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May Day: Workers task govt on their challenges as Nasarawa, Sokoto promise houses


LAGOS – Some workers on Thursday appealed to the three tiers of government and labour to tackle the various challenges affecting workers nationwide.
The workers made the appeal during the commemoration of the 2014 Workers’ Day in Lagos in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
They said they wanted government and labour unions to address what they called poor workers’ remuneration and welfare, increased unemployment rate and insecurity in the country.
They also said that the poor salaries earned by Nigerian workers had made some of them agents of corruption.
Mr Ibrahim Adepoju, a civil servant, said “poor remuneration is responsible for some workers aiding and abetting corruption in the country.
“Nigerian workers are suffering. They rank among the least paid in the whole world, with some earning less than 100 U.S. dollars a month.
“The prices of goods and services, transportation and house rent are not helping matters either, as they have continued to go up while workers’ salaries remained stagnant.
“This has brought untold hardships to many homes in the country.’’
He urged both the federal and state governments to urgently review workers’ salaries because of the rising inflation rate in the economy.
Mr Adekunle Oguntuase, a public servant, said the poor salaries being paid to civil servants would always result in low productivity.
He said “this is because the workers lacked the financial capability and motivation to function efficiently.
“The minimum wage is insignificant to improve the lives of workers in these harsh economic times. Most families can hardly afford three square meals.
“Government should enhance workers’ salaries so that they would be able to afford the soaring prices of goods in the market, the high cost of transportation and accommodation.
“The NLC must live up to its expectations by ensuring that it continues to protect the interests of Nigerian workers.’’
A farmer, Mr Joseph Akinwande, urged government at the three tiers to inject more funds into agriculture and reduce the unemployment level in the country.
Akinwande said “let us encourage our youths to embrace agriculture to make them independent and stop their reliance on government for jobs.’’
A banker, Mr Yemi Adebola, called for an end to the insecurity in the country, adding a secured nation would attract greater investment and increased workforce across the country.
“With the level of kidnapping, armed robbery and the violence perpetrated by Boko Haram, many workers now operate with fear; they, therefore, cannot put in their best.
However, in Nasarawa, Gov. Umaru Al-Makura, on Thursday, inaugurated 300 housing units for civil servants in the state as part of the May Day celebration.
Al-Makura said that the houses were intended to reduce the plight of workers over high cost of accommodation in the state.
He said the 300 houses were the ones already completed out of the 500 units being constructed for workers.
Al-Makura added that N237 million was released for the provision of infrastructure, which included roads, water and electricity in the estate.
He stated that efforts were ongoing toward the provision of more housing units for the citizens in major cities across the state.
Earlier, the Head of Civil Service in the state, Mr Dominic Bako, said the three-bedroom units would be allocated at the coast of N4 million each, while the two-bedrooms would cost N2.9 million each.
Bako said beneficiaries were expected to deposit 10 per cent of the total cost before allocation.
In Sokoto, Gov. Aliyu Wamakko said the state government had concluded plans to construct additional 500 houses for sale to workers.
Wamakko made the disclosure on Thursday in Sokoto during the 2014 Workers’ Day.
According to him, the houses will be built at Arkilla-Sokoto and the contract will soon be awarded.
Wamakko said the state government had constructed and distributed 3,406 houses to some people in the state between 2007 till date.
The NLC Chairman in the state, Alhaji Danyaro Tambuwal, commended the sustained efforts of the state government to improve workers’ welfare.
He among other things appealed to the state government to implement a new salary structure for workers.
The tone was different for human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, as he urged Nigerian workers not to give up the struggle for liberation of the country from all forms of oppression.
Falana made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Abuja.
He said the contribution of Nigerian workers to the development of the nation could not be undermined.
He appealed to them not to give up the struggle, irrespective of the challenges they were facing.
“Nigerian workers should intensify the struggle for the liberation of our country from the shackles of oppression.’’
He then urged the Federal Government and relevant stakeholders to put necessary measures in place to rescue female students who were abducted in Chibok, Borno, on April 14.
The human rights lawyer, who described the situation as pathetic, said “there is need to rescue those girls so that they can rejoin their parents.’’
Meanwhile, Gov. Theodore Orji of Abia had commended workers in the state for their improved productivity, which he said had a positive effect on the state’s economy.
Orji, who made the commendation on Thursday during the 2014 Workers’ Day ceremony in Umuahia, added that the successes recorded in various sectors of the state were made possible through the diligence of the workers.
Earlier, the Abia NLC Chairman, Mr Sylvanus Eyeh, had said that “Workers Day is an opportunity to rejuvenate the struggle to attain equity for all workers and honour the call for high quality productivity in all workplaces across the state.’’
He Chairman of the Trade Union Congress, Mr Christopher Okpara, then appealed to the state government to implement policies that would improve the lives of the citizenry.
Okpara called for the revitalisation of moribund industries in the state and the extension of agriculture drive to gainfully engage Abia youths.
The celebration featured match-past by various trade unions in the state.
In Bauchi, the NLC Chairman, Hamisu Gital, said Nigeria public workers were being threatened by job insecurity and uncertainties.
Gital said “we are faced with job insecurity, uncertainties, premature retirement, irregular payment of salaries and doubtful future of public service employment due to civil service reforms.
“In spite of World Bank report in 2013 that the nation’s economy continues to grow at a rate of 7.3 per cent, it has not translated into much improvement in the lives of the working class.
“On the contrary, poverty had been on the increase, as those living below poverty line have continued to increase as 67 per cent of the population are living on less than two dollars per day.’’
The state Chairman, Trade Union Congress (TUC), Mohammed Usman, commended civil servants in Bauchi State for their cooperation during crises periods.
He decried the irregular payment of workers’ salaries in the state and appealed to the state government to restore the payment of salaries as at when due to reduce the hardships faced by workers. (NAN)

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