Nine months after the Federal Government convened an economic revival retreat in March 2016, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has said so far the President Buhari’s administration has shown no indication about how to steer the economy out of the current recession.
NLC president Ayuba Wabba in a New Year Message noted that Nigerians were not seeing the positive impact of government’s plans for the economy.
“It is common knowledge that in times of economic recession, governments put funds into the economy, building infrastructure and increase social spending to reflate the economy,” Wabba said.
“Not much is being done in this direction to get us out of the economic recession. Government, on the contrary, is sticking to its neo-liberal economic management path.
He continued by saying: “We were cautiously optimistic that the government has finally listened to the several criticisms about its lack of deft in handling of the economy… If the premise or rationale of government’s economic management is along the neo-liberal model, then nothing substantive would come out of it.”
Wabba lamented the dismal performance of the energy sector in spite of billions that have gone into the sector even after privatisation. He said the current situation in the energy sector is exactly what the country will continue to have when responsibility of the state is abdicated.
“Given our stage of development, our country needs to adopt the path of planning, the path of the state as the engine of development. Government, therefore, needs to reflect and possibly go back to the drawing board in view of unforeseen challenges in order to deliver on the promise of change,” the labour leader said.
Wabba vowed to ensure that the federal government constitute a panel to renegotiate a new minimum wage, proposed as a living wage for workers.
He lamented that the purchasing power of Nigerian workers has depreciated so much that it is a wonder individuals on the existing minimum wage of N18,000 are able to make ends meet in 30 days.
“At the beginning of 2016, with the Naira at N197 to $1, the minimum wage was equivalent of $91.3. At N495 to $1 this has in twelve month depreciated to $36.3. The May 2016 increase in the price of fuel from N86 a litre to N145 a litre, and the attendant inflationary pressures, should have trigged an automatic increase in the minimum wage,” he said.
The labour leader said that with the erosion in the living standard of workers occasioned by the free fall of the Naira, and the rising cost of living, NLC will insist on the new wage and ensure that Nigerian workers are not made the sacrificial lamb to the recession.