WorldStage Newsonline-- The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria has described the forced holiday given to National Assembly workers recently in preparation for the planned presentation of the 2014 budget by President Goodluck Jonathan to a joint session of the National Assembly as unnecessary and counter-productive, saying by asking the workers to stay at home is an example of executive impunity.
TUC in a statement said, “We are particularly disturbed by the fact that no official reason was given for the stay-at-home order, even though media reports suggest that the order was meant to ensure a hitch-free presentation. We read that the order may not be unconnected with fears of the Presidency over alleged threats by some workers to use the occasion as an opportunity to create a scene over welfare issues.
“As an organisation interested in protecting and promoting workers’ welfare, we feel that such fears and the resultant order would not arise if governments at all levels are committed, upright, and honest in their dealings. Indeed the government and all other employers of labour, whether public or private, should endeavour to always do the right thing. With this in mind, the Congress urges the Staff Welfare Committee – established by the Clerk of the National Assembly, Salisu Maikasua, and chaired by the Director of Procurement and Supplies, Mr. O. O. Adelami – to collate staff welfare issues with a view to making appropriate recommendations to the Assembly’s management for necessary action.
“We are informed that the Director of Personnel Management of the National Assembly, Dr. Ishaya Habu Sarki, in a statement on behalf of the Clerk to the National Assembly, issued the order and warned that any worker who flouts the order would be made to face “strict disciplinary action.” This cannot happen in saner environments. Or could such an outlandish order ever emanate from the management of the United States Congress?
“It is unfortunate that the President is yet to present the 2014 national budget less than 50 days to the end of the year, whereas most state governors have presented those of their respective states. And the Presidency should spare us its recent lame excuse that it is waiting for the two chambers of the Assembly to have a harmonized oil price benchmark before the budget is presented. Each chamber is entitled to its position, and their respective benchmarks have never been and must never be a determinant of the timing for presentation of the national budget. Not even the rumoured plan by some opposition members of the House of Representatives to boo the President suffices as tenable excuse for the delay in presentation of the budget. What if the “plan” subsists forever? Shall we then wait forever?
“It is a globally acknowledged fact that good budgeting and early presentation of budgets is serious business that makes for better fiscal and socio-economic planning and should not be subject to delay on the basis of frivolities. Nigerians want early presentation of the budget. All we are saying, “GIVE US BUDGET!”