By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
As the proposed bill to remove the national minimum wage from the Exclusive List of the presidency to a concurrent list, has sparked protest, with threats that any National Assembly Member of Akwa Ibom origin who supports the bill will be recalled.
The State Chapter of NIgerian Labour Congress (NLC) issued the threat in Uyo on Wednesday as the labour unions in the state joined the nationwide protests rejecting the controversial bill.
The implication of the controversial bill is that if it scales through the red carpet of the National Assembly, each states governor will negotiate with the labour on how much respective state can pay as minimum wage to its workers.
Speaking, the State Chairman, Comrade Sunny James, during NLC protest said the minimum wage must not be taken away from the exclusive list to concurrent list.
James noted that the bill lacks “locus standi” to be displayed at the floor of the House, stressing that the matter should be thrown to the “trash bin” to avoid friction.
He advised the National Assembly to promote bills that focus on ending insecurity bedeviling the country, adding that they should make a law to ensure that anyone being arrested with AK-47 should rot in jail.
“We are happy because we didn’t see any of our legislators supporting the bill. If we see any, such person would be recalled from the National Assembly.
“Instead of making a law to say we (NLC) won’t have food to eat, National Assembly should make law against insecurity that anybody caught with AK-47 should go to life imprisonment.
“What do you mean by deregulation when you don’t have refinaries? that means, buy anywhere and sell anywhere, and any how.
“The labour is saying build new refinaries everywhere in this country so that let us refine our petroleum products and sell it within ourselves. That is the only way the market forces can go against each other.
Receiving the protesters at Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, The Clerk of the House, Mrs Mandu Umoren assured NLC that their demands would be communicated appropriately to the Speaker who was away on national assignment.
Umoren emphasized that the issue of minimum wage can not be tinkered by the Assembly or the State Government since the administration was operating workers friendly environment.
“Akwa Ibom was one of the very first states to implement the minimum wage and I want to believe that government would not go back as pressurised by Garba Datti of the National Assembly.
“The Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly and other Houses of Assembly are in Abuja to protest the non-implementation of financial autonomy.
“This present 7th Assembly is workers friendly, I know they would do anything to harm. In that case, I want to assure NLC and TUC in Akwa Ibom State that I have received your letter and I will advise him on what to do. And at the end, the speaker will take it to the Governor because he has the his ears and they will resolve it amicably for the interest of the workers in the state.
“On behalf of the Speaker, I want to thank the NLC and TUC, and I want to believe that before resorting to strike all peaceful negotiations will be handled. And I believe before resorting to strike this matter would be be resolved amicably.
When monitored the protest, the protesters were seen carrying placards with various inscriptions that read, “Fuel scarcity, fix our refinery now, “remove corruption and inefficiency in refinery”, “leave national minimum wage on exclusive list,” among others.