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Buhari plunged Nigeria in financial mess, broke, with over N30trn debt- Akpabio

Akpabio

… Labour rejects Gbajabiamila

By Tunde Opalana

With efforts ongoing to douse feud between organized labour and Federal Government (FG) over the dire socio-economic consequences of the fuel subsidy removal, labour leaders have roundly rejected the committee led by the Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila to look into all aspects of the matter and come up with solutions favorable to Nigerians.

The development came as Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, who met with labour leaders yesterday, disclosed that the former President Muhammadu Buhari administration left the country broke and in a financial mess on exiting office on May 29, 2023.

According to him, Buhari left in his trail a debt of overN30 trillion, which the administration of President Bola Tinubu inherited.

At a meeting between leadership of the Senate and leaders of both Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC), Gbajabiamila was described as too preoccupied with state functions at the President Villa to find time for the all-important national assignment of heading the committee.

Organized labour also dismissed the committee, put in place by FG, as incapable of resolving the issues.

National President of NLC, Joe Ajaero also told the Senate leadership that Tinubu’s wage award committee is yet to sit two months after the removal of fuel subsidy.

The NLC president said: “Part of our challenge is the issue of the committee put in place. The committee seems not to be capable. As labour, we have done negotiations and engagement with the government from the time of Ekaette as SGF (Secretary to Government of the Federation), Kingibe, Pius Anyim and Boss Mustapha.

“At no time had the Chief of Staff to the President, who is very busy, called to negotiate or lead negotiations.

“And that has delayed the issues. Even since after our protest, another meeting has not reconvened, although President promised that he will restructure the mechanism of engagement with government to help things to be treated fast.

“We had agreed on wage award, and up till this moment the committee on wage award is yet to sit, “

Ajaero lamented the plight of Nigerians as a result of removal of fuel subsidy without putting anything on ground to ameliorate the harsh effects in the country.

He told the lawmakers that while labour leaders were still deliberating on the old price of N537 per litre of petrol with a court ruling for status quo to remain on the matter, surprisingly government decided to increase fuel price to N620 per litre.

Speaking further, the NLC President said that the details and related aspects on the $800 million which government intended to borrow to cushion effects of subsidy removal had not been made known to labour, about urging FG not to use the list of beneficiaries of cash transfer which the Buhari administration used for similar exercise as the latter’s records were doubtful.

Ajaero said: “Nothing is yet to happen on the issue of $800million projected to be borrowed. We have not perfected the list of the people who will benefit from it.

“We should not follow the record that was used in 2019 because we’ve our doubts on that record. And no indices have been put forward to detect those that are termed poor.”

Responding, President of the Senate, Akpabio appreciated organized labour for its patience and understanding to assist government.

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He told the labour leaders that although President Tinubu has saved N1 trillion as a result of fuel subsidy removal, but the President inherited a country that was broke and with debt of over N30 trillion.

Akpabio assured the aggrieved labour leaders of partnership and that he would approach the Executive to ameliorate the suffering of Nigerians.

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