Gov Abdulrazaq meets Kwara labour leaders on fuel subsidy removal

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By Abdulrazaq Adebayo

Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara State on Monday said the recent removal of fuel subsidy by the Federal Government was done in good faith to curb further damage to the economy.

He spoke at a meeting with top labour leaders in the state, in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.

The governor had approved an immediate reduction of workdays for workers in the state to lessen the impact of the subsidy removal on their earnings.

Civil servants will now work for three days in Kwara State, as against the current five days.

Civil service authorities are expected to release further guidance on the measure, including how it affects health workers and teachers.

The governor, in his address to labour leaders, said: “Removal of subsidy is definitely a painful decision that the government had to take in the larger interest of the country.

“It is the cheapest and most sustainable option available to curb the criminal bleeding of resources at the expense of the larger public.”

He declared further: “The subsidy regime means Nigeria is running a deficit budget that continues to hurt economic growth and make people poorer. The country was having to borrow to feed a tiny few while important things like infrastructural development, industrial growth, and job creation received lesser resources.

“Now that subsidy has been removed as there is no provision for it in the budget anymore, the government is open to veritable ideas from the labour unions on how to redirect the savings for maximum public benefit, including a pay rise.

“Mr President and all of us (governors) really acknowledge the short-term pains that come with the development, but we are committed to making sure that the interests of the workers and the Nigerian people are protected.”

The meeting was attended by Kwara State NLC chairman Muritala Saheed Olayinka, State TUC chairman Joseph Tunde Meshach, chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Kwara State chapter, Dr Ola Ahmad and chairman of the National Association of Government General Medical and Dental Practitioners Association (NAGGMDP), Dr Yusuf Amuda.

Others included the vice chairman of the National Union of Printing, Publishing, and Paper Products Workers (NUPPPPROW), Mrs Medinat Jimoh, and representatives of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), among others.

They were led to the meeting by the Head of Service, Mrs Susan Modupe Oluwole.

NLC chairman Saheed Olayinka said the call for such a meeting showed good leadership on the part of the governor.

“As said by you, we know there is a little misunderstanding between the leadership of the NLC and the representatives of the federal government. We have discussed it holistically within ourselves at the state level that when a negotiation is ongoing, it doesn’t call for a strike or demonstration,” he said.

TUC chairman Meshach, who noted that engagement and dialogue are the best options to resolve the issues, appealed to the government to be sincere as they go about the discussion of a new minimum wage for workers and palliatives for the poor masses.

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