The Niger State chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, has rejected a move by the state government to borrow funds from the Ministry for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs for the conduct of local government council election fixed for November 10, 2022.
The affiliate unions of the NLC at their recent deliberations and resolutions on the council poll in Minna, dated 21st oct 2022, condemned the decision of the government to borrow funds to conduct local government elections.
The state NLC in a two-page letter addressed to the state Governor, Alh. Abubakar Sani Bello, through the Secretary to the State Government, SSG, and the State House of Assembly, challenged the decision.
It described the government as inhuman and a financial recklessness to coerce local government chairmen to consent to a bank facility to fund local government polls.
According to NLC, “We are shocked and disappointed by the proposed loan by the state government to borrow from the Ministry for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs to conduct local government elections, knowing the financial predicament in the 25 local government areas was as a result of the previous reckless borrowing.”
The members of the affiliate union gave the government eight-point demand before the local government elections can be conducted.
They demanded the immediate payment of arrears of the percentage of salaries to workers in the local governments for the month of June, August, September, October, November, December, 2021 and that of January, February 2022.
It also asked for the immediate payment of four months salary arrears of the newly-recruited teachers in the state, payment of October 2020 pension arrears and retirees across the 25 local government areas.
Others include the immediate payment of annual leave grants to desirable civil servants in the state and local government areas and should also remit deductions from civil servants salaries in favour of the National Housing Scheme (NHS) and CPS.
The union further called on the government to prioritize the enumerated demands in the interest of industrial harmony else the organized labour will have no option than to down tools.
Recall the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, had earlier filed a lawsuit at the Federal High Court sitting in Minna challenging the conduct of the LG polls.
The party alleged the violation of the provisions of the constitution and the electoral act.
Similarly, the National Electoral Commission, INEC, has directed the resident electoral commissioner in the state not to release ballot boxes to the Niger State Electoral Commission, NSIEC, for the conduct of the grassroots poll.
This was contained in a letter signed by the Secretary of the Commission, Rosa Oniaran Anthony, dated October 28, 2022 in respect of the ballot boxes.
According to the letter, “Be informed that the request by Niger State Electoral Commission is not approved. You are directed not to release the commission’s facility beyond the voters register in view of our heightened preparations.”
Though the Federal High Court sitting in Minna had directed the Niger State Government to suspend the local government Election, it was learnt the state may proceed with the affirmation of the local government consensus Chairmanship candidates of the ruling party.
This was contained in a letter from the state electoral body insisting on the conduct Council poll on November 10, 2022 across the 25 LGs of the state.