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Labour Unions Not Economic Saboteurs, NLC Slams SGF


(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – Nigeria Labour Congress has slammed the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, George Akume, for describing Monday’s nationwide strike by organised labour as a “treasonable felony and economic sabotage”.

While kicking against the SGF’s insinuations, the NLC stated that the former Benue State Governor’s statement has opened up his personality.

In a statement by its Head, Information and Public Affairs, Benson Upah, NLC argued that “Those who loot our treasury around the country, those who divert public resources meant for hospitals and schools; those who are involved in foreign exchange round-tripping; padding of budgets and inflating contracts including those who steal trillions of Naira in the name of subsidy are the real economic saboteurs who commit treasonable felony”.

It is worth recalling that Akume, who spoke in Abuja on Thursday in a meeting with the national executive council of the Christian Association of Nigeria, stated that labour committed treason by shutting down the national grid during the nationwide strike.

“Nowhere in the world has labour ever tampered with the national grid. It is treason! Treasonable felony is economic sabotage; you don’t do that.

“We are trying to rebuild the economy. The president is picking it up, and they want to destroy it. Of what use is that to all of us? That is not the way,” he had said.

However, the NLC’s statement read, “The Nigeria Labour Congress expresses its profound disappointment and strong condemnation of the recent comments made by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation regarding the nationwide strike embarked upon by the NLC and the Trade Union Congress.

“The SGF’s characterisation of our legitimate and constitutionally protected industrial action as a ‘treasonable felony’ and ‘economic sabotage’ is not only deeply troubling but also undermines the spirit of constructive dialogue necessary for resolving the ongoing issues.

“These demands are grounded in the need for economic justice and fairness for all Nigerian workers and citizens.

“The SGF we are sure clearly knows those whose actions are treasonable and sabotages our economy. Those who loot our treasury around the country, those who divert public resources meant for hospitals and schools; those who are involved in foreign exchange round-tripping; padding of budgets and inflating contracts including those who steal trillions of Naira in the name of subsidies are the real Economic saboteurs who commit a treasonable felony.

“These people are in costly Agbada and drive in convoys all around the nation occupying the corridors of power and not innocent workers who are not slaves but chose to withdraw their services because of the inhuman treatment meted on them by the Government.

“It is particularly disheartening that the SGF, a high-ranking government official, would make statements that trivialize the genuine grievances of Nigerian workers. His assertion that he cannot afford to pay each of his four drivers ₦100,000 monthly is a stark reminder of the disconnect between the government and the realities faced by ordinary Nigerians.

“Such statements do not contribute to the resolution of the issues at hand but rather exacerbate tensions. It is a clear demonstration that the SGF pays his personal staff starvation wages and may be telling us that he is a slave master. We may have to remind him that a 50kg bag of rice is N88,000 which leaves the worker with just N12,000 if he is to pay the paltry sum, he claims that he is unable to pay.

“Anyway, one wonders what the SGF does with four drivers alone? We would also want to know what work justifies the huge salaries and allowances the SGF takes home all the time? Do we need to wonder too far why we are here as a nation when you have individuals with this mindset occupying sensitive positions in the corridors of power?”

 


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