Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq today met with top labour leaders in the state, appealing to them that the recent removal of fuel subsidy had been done in good faith to curb further damage to the economy.
This came as the Governor approved immediate reduction of workdays for the workforce in the state to three days to lessen the impact of the subsidy removal on their earnings.
Civil servants will now work for three days in Kwara State, as against the current five days. Civil service authorities are expected to release further guidance on the measure, including how it affects health workers and teachers.
“Removal of subsidy is definitely a painful decision that the government had to take in the larger interest of the country. It is the cheapest and most sustainable option available to curb criminal bleeding of the resources at the expense of the larger public,” according to an excerpt of the Governor’s address to the Labour leaders.
“Subsidy regime means Nigeria is running a deficit budget that continues to hurt economic growth and make people poorer. The country was having to borrow to feed a tiny few, while important things like infrastructural development, industrial growth, job creation receive lesser resources.
“Now that subsidy has been removed as there is no provision for it in the budget anymore, the government is open to veritable ideas from the labour unions on how to redirect the savings for maximum public benefit, including pay rise.
“Mr. President and all of us (Governors) really acknowledge the short-term pains that come with the development, but we are committed to making sure that the interest of the workers and the Nigerian people is protected.”
The meeting was attended by the NLC Chairman Comrade Muritala Saheed Olayinka; State TUC Chairman Comrade Joseph Tunde Meshach; Chairman Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) Kwara state chapter Dr. Ola Ahmad; Chairman National Association of Government General Medical and Dental Practitioners Association (NAGGMDP) Dr. Yusuf Amuda; Vice Chairman National Union of Printing, Publishing and Paper Products Workers (NUPPPPROW) Comrade Mrs. Medinat Jimoh; as well as the representatives of Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE); among others. They were led to the meeting by the Head of Service Mrs Susan Modupe Oluwole.
State NLC Chairman, Comrade Muritala Saheed Olayinka, said the call for such a meeting shows good leadership on the part of the Governor.
He agreed with AbdulRazaq that dialogue is better than strike action at this time, urging the Governor to use his good office as NGF Chairman to intervene in the national issue for amicable resolutions.
“As said by you, we know there is a little misunderstanding between leadership of NLC and the representatives of the federal government. We have discussed it holistically within ourselves at the state level that when a negotiation is ongoing, it doesn’t call for strike demonstration,” he said.
State TUC Chairman, Comrade Joseph Tunde Meshach, said engagement and dialogue are the best options to resolve the issues.
He appealed to the government to be sincere as they go about the discussion of a new minimum wage for workers and palliatives for the poor masses.