Increasing officeholders’ salaries will increase political violence ― Labour

• Warns of dire consequences 

Labour has warned against any attempt to increase salaries of political office holders; saying that it will be a conspiracy against the poverty-ridden people of Nigeria to again contemplate pay rise for politicians in the face of widespread poverty in the land.

The Trade Union Congress (TUC) declared on Tuesday that pay rise for politicians will increase political violence and poverty; warning that it must not be allowed to stand because of its dire consequences.

“We read with consternation the plan by the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission to review the remuneration of political office holders at a time the local and foreign debt is overwhelming and the country grappling with a lot of economic issues. This is a conspiracy that must not be allowed to stand because of the dire consequences it will further have on the economy, people and our collective image,” the TUC said in a statement signed by its President, Comrade Quadri Olaleye and the Secretary-General, Comrade Musa-Lawal Ozigi.

The congress queried the Federal Government if it had deliberately increased the Value Added Tax (VAT) to raise money to pay the politicians, adding that Nigeria should take a queue from some African countries who now have a unicameral legislature because their former system was eating deep into the national treasury.

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“Why can’t we think along that line, after all, we have a National Assembly that you could hardly see all the members seated at every session. It is the same thing at the state level, yet their absence has never disturbed any session. Imagine a Councilors with O’Level result earns higher than University Professors? It is only in Nigeria that ex-governors who served two terms will retire to the senate yet earn a pension from the state. It is only in Nigeria that ex-governors that are jailed for corruption collect salaries and other allowances. This is preposterous and it makes a mockery of our system,” it added.

The statement read: “Report had it that if the Federal Government succeeds in borrowing the $29. 9b is applied for our total debt profile would have risen to about $84b. Even the World Bank has warned about the danger and consequences of our debt yet it appears no one cares if the country goes further down in shame. The question is, why tax or borrow just to pay politicians and service cronies when over 21 per cent of our able-bodied youths are unemployed? We are worried that the insecurity situation arising from unemployment does not bother them?”

The congress demanded that the cost of governance be drastically reduced, stating, “we do not need 496 lawmakers. Governors do not need over 500 aides. It is too expensive to maintain. The salaries and allowances of these public office holders in Nigeria is part of the cause of the economic hardship in Nigeria. Half of these political officials’ salaries, if put into proper use, could give hundred thousands of unemployed youths useful employment.”

The statement read further: “To this effect, if Nigeria will move forward then there is a serious need for imminent restructuring of the political system. For us, the leadership belittles the country before the international community when they nurse such ideas now. It is a bizarre thing to do and we condemn it in strong terms. We enjoin the authorities to drop the idea to restrain the do-or-die attitude of some politicians.”

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