By Angela Atabo
For failing to pay workers salaries and allowances, President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr Ayuba Wabba, has urged workers to get their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) to vote out perpetrators of bad government in their states.
A statement signed by Ms Freda Ukpoju, Media Officer, Say No Campaign, a Civil Society Organisation (CSO), on Tuesday quoted Wabba as making the call at the group’s “DoroCorruption programme’’ held in Abuja.
Wabba decried the ordeal of workers in the hands of state governments, insisting that the Nigerian government treat workers like slaves.
“It is time the workers used their numbers to push back; I encourage members to get their PVCs to vote out every defaulting state governor.
“State governments owing salaries were given bailouts and different Federal Government interventions, including the Paris club funds meant to offset their debts to state workers.
“While some have met their responsibilities and paid off, chronic debtors like Benue and Kogi states remain adamant in fulfilling their responsibilities and clearing their debts.
“The challenge is not lack of resources but sheer unwillingness and misplaced priorities. ‘’
Wabba said that the reality of the matter was that the problem had never been about resources, saying “In most of those states, their priority is not to pay salaries but white elephant projects.’’
He said that before this current administration came in, Plateau owed seven months salaries but through ingenuity, the governor utilised all the money given to him to settle everybody.
He said that many states had utilised their money, but some states, about twelve of them, including Benue and Kogi had failed.
He, however, said that the governors should be held accountable because democracy was about the people.
He said that if as governors, they were not able to address the fundamental constitutional issue of security and welfare of the people then the people also must be able to hold them accountable.
“Workers and pensioners must unite to use their PVC to chase these type of people out of government; if workers, in unity, demand it and also use their power of franchise to vote them out of office,’’ he said.
Also speaking, the co-convener, Say No Campaign, Mr Ezenwa Nwagwu, encouraged citizens to join unions or associations and actively participate in ensuring that their collective interests were championed.
Nwagwu said that where members noticed that leadership had been compromised or failed to promote their interest, there should be no hesitation in voting such leaders out.
He said that the demand for accountability should begin at the communities, adding that only when citizens were able to hold their leaders accountable, would they have the courage to hold government accountable.
He advised Nigerians not to be divided along ethnic or religious sentiments in their demand for accountability because citizens needed to develop the culture of giving ultimatums to government and demand urgent response to their plights.
He condemned state governors owing workers and insisted that they were inflicting the worst kind of terror on their people by attacking their means of survival.