As demonstrated by workers during the May Day in Abuja, Nigeria risks national industrial crisis except governments at all levels give due attention to the critical issue of compensation of workers. Hungry workers are legitimately angry workers. Nigerian workers are not only hungry but legitimately angry.

We commend both the Senate and the House of Representatives for their respective facilitating roles to address the current issue of national minimum wage. However, the responsibility lies squarely with President Muhammadu Buhari ably being represented by Vice President Osinbajo.
A minimum wage is the minimum amount of money an employer of labour is required to pay the lowest paid worker in both public and private sector. It should therefore NOT be tied to the vagaries of criminal delayed payment of salaries in some States and Federal agencies. Some State governments and many private sector employers pay as at when due. Refusal of bad employers to pay cannot be an excuse to deny workers new minimum pay.

It is about the rule of law. National Minimum Wage (Amendment) Act 2011 which offers the current N18,000 was for a 5-year cycle due for review in 2015. The five-year time limit was to avoid minimum wage stagnation and attendant seemingly increases that follow. In UK minimum wage is reviewed yearly. Today it is £7.5 per hour, about N37,000 per day!

Long before the current recession, Nigeria workers have long been in depression. With Naira devaluation and high inflation, 2010 negotiated national minimum wage of N18,000 which was about $120 in 2010 has fallen to below $50 in 2017 worsening income poverty. Nigeria cannot get out of recession with poorly paid work-force. The best way to reinflate the economy is through wage increase linked with productivity improvement and prompt payment of the existing salaries by states and local governments.

President Buhari should therefore urgently constitute the tripartite committee on the review of the current national minimum wage within a short time-limit.

As an affiliate of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and a critical stakeholder in the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS), we are concerned with recent developments in the pension industry.

The Nigeria’s pension industry risks avoidable crisis following the recent abrupt termination of the appointment of Mrs. Chinelo Anohu-Amazu, former Director General of PenCom and appointment of Dikko Aliyu Abdulrahman as new Director General by President Muhammadu Buhari subject to confirmation by the Senate. Labour observes that the termination of a tenured appointment flouts the provision of the Pension Reform Act 2014. President Buhari is an acknowledged respecter of due process as witnessed by the way he has managed to transmit delegation to Acting President Osinbajo as required by 1999 Constitution. The health of pension assets is no less important than the health of the President. The Presidency should therefore NOT casualise appointments of DG of critical pension institution like PENCOM.

Controversies have continued to trail the termination of the appointment of the former Director General and appointment of Mrs. Aisha Dahir-Umar as the Ag, Director General of the Commission pending the confirmation of the Director General designate, Dikko Aliyu Abdulrahman, by the Senate.

We hereby call on President Muhammadu Buhari through the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and the National Assembly to revisit the abrupt termination.

PenCom is a regulatory body established by Statute not Extra Ministerial Departments and as such cannot be covered by the provisions of S.171. of the Constitution as canvassed by some. Sections 19, 20 and 21 of the PRA 2014 deal with the conditions of appointment and removal of the Chairman, Director General and Commissioners. The Federal government is expected to comply with these statutory provisions.

The Director General’s appointment was made via senate confirmation for a fixed term for the regulatory body. The Director General was confirmed on September 30, 2014 for a five year term which is expected to end September 29, 2019. The DG’s removal must therefore be done in accordance with the Pension Reform Act 2014.

With this new development both the NLC and TUC must make urgent case for workers’ control of the country’s pension industry. Indeed pension fund is workers’ capital and should not be a play-ground to reward failed politicians. What is at stake is the life of millions of working women and men after meritorious service to the nation.

Already, following sustained interventions by PENCOM under the past Director General, the Federal government has just released N58b for payment of pending accrued rights. This amount, which was cash backed on April 21, 2017 covers only January 2016 to August 2016. September 2016 to date is still outstanding. All stakeholders must join hands such that contributory pension scheme does not turn into the old moribund non-contributory scheme.

One of the key achievements of PenCom under both Mr. M.K. Ahmad and Mrs. Chinelo Anohu-Amazu was the regulatory intervention to save First Guarantee Pension Limited. First Guarantee Pension Limited is one of the registered Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs) in the country following the enactment of the Pension Reform Act 2004 as amended. The National Pension Commission (PenCom) in exercise of its powers under the Pension Reform Act constituted the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of First Guarantee Pension Limited in August 2011 following the removal of some Directors of the PFA for unsound corporate governance practices which significantly undermined the pension assets under the management of the PFA.

The IMC was given the mandate to superintend over the affairs of the PFA under the direct supervision of the Commission.

The Interim Management Committee (IMC) has stabilized the operations of the PFA. It has added considerable value that has made First Guarantee Pension Limited (FGPL) one of the leading PFAs in the country today.

The PFA had recorded steady growth. Indeed, from the Summary of Account of FGPL, it was clear that as at August 2011, the PFA recorded a loss of N422,953,000.00. However, by April, 2016, the PFA had recorded a profit of N1,922,390,000.00. The value of the RSA Fund under the management of the PFA during the period grew from N32.7 Billion to over N130 Billion. We should not allow any PFA to fall into the hands of the old scavengers and predators of pension funds.

The challenge lies in deepening the gains that have been recorded under the contributory pension scheme. The over 6 million workers already captured under the reform are commendable. But this number is a far cry from over 80 million potential work force in Nigeria. The 6.7 trillion Naira funds contributed so far can hardly meet the future income adequacy of retirees, which underscores the need for an intensified effort by all stakeholders.

Our union, and IndustriALL global union, had identified with the struggle for the release of abducted Chibok school girls. The kidnapped are not just girls or mere statistics but future workers and mothers.

We commend President Buhari for the release of additional 82 of the abducted Chibok school girls. President Buhari has recorded a great security feat by further securing the release of more abducted Chibok girls. But the release of abducted girls who returned as unwilling ‘mothers’ after 3 years of captivity cannot be Nigeria’s ‘anniversary gift’. In the first place, the school girls and many others held in captive ought not to have been kidnapped. Secondly, nobody has been held responsible for their abduction. So nothing really to celebrate but much to thin over.

We also condemn in strong terms the silly doubt expressed by Governor Fayoye about the abducted girls. Governor Fayoye is increasingly devaluing the notion of statesmanship as he trivializes every serious issue. Former President Goodluck Jonathan under whose administration the girls were kidnapped in the first instance must dissociate himself from the silly comments of some his party members on the abducted Chibok girls. Girls/daughters of many of us since 2014 have graduated from secondary and even move to universities. We should not turn the tragedy of parents of Chibok girls to cheap political fortune.

Let there be no political capital out of the agonies of the girls and their parents. We must all work to eliminate the root of the tragedy in the North East through development and mass education.

Despite the Federal government’s declared commitment to diversification and launching of Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, the few remaining textile industries are closing down with loss of not less than 1000 direct and indirect jobs in the past one month. President Buhari through the Acting President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo must quickly reconvene stakeholders meeting on textile with a view of combating smuggling and ensuring uninterrupted power supply to industry, failing which Nigeria risks permanent under-development and de-industrialisation.

Affiliates of IndustriALL Global Union will be participating in the fifth edition of the Okpekpe international 10km road race scheduled to hold on Saturday May 13 in Okpekpe, Etsakor East local Government Area of Edo State from 6am to 9.00 a.m. As part of our advocacy, the organizers have agreed to allow members of affiliate unions of Industrial global union to participate in the race to promote union causes with respect to fighting Precarious Work, for Living Wage and for Re-Industrialization in Africa.

John Adaji Issa Aremu, mni
DSC_0772VICE PRESIDENT, IndustriALL Global Union

Filed in: Press release

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