The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has accused some governors of diverting the bailout funds from the Federal Government meant to pay workers’ salaries and pensions, into fixed deposit accounts for personal gains.
NLC President Ayuba Wabba made the allegation in his message to Nigerians, yesterday, on today’s 55th Independence anniversary.
According to him, such action was unacceptable and would be resisted.
Wabba said that the NLC was already working with the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to track such funds and take appropriate actions.
He hailed the National Council of State and President Muhammadu Buhari for paying the backlog of salaries. But regretted that the enthusiasm and commitment by the Council of State and the President on the matter had not been replicated in some states.
The labour leader alleged that rather than pay salaries and pensions, some of the governors “have elected to play politics with the welfare of their workers with some of them quoted as saying that they reserve the right to do what they like with the intervention fund from the federal government since it is a loan.
“We note particularly that payment of pensions at state and local governments is a major problem because they operate defined benefit pension system which often times is not funded. And even when it is funded, the governors and their cohorts help themselves to these funds because they are exposed.
“We condemn this attitude and strongly warn that henceforth, any state that defaults in the regular payment of salaries and pensions will face the wrath of the workers. Salaries and pensions are inalienable rights of workers and retirees and not privileges. We also call for pension reforms at state and local government levels to enhance the security of pension funds and regular payments.
“We would want to sound a note of caution to the governors who have fixed the intervention funds in banks for pecuniary benefits. It is totally unacceptable. The Nigeria Labour Congress is working with ICPC to track the fixed funds for the purpose of taking appropriate action,” Wabba said.
The NLC President argued that the performance of the economy has been of great concern to Labour, stressing that “in the months preceding the 2015 general elections, the performance nosedived largely due to a number of reasons including dwindling oil sales in the international market, fiscal indiscipline, corruption, rising cost of governance and unhelpful macro-economic policies.
“However, the general elections, arguably was the trigger, as the economy cascaded to its lowest ebb immediately after the elections, in recent years. Funding the 2015 budget was difficult, government borrowed to pay salaries.
“Even then, not all MDAs were paid. Save two or three states, the rest were unable to pay salaries or pensions leading to a backlog of up to six months or more. The Naira was massively devalued while inflation rose. Practically, everything came to a halt. There were clear signs of restiveness in the polity.
“It was therefore not surprising that one of the first things President Muhammadu Buhari did (after being sworn in), was to create an intervention fund through the instrumentality of the Council of State to enable the states pay up backlogs of salaries and pension arrears. There have been other interventions that have considerably eased tension in the polity.”