The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has delivered a four-hour ultimatum to Inspector-General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, urging the immediate withdrawal of police personnel from the National Secretariat of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) situated in Abuja.
This demand came in the wake of the National Administrative Council (NAC) emergency meeting where the NLC issued a communique expressing concerns over the takeover of the NURTW’s secretariat by certain individuals, allegedly with the backing of security operatives.
The NLC’s communique also urged President Bola Tinubu to promptly address the situation and clear his name, as it is being linked to the individuals who forcefully seized the NURTW’s secretariat. The invasion, which transpired on Monday, involved a group from Lagos, Osun, and Ondo states under the guise of the Park Management Committee. The assault on the NURTW officials, including its President Alhaji Tajudeen Ibikunle Baruwa, took place in the presence of armed policemen and operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS).
The NLC cautioned that the illicit takeover could lead to a national shutdown due to its undemocratic nature and the potential ramifications.
NLC Threatens Civil Service NHF Withdrawal, Criticizes FMBN Management
In addition to the NURTW issue, the NLC has raised concerns over the National Housing Fund (NHF) and threatened to withdraw civil servants from it. This stance arises from the difficulties faced by workers in accessing the mortgage scheme, despite consistent monthly contributions to the fund. The NLC accused the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) of mismanaging the funds contributed by workers.
During an investigative hearing organized by a House of Representatives ad hoc committee, NLC President Joe Ajaero highlighted the issues surrounding the NHF. The NHF Act mandates employers in both the public and private sectors to contribute 2.5 percent of their employees’ monthly earnings to the fund. Ajaero indicated that the government deducts this percentage from workers’ salaries, but the FMBN often fails to inform workers about the remittances to their NHF accounts.
Administrative bottlenecks in accessing the mortgage scheme, according to Ajaero, have created opportunities for corruption in the system. He noted that despite an increase in the NHF’s total pool, workers continue to struggle to obtain loans for housing. Delays in loan approvals prompt workers to resort to third-party agencies at unofficial fees, casting a shadow of corruption over the loan approval and disbursement process.
Ajaero also emphasized that while the NHF Act allows for a 90-day period from application to disbursement, many workers experience prolonged delays, forcing some to abandon their pursuit of the loan entirely.
The NLC’s dual concerns underscore the organization’s commitment to safeguarding workers’ rights, promoting transparency in financial systems, and ensuring equitable access to resources.