From Olanrewaju Lawal, Birnin Kebbi
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara states have insisted that the national minimum wage must be retained on the exclusive legislative list of the constitution, while local governments, the judiciary the legislature be given full autonomy.
The NLC made the recommendation during the zonal public hearing for the review of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by the House of Representatives, which comprises Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara states stakeholders held in Birnin Kebbi.
Dr Muntaka Yusha’u, Head of Education Department of NLC headquarters, led chairmen of the Congress of Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara states, Halidu Umar Alhassan, Aminu U Ahmad and Sani Halliru in their presentations.
While presenting their submissions on wage autonomy for local government, legislative, judiciary, pension and industrial relations, Dr Yusha’u argued that Nigeria has been a member of the International Labour Organisation since October 17, 1960, and had domesticated it through the National Assembly twenty-six International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions, including eight of its fundamental conventions.
He noted that any contemplation to move the national minimum wage from the exclusive legislative list to the concurrent legislative list would only expose Nigeria to international ridicule and opprobrium.
‘It would, therefore, be anomalous, incongruous and contemptible of global standards and order to even contemplate removing labour from the Exclusive Legislative list. That would be tantamount to renouncing Nigeria’s ratification of extant ILO Conventions and repudiating Nigeria’s membership of the ILO. We are sure such is not the agenda of this noble engagement,’ Yusha’u said.
The organised labour stated in their prayers:
‘That the National Assembly should retain labour, the national minimum wage on the exclusive legislative as currently listed under the second schedule part 1(34) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and also retain the general administration of pension as currently captured in section 173 of the 1999 Constitution and as listed under the second schedule part 1(34) of the constitution.
‘That the National Assembly should favourably consider our demands for the full realization of local government autonomy, legislative autonomy and autonomy for the judiciary arm of government.
‘The National Assembly should consider our submissions on strengthening and promoting socio-economic and cultural rights of Nigerians especially as captured under Chapter 2 of the 1999 Constitution under review.’
The NLC argued that the attempt to remove labour and the national minimum wage from the exclusive to the concurrent legislative list was borne out of the desire by a few state governors to trample on the rights of workers and pay them slave wages.
While speaking on the removal of immunity, Yusha’u insisted that the position of the labour was that any political office holders facing criminal cases should be stripped of immunity, to be retained only in civil cases.