President Bola Tinubu has announced the approval of N25,000 provisional allowance for junior federal workers over the next six months.
He said the approval followed negotiations with labour unions and other stakeholders in the business community to increase the federal minimum wage without triggering undue inflation.
“For the next six months, the average low-grade worker shall receive an additional N25,000 per month,” Tinubu announced during his maiden Independence Day address to Nigerians.
The President, who acknowledged the suffering of Nigerians since the scrapping of petrol subsidy at his inauguration on May 29, 2023, said he was not happy watching citizens shouldering burdens that would have been shed a long time ago.
He said the reforms initiated by his administration were necessary to rid the system of the grip of those he called “a select and greedy few.”
Tinubu stated, “I am attuned to the hardships that have come. I have a heart that feels and eyes that see. I wish to explain to you why we must endure this trying moment.
“Reform may be painful, but it is what greatness and the future require. We now carry the costs of reaching a future Nigeria where the abundance and fruits of the nation are fairly shared among all, not hoarded by a select and greedy few; a Nigeria where hunger, poverty and hardship are pushed into the shadows of an ever-fading past.
“There is no joy in seeing the people of this nation shoulder burdens that should have been shed years ago. I wish today’s difficulties did not exist. But we must endure if we are to reach the good side of our future.”
The President reiterated that his administration was doing all that it could to ease the burden.
He outlined the path his administration was taking to relieve the stress on families and households, saying, “We have embarked on several public sector reforms to stabilise the economy, direct fiscal and monetary policies to fight inflation, encourage production, ensure the security of lives and property and lend more support to the poor and the vulnerable.
“Based on our talks with labour, business and other stakeholders, we are introducing a provisional wage increment to enhance the federal minimum wage without causing undue inflation.”
To ensure better grassroots development, Tinubu said his government had set up an infrastructure support fund for states to invest in critical areas, adding, “States have already received funds to provide relief packages against the impact of rising food and other prices.”
To ease the cost of mobility, he explained that his government had “opened a new chapter in public transportation through the deployment of cheaper and safer Compressed Natural Gas buses across the nation. These buses will operate at a fraction of current fuel prices, positively affecting transport fares.”
The President added, “New CNG conversion kits will start coming in very soon as all hands are on the deck to fast-track the usually lengthy procurement process.
“We are also setting up training facilities and workshops across the nation to train and provide new opportunities for transport operators and entrepreneurs.
“This is a ground-breaking moment where, as a nation, we embrace more efficient means to power our economy. In making this change, we also make history.”
The President said in October, his government would extend its social safety net through the expansion of cash transfer programmes to an additional 15 million vulnerable households.
Tinubu thanked members of civil society organisations and labour unions for their dedication to Nigerian democracy saying, “We may not always agree, but I value your advice and recommendations. You are my brothers and sisters, and you have my due respect.”
He also assured citizens that his administration was fighting corruption, particularly through the ongoing probe into the activities of the former Central Bank of Nigeria leadership, reports of which would be ready soon.
The President stated, “I pledged a thorough house cleaning of the den of malfeasance the CBN had become. That housecleaning is well underway.
“A new leadership for the central bank has been constituted. Also, my special investigator will soon present his findings on past lapses and how to prevent similar occurrences.
“Henceforth, monetary policy shall be for the benefit of all and not the exclusive preserve of the powerful and wealthy.”
Tinubu also reaffirmed his commitment to their security, saying his administration would always accord the highest priority to the safety of the people.
He commended the service chiefs and stated that enhanced inter-service collaboration and intelligence sharing had been enhanced.
The President also saluted the security forces for “keeping us safe and securing our territorial integrity.”
He eulogised those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, praised their families and promised to equip the forces with the ways and means needed to perform their urgent task on behalf of the people.
Tinubu also promised to continue to appoint more people to his government in line with the provisions of the constitution and with fairness toward all.
“Women, youths and the physically challenged shall continue to be given due regard in these appointments,” he pledged.
The President commended the National Assembly for aiding the quick take-off of the administration through the performance of its constitutional duties of confirmation and oversight, and also the judiciary for serving as “a pillar of democracy and fairness.”
NLC knocks AGF
The Nigeria Labour Congress said on Saturday that its planned nationwide strike was not in violation of any court order as claimed by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, SAN.
The National President, NLC, Joe Ajaero, said in a statement that the AGF had displayed acts of partisanship, which should not be found in a holder of the office, who was expected to uphold the freedom and rights of the citizens to protest.
Ajaero stated, “We find it curious that Mr Lateef Fagbemi, a thorough-bred professional, could indulge in this kind of talk.
“We are shocked that Mr Lateef Fagbemi is referring to a restraining order issued on June 5 through a motion ex parte, which the Ministry of Justice in a formal statement had said lapsed due to non-diligent prosecution. Which order could Fagbemi be talking about here? We demand to know.
“We similarly, find it necessary to remind Fagbemi that equating a restraining order to a perpetual injunction will do no small damage to our legal/judicial system. For once, we find it appropriate to reveal to the world that the court refused to sit during the pendency of the order to take our response to that order.
“Even though we would not want to be drawn into details here, representatives of the Federal Government on the National Steering Committee are on record to have said in the Villa that their mandate did not extend to subsequent increments (of petrol pump price) after the one of N187-N537 thus differentiating between the issues for which the order (that has since run out of time) was issued.”
Meanwhile, the Sokoto State chapter of the NLC on Saturday expressed its readiness to join the nationwide strike as declared by the national headquarters of the union.
The State Secretary of the union, Hamisu Yanduna, who spoke with one of our correspondents, said workers in the state had been mobilised for the strike action.
Unions confirm participation
The National Union of Electricity Employers has urged its members to down tools from Tuesday in solidarity with the indefinite strike called by the NLC and TUC.
This was communicated in a letter titled, ‘Mobilisation for indefinite nationwide strike’ signed by the General Secretary of the union, Dominic Igwebike.
It read in part, “Further to the NLC’s National Executive Council meeting held on September 26 and the joint press conference of the NLC and TUC over the untold hardship being faced by Nigerians as a consequence of the high price of petrol resulting from the removal of subsidy as well as other anti-labour policies by the government, the NLC and TUC have declared an indefinite and total shutdown of the nation beginning from Tuesday.
“Hence, we are to totally withdraw our services and participate in street protests and rallies until the government responds to our demands.”
Also, the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers also backed the strike.
In a letter titled, ‘Mobilisation for a nationwide industrial action’, the union said, “NUPENG as a responsible and responsive affiliate union of the NLC will fully comply with the resolution of the joint NEC meeting and we hereby direct the leaders in the four zonal councils of our union to mobilise all our members in the formal and informal sectors to shut down services effective October 3.”
The National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions Employees, in a letter by its General Secretary, Mohammed Sheikh, pledged the union’s solidarity with the NLC and TUC.
“All managements of banks, insurance and other financial institutions are strongly advised not to inhibit, in any way or form, their workers from actively participating and complying with the directives of the two congresses. Let the people breathe.”
The National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives also backed the strike action.
“I am directed to convey the decision of the NLC NEC meeting to commence nationwide indefinite industrial action with effect from Tuesday,” the National President of the union, Nnachi Ekuma, said in a letter directed to members.
Also, the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria in a letter by its General Secretary, Agugbue Ugochi, said its members would down tools come Tuesday.
The Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees, in a letter on Friday, asked its members to join the strike.
The Senior Staff Association of Universities, in a letter by its Senior Assistant General Secretary, Kingsley Okayi, said, “All branch chairpersons are requested to commence full mobilisation of our members to actively participate in the strike that is being organised by the NLC.”
Similarly, the Nigeria Union of Public Service Reportorial, Secretarial, Data Processing and Allied Workers also announced that its members would join the strike.
On its part, the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Polytechnics, in a letter by its National Secretary, Emmanuel Enyiegor, directed its leaders to “liaise with their state councils of the NLC and mobilise our members for total compliance with the directive.”
The Secretary of the Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union, Dr Ahmed Lawan, urged members to join the strike and participate actively in all rallies and protests in their respective states.
The National Union of Civil Engineering Construction, Furniture and Wood Workers also urged its members to participate in the industrial action.
The Secretary-General of the Nigeria Union of Railway Workers, Francis Igbokwe, urged the leaders to use their good offices to “mobilise the Nigeria Police and Nigeria Civil Defence Corps commands at the corporation to keep and protect all the fixed and movable assets of the corporation while the strike action lasts.”
The Radio, Television, Theatre and Arts Workers Union of Nigeria directed its state council chairmen and secretaries to liaise with the NLC in their respective states for effective coordination.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Union of Allied Health Professionals, in a letter to its members asked them to join the nationwide strike to “ameliorate the economic hardship imposed on the workers and masses by the removal of fuel subsidy.”
Olubadan advises labour, FG
The Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Lekan Balogun, on Saturday, appealed to the NLC and the TUC to tread with caution over the proposed nationwide strike, and also urged the Federal Government not to overstretch Nigerians.
The Olubadan, in a statement by his Personal Assistant on Media, Oladele Ogunsola, to commemorate the 63rd Independence Day anniversary of the country, urged labour leaders to shelve the planned strike and explore ways of resolving the vexatious issues.
He said, “I want to plead with the workers’ unions and urge the government not to overstretch the people. There must be tangible measures to reassure the people that the renewed hope agenda is truly for real.
“I plead for dialogue between the labour and the government. There should be openness and understanding, bearing in mind that where two elephants fight, it is the grass there that suffers. Let’s be mindful of the effect of total paralysis on our battered economy. Consider the sick and consider the students from the nursery school to the university among several others that will bear the brunt. The loss is simply incalculable.
“I want our labour leaders to cast their minds back to the last prolonged strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities and the effect on our students. How do we compensate for the loss of a whole academic session in the lives of the affected students? Such a loss is eternal because it is not possible to wound back the hand of the clock. That’s just an example.”
Senate leader begs
The Senate Leader, Opeyemi Bamidele, appealed to the NLC and TUC to suspend the plan to embark on an indefinite strike in the national interest.
Bamidele noted that the Federal Government and all its relevant agencies were working underground to come up with viable options in response to the demands of the organised labour.
In a statement on Saturday, Bamidele congratulated Nigerians across all socio-economic and political strata on the 63rd independence anniversary of the nation.
He observed that in spite of her internal challenges, Nigeria remained “a strong, united and indivisible nation that still provides strong leadership not only for West Africa, but also entire Africa.”
He appealed to the leadership of the NLC and TUC not to embark on an indefinite strike in the national interest as such an action “will further inflict more pain on Nigerians at the time the new government is working hard to address their concerns and grievances.”
Edo restores five working days
The Edo State Government has reversed its directive that reduced working days from five to three days for civil and public servants following the removal of fuel subsidy by the Federal Government.
The government had in June empathised with residents in the wake of the rise in the prices of goods and services as well as the overall cost of living occasioned by the fuel subsidy removal by initiating the three-day-a-week work policy and other measures.
In a circular dated September 29, 2023, and signed by the Permanent Secretary, General Services, for the Head of Service, Mrs Priscilla Aziegbemhin, the government said the decision to revert to five work days was in view of the fact that it had put in place measures to alleviate the transport plight of Edo residents.
The circular read in part, “I am directed to refer to the above subject and to convey the decision of the state government to bring to an end the implementation of the three-day weekly work schedule for civil/public servants across ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).
“This decision is in view of the fact that the state government has put in place measures to alleviate the transport plight of Edo residents caused by the hike in the price of petroleum products. It is expected that every civil/public servant should take advantage of these measures.
“In view of the foregoing, all civil/public servants are by this circular directed to resume work every workday of the week with effect from Tuesday, October 3, 2023.”
Source: The PUNCH