By Martin Paul, Abuja
President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Mr Bobboi Kaigama, has expressed worries over increasing rate of inflation and the country’s debt profile.
At the opening of its Triennial National Delegates Conference in Abuja, Kaigama said it was a matter for regret that little efforts was being made to solve the issue.
According to him, with the country’s current debt profile still at N24.3 trillion, efforts must be geared towards ending borrowing, and looking inwards for self-sufficiency.
“Our economy is in dire strait, regrettably, those who should manage it are not showing promising signs on how to fix it. Nigeria’s debt profile is over N24.3 trillion, it was reported recently that government wants to borrow more.
“Borrowing in itself is not a bad thing, the issue is what do you borrow for. Countries borrow for capital projects, and not to pay salaries, if we cannot bequeath wealth to our children, why burden them with debts.’’
Kaigama said with the rate of inflation standing between 11.28 and 11.44 per cent for goods and services, there was an adverse effect on purchasing power for citizens, calling on the CBN and the federal government to ensure smooth running of the economy.
He also decried the secrecy surrounding crude oil refinery in the country, noting that adequate information should be available to Nigerians on both the internally and externally generated earnings.
He said with revenues generated from the Federal Inland Revenue service, NIPOST, NNPC, NIMASA, and those recovered by the EFCC and the ICPC, the country has no business borrowing.
The Vice Chancellor, Nasarawa State University, Prof. Suleiman Mohammed, while commending the TUC and its affiliates at promoting the rights of workers, urged them to continue in unity and solidarity.
Mohammed, who delivered a lecture with the theme, `Labour and Nation Building, The Place of Labour in National Politics’’, said the role of the organised labour cannot be over flogged with an overall goal to unsettle the ruling class.
According to him, the political and elected leaders in all tiers of government have continued to use the instruments of the state to dis-empower workers, calling for more political consciousness to promote their rights.
While commending labour unions for playing monumental role in nation building, the vice chancellor said they must continue to promote industrial justice and fight for the protection of workers’ interest in all tiers of government.
He also called for the involvement of workers in policy formulation and implementation, calling for strengthened collaboration and unity to promote significant roles in checking and influencing government policies and programmes.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Mr Williams Alo, commended the support of the organised labour in improving lives of Nigerian workers, expressing hope that the new leadership of the union would strengthen the already existing partnership.
Alo pledged the commitment of the federal government to continue to be a dependable ally towards improving the welfare of workers and other Nigerians.
President, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Dr Ayuba Wabba, stressed the need to address the global imbalance where more people live below poverty line in spite of the growing global wealth, saying it was more worrisome in the country.
Wabba said the role of unity of purpose cannot be overemphasised in trade unionism, saying it was only through this that workers’ demands are met.