The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has criticized the administration of President Bola Tinubu for its proposed N8,000 monthly cash palliative intended for 12 million Nigerian families over a span of six months. The NLC argues that this move is an attempt to rob the poor in order to benefit the wealthy.
Last week, Tinubu wrote a letter to the National Assembly seeking approval for an $800 million loan to be distributed among 12 million households, providing each with N8,000 as a means to cushion the impact of fuel subsidy removal.
In response to the proposed palliative, NLC President Comrade Joe Ajaero issued a press release on Tuesday, stating that the Federal Government is already employing dictatorial tactics to impoverish Nigerians.
Ajaero further expressed that the FG did not consider the plight of Nigerian workers before making this decision on the palliative. He emphasized their commitment to the principles of the Rule of Law and democracy but criticized the government’s actions, which have led to significant hardship for the people.
The NLC strongly condemned the Tinubu-led administration’s decision to seek approval from the National Assembly for an additional N500 billion loan from the World Bank. This loan is intended to fund a questionable palliative measure aimed at offsetting the consequences of the ill-conceived fuel price hike.
Ajaero highlighted the disproportionate allocation of funds, with N8,000 being proposed for each of the so-called 12 million poorest households while National Assembly members would receive N70 billion and the Judiciary N36 billion. He described this allocation as insensitive, reckless, and a diversion of public resources into the pockets of public officials who are entrusted with safeguarding the nation’s treasury.
The NLC argued that the proposal demonstrates a government seeking to exploit the very poor Nigerians while enriching the already wealthy. They found the proposal to pay a meager N8,000 to each household insulting and viewed the allocation to the National Assembly and Judiciary as an attempt to bribe and silence these arms of government.
The NLC deemed these proposals unacceptable, dictatorial, and undemocratic, lacking the outcomes that would have been generated through social dialogue with critical stakeholders. They expected the government, considering the circumstances of its emergence, to adhere to democratic principles to build legitimacy.
Furthermore, the NLC expressed skepticism about the data used to identify the 12 million poorest households and the mechanisms for distributing the cash transfers. They criticized the lack of transparency and demanded the public release of the register used for identification.
Despite their readiness to commence work in the committees, the NLC stated that the government is yet to inaugurate the National Steering Committee, thereby stalling progress. They expressed concerns that the government is prioritizing borrowing and self-allocation instead of allowing the committees to function effectively.
The NLC asserted that if the government continues its current actions under the guise of palliatives, they will reassess their engagement and take matters into their own hands to protect the interests of the people.