NLC President Comments on Grain Palliative

The President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Joe Ajaero, has expressed disappointment over the planned provision of grains to Nigerians by the Federal Government as a palliative for the food insecurity

He noted this when he played a guest on ARISE News Interview on Sunday, he said, “I feel sad when we talk of the federal government giving people grains as if we are giving grains to pigeons and all these other birds. At this time and age in Nigeria, we are talking of the federal government providing how many tonnes of grains to Nigerians as a measure of stemming the level of hunger and poverty in the country. I beg to disagree that that is a serious insult to Nigerians I think that we should think of something else.”

It would be recalled that President Tinubu had ordered the immediate release of 102,000 metric tonnes of rice, maize, millet, and garri from government reserves and stores of the rice millers to the Nigerian market, last week.

Ajaero also blasted the Federal Executive Council, stating that their meeting has become more of a procurement meeting than a place where policy issues are resolved.

He said, “If somebody is telling us that it is going to start work today and tomorrow, have they kept the promise? That is the question. Heck no. I think the issue of trust should be paramount in whatever we do as a government and as a people. If we look at the end of every federal executive council meeting you will discover that the federal executive council meeting seems to have transformed into a procurement committee… not directly on policy issues.

“Even when they had agreements with organized labour, with Nigerians, such meetings don’t come out with clear statements on how to implement them, and I am getting worried. So, when Nigerians are hungry, you give them some bags of grains as a solution, that’s not what we need at this point in time.”

The NLC president continued by addressing the impending minimum wage review and stating that the labor union’s demand for minimum pay may grow as a result of the Naira’s persistent depreciation and the high rate of inflation. He even suggested that a minimum wage of one million naira would be feasible.

He said, “This one million naira may be relevant if the value of the naira continues to depreciate, and we need to if the inflation continues to depreciate if it is not changed. Because the demand for labour is equally dependent on what is happening in the society. You will remember that by the time we are contemplating 200,000, the exchange rate was around 800, 900. As we talk today, the exchange rate is about 1400 or even more. Now those are the issues that determine the demand, and it is equally affecting the cost of living and we have always said it that our demands will be based on the cost-of-living index.”

He further said, “Now are we going to get a minimum wage that will not be enough for transportation even for one week?  We have to factor in all these issues, and that will determine the federal government’s commitment to this demonstration. It is not just that they want to give us minimum wage, the old minimum wage will be expiring by April. And ordinarily, the federal government ought to have set up the community six months before that time so that negotiation would have commenced, but up till now, the federal government didn’t do it until they set up, they inaugurated the committee, and the committee has not sat.

“So, it appears we are going to work within one month or two to agree on a figure, and I doubt how those ones are going to. Especially when you look at the people that the federal government assembled as members of the committee. They looked at some of the governors that are not even paying the existing minimum wage and even they have a minister of budget who didn’t implement his minimum wage as a governor. Now, if you have the people in the government team on the issue of minimum wage, some of us are not seeing a bright future on the work of this new minimum wage committee.”

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