By JOAN NWAGWU
ABUJA- The outgoing President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr Ayuba Wabba, has said that the organised labour is seeking an end to the nation’s fuel importation policy as it will lead to a reduction in the prices of fuel.
Wabba gave the hint on Tuesday in Abuja at the congress’s 13th Quadrennial National Delegates Conference.
The theme of the conference is ”Building People’s Power, National Unity and Quest For A New Social Contract”.
According to him, rather than seek a reduction in the prices of fuel, labour will seek a policy change.
“The policy of importation was imposed on Nigerians in 2003 by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and that is why the price model of products is based on importation,” he said.
Wabba said that the Federal Government could remove the subsidy on petroleum products when it starts refining locally.
“Refining locally will eradicate subsidy and corruption in the entire industry.
“When we refine petroleum in Nigeria, it will create job opportunities for the people. We can organise youths in clusters and give them jobs and by so doing, 50 per cent of the problem is solved,” he said.
The NLC president noted that oil was God’s gift to Nigeria and hence it should impact on the economy positively.
“It is sad that people queue endlessly at the banks to access money and at filling stations to buy fuel.
“Nigerians have been pushed to the wall concerning getting their money in the bank and buying fuel at filling stations; if the issue is not addressed within the shortest possible time, nobody can predict what can happen,” he said.
On tax, the labour leader said that the government should prioritise tax to be self-reliant.
“Correct tax payment will enable the country to remain a solid state because we have opened our borders and we have all manners of textile materials coming in.
“In fact, this is the reason why the textile industry is going down,” he said.
Wabba, however, pointed out that irregular power supply was a major factor affecting textile companies as the few existing one could no longer pay the exorbitant rates.
On Public Service, he called for 100 per cent review of workers salaries, different from minimum wage increase.
He said that salary review was implemented for political office holders in 2008, therefore, a boost in the salaries of workers would enhance productivity.
He advised the Federal Government against privatising the health and education sectors as these were the fundamental rights of every citizen.
“In some regions, 20 million children are already out of school, so, if education or health is privatised, people will not receive quality healthcare service and education,” he said.
On security, the outgoing NLC president appealed to the government to do everything possible to address the challenge.
He recalled that the late Musa Lawal, the General Secretary of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), was among those killed in the Kaduna train attack as a result of insecurity.
Wabba, who was elected president from the health union in 2015, thanked the workers for their support, adding that in his 35 years as a labour activist, he contested 13 elective positions and won all.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the NLC, made up of 50 affiliate unions, cuts across the private and public sectors.
NAN reports that about 3,000 delegates within and outside Nigeria, are attending the two-day conference where a new president will be elected on Wednesday. (NAN)