Sunday 28th May, 2017
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Nigeria workers were better-off under Jonathan - Kwamande

Nigeria workers were better-off under Jonathan - Kwamande

Comrade Kwamande Kwamande is a Chartered Accountant and Unionist. He was Secretary of the Nigerian Labour Congress in Benue State and currently the National Auditor, Nigerian Civil Service Union. In this interview with The AUTHORITY’s AUSTINE TULE , he criticised the Buhari-led administration, saying it has so far failed to improve the lives of the Nigerian workers, while he chided the NLC for compromising the welfare of the Nigerian workers.
Beginning with the pres­ent plight of Nigerian workers, Comrade Kwamande Kwamamde, said; “Well, let me begin with the change itself, those who voted for change thought that the other regime was worst and had performed below expec­tations and so demanded for a change. But unfortunately, what they wanted is not ex­actly what is happening now. If you look at the standard of living, everything has sky­rocketed.
“What is the value of work­ers wage in Nigeria? Its just about 56 dollar equivalent and the system has unfortunately weaken all institutions in the country, it has weaken even the resolve of the Nigerian La­bour Congress. If you cannot feed your family, what then is the essence of the change? During the regime that was said to be very corrupt, the exchange rate was 190 but this one that has recovered all the monies, brought TSA, tighten all the linkages has rather taken the exchange rate to over 510 Naira per Dollar. Nigerian workers are better of under Jonathan than now
“On the other hand, in­flation rate when Jonathan handed over power to Bu­hari was 12.5 percent now is about 18.8, and when look at the GDP you will discover that the per capital income it­self has weaken the Nigerian worker. In 2012, there were agitations where workers al­most collapse the Jonathan administration over incre­ment in prices of fuel, funny enough that goodwill was ex­tended to this regime yet, we have not seen any good thing on ground and today, petrol is been sold at 145 per litre and now there is a likely hood of an increment judging from the body language of this present government.
“The marketers have be­gan to kick for an increment maybe by 10 Naira to make it 150 and when this people begin to kick, you should know that something wrong is about to happen in the in­dustry. It is quit unfortunate that the goodwill extended to this regime has been abuse by bad policies on ground, weak planning and no thoughtful reasoning within the system, and so today even in the face of the change we all yearn for, we have found ourselves in a terrible situation. It is very unfortunate.”
Asked who to blame for the harsh economic situa­tion in the country, he said, “I think I will blame those while coming into power promised Nigerians heaven and earth. They told us everything that we wanted to hear, on petrol they told us this, on economy and on workers issues they told us sweet words, now that they are on the driver’s seat, they have completely lost control of governance.
“Today, nobody knows the direction the governance is heading to. In fact, I make bold to state that there is more insecurity in the country to­day than what was obtainable during the immediate past regime especially when you look at the herdsmen attacks on our people. This is not what we bargained for. Now that a strongman whom we knew in 1984, who we said has in­tegrity is on seat, we suddenly come to see that government is been run on auto pilot, a government being run on an archaic machinery even when the whole world has gone dig­ital for over 25 years.
“Look at the Ministers on the other hand, they are sim­ply not working. We expected a lot from them, but most of them are not working, can Buhari then do it alone? Go to the market and see what is happening, prices of ev­ery single product has sky­rocketed, even biscuits. And it shows that the economic team is not just working.
“I will strongly suggest that the government bring in pro­fessionals to come in and help remedy the situation, party affiliations notwithstanding. This country belongs to all of us and we must endevour to do that which is right to salvage it. When you go to the market nobody is selling to you on the basis of party lines. This is a government of the people and it behooves on it to better their lots.
“People said Jonathan re­gime was worst but I want us to do a clear comparism, the Minister of Information came out the other time to declare that the two years of this administration were better than the six years of Jonathan and people almost stoned him because he was lying. Infact , everything about that regime was bet­ter than what we have now. Remember what Prince Tony Momoh said sometime ago; “stone this regime in two years if it cannot deliver on its promises”and by all stan­dards, this regime has not performed at all, I wonder if they have any hope for 2019 because from every indica­tion, the APC is a failed gov­ernment.”
On non-payment of work­ers salaries by some state governments despite Federal government’s bailout fund to states. He said: “I will look at it from this way one, if you go to states like Cross River, Anambra and few others for example, this people don’t plug money from trees, most of them got less from the bailout funds that were given but they are doing much bet­ter than the states that col­lected huge bailout including the APC controlled states.
“They got so much money and they have pocketed the Labour Unions in their states because they determine the kind of Labour Union Lead­ers that emerged. Butmwhat they do not know is that, it is the kind of labour union you have that jots the govern­ment to seat up. When you have a virile and up to date Union that will tell you the truth, then it enables you to work better.
“Anybody that is syco­phantic as a Labour leader cannot help any government, because even when you are going wrong they cannot ad­vise you. I was happy when I heard that Federal Govern­ment had set up seven audit­ing firms to move round and ascertain how the states used the fund. And it is a good development and I pray the auditing firms do their work well otherwise some of them will use it to flitter away the goodwill the people gave them.
Accessing the current leadership of NLC at the Na­tional Level, he said:
“The labour in the coun­try today particularly at the national level has failed the Nigerian workers and that largely accounted for why the strike of 2016 failed woe­fully owing to the lack of confidence in it by the work­ers. The leadership of the la­bour has been heavily com­promised. For instance look at the time they are coming to negotiate for minimum wage when the budget has already been presented to the national assembly and is undergoing defence, so are they expecting a supplemen­tary bill for that purpose? It shows that they are off track; there are several critical is­sues that affect the Nigerian worker today.”

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