Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike of Rivers State has lampooned the labor movement in Nigeria for their indifference to the incessant increment in the pump price of petroleum products, electricity tariff, and insecurity in the country.
He said the labor movement in the country is dead because it has lost its force of engagement with the government and hardly can achieve anything good for the generality of the workforce and Nigerians.
Governor Wike made the assertion at the inauguration of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) Secretariat Building, performed by the National President of TUC, Comrade Quadri Olaleye, on Friday in Ozuoba Town of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State.
The Rivers State Governor observed that the leadership of labor has left substance to pursue shadows and hardly can speak in a manner that can change or achieve a reversal of the many anti-people policies being implemented by the Progressives Congress (APC) led Federal Government.
Governor Wike stated that under former President Goodluck Jonathan, the leadership of labor mobilized Nigeria workers against some of his policies because he is from a minority ethnic group, but has lost their voice under a majority tribe president.
“It is unfortunate that Labour has abandoned its role in this country. You are chasing things that are personal to you. All over the world, when the government is not going the right way, it is labour that comes out to say we cannot allow it. The majority of our people are civil servants and have others to cater to. But since the inception of this government, labour has died.
“Under former President Goodluck Jonathan, labour was alive. They said the country must come down because he is from a minority area. But look at what is happening. There’s an increase in fuel pump price, insecurity, and an increase in electricity tariff. Where is labor? Where is TUC, where is NLC? The only thing I hear is minimum wage.
He further continued: “Let the world hear it, labour has died. Nigerians cannot get anything substantive from you. Labour is like an opposition party. Labour does not work for any ruling government, no. But now you people are working for the ruling government, but under Jonathan, occupy Nigeria. And that is why we say there is so much injustice in this country. Because I come from a place, a minority area, you can treat me anyhow, but when you come from the other side nobody can touch you. That is not how this country should move forward. Be firm and make a decision and know that was is wrong and let Nigerians have confidence in you.”
Speaking on the TUC Building, Governor Wike said his administration has provided the Secretariat to strengthen the independence of labor so that it can perform its duties effectively.
“Mr. President, what we have done here is our own little contribution to make your people independent and work for the interest of the country, not for the interest of only minimum wage. This minimum wage will come when it will come. No governor is anti-workers. I have brothers and sisters who are civil servants, so how will I be against them. But we must do things in ways that things are supposed to be done.”
He urged labor to always engage his administration concerning the larger issues that border on workers’ productivity and welfare beyond the demands for check-off dues.
The governor while reacting to labor’s opposition against the National Assembly’s plan to remove the issue of minimum wage from the exclusive list to the concurrent list, insisted that workers must realize that the financial capacity of the federating states differs.
“Let us face reality, if we are to operate true federalism, you cannot say that the man who is in Sokoto should earn the same thing with the man who is in Lagos, it is not possible. The house rent in Lagos is more expensive than house rent in Sokoto. You cannot say that the man in Logo should earn the same thing as the man who is in Rivers. So people should be very realistic.
“In America, somebody who works in California cannot earn the same as the person working in Chicago. No. You, people, say the federal government should fix salary. How can the federal government fix my salary for me? He did not employ you. I employed you. I sit down with you, we negotiate, then you say the federal government should fix what everybody will earn”.
Inaugurating the TUC Secretariat, National President of TUC, Quadri Olaleye applauded Governor Wike for completing the project and not abandoning it after the groundbreaking ceremony.
According to Olaleye, the governor’s achievements have made him controversial that was why he was one of those who also castigated Governor Wike for his contributions to the judiciary but he understands it better now.