By AUSTIN OWOICHO, Abuja
The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has assured labour unions in the country that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration is committed to the implementation of an improved National Minimum Wage for Nigerian workers.
Oshiomhole spoke while receiving a delegation of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) led by its President, Comrade Bobboi Bala Kaigama. The President of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba also accompanied the TUC delegation on a solidarity visit to the APC National Chairman at the Party’s National Secretariat on Friday.
Other members of the TUC delegation included: Olusoji Salako (1st Deputy President), F.O. Johnson (3rd Deputy President), Oyinkan Olasanoye (Women Commisioner), Quadri Olaleye (National Treasurer), Musa Lawal (Secretary-General) and Salihu Anka (Asst. Secretary-General).
Oshiomhole: “The trade union movement and the working class represent part of the constituency that President Buhari believes in. That is why on occasions like this, I can safely assure the TUC and NLC that if you hear any voice within the APC family talking in a way as to suggest that President Buhari’s government will superintend over abolition of the National Minimum Wage, that will be the individual’s wishful thinking. President Muhammadu Buhari will not dismantle any of the gains that the working class has achieved over the years.
“One of which is the idea of a National Minimum Wage to provide a social club below which no Nigerian workers should be engaged. I think there is no better evidence of this than the fact that even at a time many people were calling for the abolition of the National Minimum Wage, President Buhari decided to set up a panel to review upward the existing National Minimum Wage. As they say, action speaks louder than words.”
The APC National Chairman expressed his resolve to use his position to influence government policies in a way that will benefit the Nigerian worker. Oshiomhole also said President Buhari remained committed to worker’s welfare, the fight against corruption and the unity of the country, despite resistance from a section of the political elite.
Oshiomhole: “My understanding of the Nigerian condition is deepened by the fact that I had the opportunity as a factory worker and an industrial union leader and later as President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC). I am very proud when people acknowledge that what qualifies me for the present position is the rich trade union background where I was able to manage a pan-Nigeria institution and mobilise the people for a good course without recourse to ethnic, religious and primordial sentiments.
“That is the challenge of the political class today because many are still afflicted by these primordial sentiments. I am very proud of those values that I had to imbibe as a union leader. I know the struggles that we waged together.
“I also want to thank you for the leadership you are providing for the labour movement at this time. These are very challenging times. I also know that sometimes, government positions are misunderstood or portrayed differently by some government functionaries. As an insider and now a key player in the governing Party, I am very clear that my responsibility is to influence policies in a way that will benefit the Nigerian worker. There is no sitting on the fence because government is the management of sets of biases. Whatever you call it, government and governance is value driven.
“I am happy to be the APC Chairman, particularly under President Muhammadu Buhari. Even though he is not a former union person, those who are familiar with his policies, know that his source of strength is the ordinary people, the masses, the poorest of the poor. If he has strong opponents, it is among the establishment, a section of the political elite who do not agree with his rigid commitment to anti-corruption.
“President Buhari and the APC government believe in the unity of the Nigerian worker. At a time when a good section of the political class has become ethnic champions, religious bigots and divisive tendencies, President Buhari believes we need pan-Nigerian institutions; people who organise, mobilise and affiliate above all these primordial sentiments, which the labour movement represents.
“You can count on this government that nothing will be done to undermine the unity of Nigerian workers. I will be your in-house agent to ensure that governance and government instrument are used for the good of the greatest number of our people in the shortest possible time.”
Oshiomhole, a bridge-builder – TUC President
Speaking earlier, the TUC President, Comrade Bobboi Bala Kaigama assured the APC National Chairman of TUC’s support and cooperation. Kaigama described Oshiomhole as a bridge-builder.
Kaigama: “We are from your primary constituency and as a movement, when one of us is opportune to be elevated to a position of what we call national service, we need to really congratulate you, identify with you, solidarise with you and to show you that the Labour movement is one, indivisible. The movement is solidly behind you. We do know that you have been elected to your current position based on the fact that you have an organisational background and that organisational background is the trade union background where we organise and mobilise for the betterment of the nation.
“And if one of us can be given the opportunity of being the national chairman of a governing party, it shows that we have a bridge-builder in government. We now have a voice unlike before. We now have a bridge were if there are one or two constraints, we have an easy ride through it so that we serve our nation better.
“May the God that brought you this far continue to protect you. I am sure that as an ambassador of the labour movement, you will continue to perform your role and duty as we know it in the Trade Union Congress and by extension, the Nigeria Labour Congress, we say a big congratulation. We strongly believe that the sky is the beginning of your success story.”