THE Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Tuesday expressly rejected the proposal by the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration to pay 8,000 naira as palliative to some 12 million households in the country, describing it as not only an insult to the collective intelligence of Nigerians but also a mockery of NLC’s patience and abiding faith in social dialogue.
In a press release signed by Comrade Joe Ajaero, dated Tuesday, July 18, 2023 and entitled: “The Proposed Palliative Cash Transfers Robs the Poor and Pays the Rich: We Reject It”, the NLC also castigated the Tinubu government for its proposal to pay national legislators 70 billion naira and the judiciary 36 billion naira, and described it as “the most insensitive, reckless and brazen diversion of our collective patrimony…”.
According to Ajaero, the proposed huge amounts to national legislators and judiciary “amount to hush money and outright bribery of the other arms of government to acquiesce the aberration.”
“We have restrained ourselves from making further comments publicly on the vexatious issues around the recent but unfortunate unilateral hike in the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) in the guise of the so-called subsidy withdrawal which has unleashed predictably as we had earlier warned unimaginable and unprecedented hardship, sorrow, anguish and suffering upon Nigerian workers and masses.
“Our resolve is anchored on our strong and abiding faith in the outcomes of the processes of social dialogue and its mechanisms especially within a democratic setting which fortunately all the major stakeholders in the nation’s socioeconomic framework pleads [sic] to at this particular point in time though some have demonstrably shown that it does not go deeper than the rhetoric.
“However, the government of Nigeria seems to have been misled into believing that resorting to impunity and imperiousness in governance in a democracy is a beneficial option as it pursues its stated and unstated objectives. It is this belief that we are sure has continued shaping the actions of this government since its inauguration on the 29th day of May, 2023 to continue inflicting mindless and heartless pains on the populace one after the other without the decency of embracing the tenets of democracy which requires wide and deep stakeholder consultation on weighty matters of state”, Comrade Ajaero stated in the release.
NLC accused the Tinubu-led administration of foisting so harsh a hardship on Nigerians within just two months of being in office.
“It is unconscionable that a government that has foisted so much hardship on the people within nearly two months of coming into office will make a proposal that clearly rewards the rich in public office to the detriment of the poor.
“What this means all this while is that the government is seeking ways of robbing the very poor Nigerians so that the rich can become richer.
“There is no other way to explain the proposal to pay a misery sum of N8,000 Naira to each of the mysterious poorest 12 million Households for six months which amounts to N48,000 and pay just 469 National Legislators N70b or about N149m each while the Judiciary that has about 72 Appeal Court Judges, 33 National Industrial Court Judges, 75 Federal High Court Judges and 21 Supreme Court Judges and a total of about 201 Judges receives a total of N35b or N174m each.
“If these other two arms are projected to receive this, what members of the Executive Council will receive is better left to the imagination of Nigerians perhaps, the balance [of] N150b will go to them.
“These proposals are not just unacceptable to Nigerian workers but are also dictatorial thus undemocratic. It is not a product of social dialogue which would have produced collectively negotiated outcomes by critical national stakeholders.
“We had thought that this government given the circumstances of its emergence ought to have been a stickler to all the preachments of the fine tenets of democracy which would have shored up its image and begins to build legitimacy for itself unfortunately, it seems to be in a hurry to abandon the remaining pretensions to democracy that the previous administration left behind,” Comrade Ajaero contended in the press release.
While expressing NLC’s lack of confidence on the methodology of how the government generated its figure of 12 million poorest households, Ajaero accused the federal government of undermining the same process that it set up to offer solutions to the emergent challenges.
The NLC therefore threatened to withdraws its membership of the steering committees on the palliatives as, according to Ajaero, they do not “want to continue to be part of the usual charade of Committees with outcomes that are never implemented” or waste time in committees that have been programmed to fail or provide a cover for government to get away with the hardship it has imposed on the people or legitimise impunity.
“We reiterate that we do not have confidence in how the data for the never changing 12m poorest households was generated neither do we have confidence in the mechanisms being pursued for the distribution of the cash transfers.
“The history of such transfers especially the school feeding programmes even while the children were at home due to Covid-19 pandemic and the Trader Moni saga fills Nigerians with trepidation reminding us of the continued heist of our collective resources by those in Public office.
“We have continually demanded that this register be made public but, it seems to have become an instrument of the occult shrouded in mystery and wielded by the grandmasters whenever opportunities like this presents [sic] themselves.
“It is important to inform Nigerians that despite having shown our readiness to commence work in the Committees, the federal government which convenes the meetings is yet to inaugurate the National Steering Committee thus stalling the Work of the Proposed Committees.
“If the government had wanted an expedited action which Nigerians want more, the best approach would have been to quickly inaugurate the Committees and allow them do their work but as we write, nothing has been done except the continuation of the borrowing spree and subsequent allocation to themselves.
“NLC would not want to continue to be part of the usual charade of Committees with outcomes that are never implemented. We would not want to waste the time of Nigerians especially workers on Committees that have already been programmed to fail thus ignored. We do not want to provide a cover for government to get away with the hardship it has imposed on the people. We do not want to legitimize impunity.
“As a result, if the government does not want to stop these fortuitous actions that it is pursuing in the name of palliatives, we will be forced to constructively review our engagement with the government on this vexatious issue and take matters in our own hands.”