Rivers State Governor, Chief Ezebunwo Nyesom Wike has declared that Nigerians are no longer happy with the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) because of the infiltration of the congress by political forces.
He stated that the political infiltration of the NLC has made the labour centre ineffective and unable to positively respond on issues that affect less privileged Nigerians.
Wike, who spoke Friday when the President of NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wanna, paid him a courtesy call at Government House, Port Harcourt, said the congress is no longer as strong as it used to be because of the division within its ranks.
The governor said, “Nigerians are not happy with the NLC. With due respect, you people are now politicians. You are no longer as strong as you use to be.
“I remember when Jonathan was President, you wanted to pull heaven down just for the slight removal of petroleum subsidy. Now they have removed everything and nothing has happened.”
He regretted that the NLC has fallen to the level where it calls for strike and it records failure.
Wike said, “You have allowed politicians to penetrate your ranks and you now have two factions. Factionalization is not the best. I urge you to work for the union to be strong as this is in the interest of the nation.”
While pledging his support for the NLC, the governor urged the congress to stand firm and work for the protection of Nigerians and the country’s democracy.
He said, “Look at what is happening in the country today and nobody is talking. Nobody wants to go to jail. If you talk, EFCC will come after you. If you don’t want EFCC to trouble you, defect to the other party.
“There was this ED Finance of the NDDC, who was a member of the PDP. EFCC was after him, when he defected to the other party, they dropped the charges.”
Wike stated that the country should practice true federalism in all areas including the salary structures of the respective states.
The governor said, “If the new salary structure is agreed, if Rivers State can pay, can Ebonyi State pay? There should not be a uniformed condition of service. In Nigeria, you are paid same amount of money in Lagos as in Kogi State. That is why we cannot get it right.”
He assured the NLC that his administration will continue to resolve all welfare challenges facing workers and retirees.
Earlier, the NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba commended the governor for the regular payment of salaries and pensions, saying, “We have interfaced with workers and they said you have been regular in the payment of salaries and pensions.
“The trade unions asked me to express their gratitude particularly on the issue of regular payment of salaries. This certainly, we have to appreciate because we are aware that in some states, they have difficulty in that aspect. In some states, they have even contemplated retrenchment.”
He appealed to the Rivers State Governor to handle the challenges arising from recently retired workers, contributory pensions and the irregular meetings of the Public Service Joint Negotiating Council.