, the government is open to veritable ideas from the labour unions on how to redirect the savings for maximum public benefit, including pay rise.
“Mr President and all of us (governors) really acknowledge the short-term pains that come with the development, but we are committed to making sure that the interest of the workers and the Nigerian people is protected.”
The meeting was attended by the state chairperson of the NLC, Comrade Muritala Saheed Olayinka; his TUC counterpart, Comrade Joseph Tunde Meshach; state chairperson of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr Ola Ahmad; chairperson, National Association of Government General Medical and Dental Practitioners Association (NAGGMDP), Yusuf Amuda; vice chairperson, National Union of Printing, Publishing and Paper Products Workers (NUPPPPROW), Medinat Jimoh; as well as representatives of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE); among others.
The Head of Service, Susan Modupe Oluwole, led them to the meeting.
Comrade Olayinka of NLC said the call for such a meeting shows good leadership by the governor as he agreed with Governor AbdulRazaq that dialogue is better than strike action at this time, urging the governor to use his good offices as NGF chairperson to intervene in the national issue for amicable resolutions.
“As said by you, we know there is a little misunderstanding between the leadership of NLC and the representatives of the federal government. We have discussed it holistically within ourselves at the state level that when a negotiation is ongoing, it doesn’t call for strike demonstration,” he said.
Comrade Meshach of the TUC said engagement and dialogue are the best options to resolve the issues and appealed to the government to be sincere as they discussed a new minimum wage for workers and palliatives for the poor masses.