Comrade Abdullahi Abubakar is the Nasarawa State president of Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE). He speaks with Akwash JOHN on the need for Buhari to give assent to the minimum wage bill, LG autonomy and percentage salaries for LG workers excerpt.
We are joining the labour centres in Nigeria to prevail on President Muhammadu Buhari to as a matter of urgency assent to the minimum wage bill passed by the two chambers of the National Assembly so that Nigerian workers can start enjoying the new wage. This is because the current minimum wage is nothing to write home about considering the realities on ground. For instance, can you imagine that your take home pay is small and it is not as if you have a Special market you go since your pay is small, but rather you have to go to the same market with those taking bogus salaries . So we are urging the president to do justice to the bill presented to him and it is only when he does this that we can say the president has the people at heart. Remember recently the president say that it is wicked for governors to go to sleep when their workers have not been paid salaries. Now we want President Buhari to show that he is indeed workers friendly by signing the N30.000 into law.
The issue of local Government autonomy is a very serious issue that does not affect only the local government workers but everybody, but others see the LG autonomy as a NULGE project, is not like that. Today, the inability for local government to have autonomy is one of the challenges that are affecting development and progress in the grass root of the country. NULGE decided to take it up because it has hindered a lot of development in Nigeria rural areas that has highest concentration of people. Also because we are the closest to the rural people and unless local government got her autonomy, the third tier of government will not function the way it should be. This is also because the third tier of government has been hijack by the second tier of government and that has depriving them of so many activities and some developmental moves. Today when you are not financially buoyant, it will be difficult to embark on projects that would be meaningful to the grass root people. NULGE has taking this step because we want to touch the majority of the grass root and at the moment we are unable to reach that goal because these people who have hijack the system are making it difficult for the system to work but we have adopt a strategies to fighting this autonomy to finish because with the returned of President Muhammadu Buhari for another four years in office, we are sure of getting LG autonomy before the completion of his four years. For instance, most people that worked in Abuja and other major cities all belong to the local government. Most of them if local government is functioning well; they can’t leave their respective LGs. We are also saying that since the first tier of government didn’t usurp the powers of second tier, we don’t know why state governments won’t free local governments. We are aware that the state governments are hiding under the Local government state joint account to perpetrate this evil against the local government but leaving out the aspect of that same constitution that says ten percent of the Internally Generated Revenue which the law says should be added to the local governments has not given to them leaving the whole money of local governments being hijack by the state government and that’s why kidnapping and other social vices has become order of the day. For instance the so called executive chairmen of Local Government, they don’t have financial power, they take instruction from the state governors. So, if there is any security challenge, there is nothing they can do because they have to write and wait for directive from the state government before they reply, because of bureaucracy the damage must have been done. So we need local government autonomy and I am calling on the general public to join hands with NULGE to ensure local government gets her autonomy for the country to forge ahead.
Promotion arrears in the state
The issue of stagnation in promotion, we have done our best by ensure that we lobby because the situation today require that we lobby to ensure that the promotion are release are other arrears paid in due cause. That also brings to question the issue of freedom of local government. Most of the challenges the third tier of government is facing would be resolve automatic if the if local government got her financial and administrative autonomy.
For two years the local government workers in Nasarawa State have been collecting percentage salary, but we are aware that the government of the day is Labour friendly. This is because there was a global recession and Nigeria was not left out. This also affacted various states in the country have been affected with the recession. So as a result of this, Governor Tanko Almakura didn’t reduce the salaries of local government or any other worker in the state but rather decided to pay in percentage so that once the situation improve the salaries would be paid in full. And as I speak with you, the economic situation has improved and for the past seven months, all workers in Local Government either medical and Health Workers, NUT and others have all been receiving salaries in full.
Shortfall of salaries
At the moment, the shortfall has not being cleared but we are sure the shortfalls would be paid, this is because before now we are being paid percentage but today we are collecting salaries in full, so we are hoping before he hands over to the new administration, he might clear the shortfalls.