Nigerian Workers’ Charter of Demands: The Dividends of Democracy NLC, TUC Want FG Provide For Citizens

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In collaboration, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC ) and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) recently came up with set of demands they want the Federal government to implement.

According to the two labour centres, the demands will also serve as a fundamental issues on which Nigerian workers should concern themselves.

Christened Nigerian Workers’ Charter of Demands, the demands preambles; “This Charter of Demands aims to ventilate the issues of fundamental concerns to Nigerian workers in order to mobilize trade unions to organize around them and to defend the economic, education, health, safety and political rights of the Nigerian working people and the vast majority of the citizenry.

“To this end, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) shall forge partnerships with the Trade Union Congress (TUC), progressive trade associations, professional groups and civil society organisations to campaign for the implementation of the Charter of Demands.

“To the Government of Nigeria, Congress assures that through best endeavor Labour will partner with the Government in achieving the Demands.

“To this Effect: The Nigeria Labour Congress presents this Charter of demands to the Government of Nigeria, all persons in authority and managers of public institutions for implementation.”

First on its list is Education, and it so demanded: “Every Nigerian child should enjoy. Guaranteed free, compulsory and qualitative basic education of nine years without discrimination for all children of school age. Access to qualitative and well-rounded senior secondary and tertiary education.

“Charter Demands: Cost-free, qualitative and compulsory education at primary and secondary schools’ level, should be provided for every citizen as a birth-right by both the Federal and State Governments. The State should have full responsibility for funding education in public institutions. The cost-free education policy should cover school uniform at primary and secondary levels, tuition, books, and meals during school hours.

“Massive investment in the overhauling of public education facilities all over Nigeria including classrooms and hostels complete with equipping with basic Information Communication Technology (ICT) and Recreational facilities that promote the mental, moral and physical development of students.

“Prioritization of quality remuneration and conditions of service for both the teaching and non-teaching staff of public institutions. As an immediate step towards realizing education as a right, the Education Bank Act, which provides that the bank shall make funds available for indigent students to finance their education should be implemented immediately.

“Funding for education should be constitutionally pegged at a reasonable and significant fraction of the annual budget by the Federal and State governments. The development of a talent hunt program that identifies gifted children and puts them on a special innovation track complete with exposure to local and foreign education cum industry knowledge that fast tracks human resource development for the beneficiation and growth of local manufacturing.

“The guarantee of safe school environment devoid of violent, pervasive and abusive tendencies which are detrimental to the attainment of educational outcomes and the equipping of the Nigerian child for meaningful contribution to society and national development. Identified violent, pervasive and abusive tendencies include but not limited to cultism, drug abuse, school prostitution, sex-for-grades, bullying, examination malpractices, and financial crimes.

“To foster functional education, we demand that educational text books and teaching should be provided in indigenous languages in addition to English.

“We demand a functional link between ‘Gown’ and ‘Town’ where results from research efforts in our educational and research institutions are provided for adoption by local businesses, industries and manufacturing concerns especially in a manner that creates sustainable partnership and funding for further research and innovation by Nigeria’s educational institutions. To this end, we demand synergy and coordination of research efforts in Nigeria on the basis of a deliberate identification of priority development goals that aligns with available local knowledge and resources for successful pursuit and attainment; and

“Legislation that prohibits public officials including civil servants from sending their children to foreign schools while occupying or serving in public office.”

The demands on Healthcare, so said; “Guarantee of quality and affordable healthcare as a fundamental right of every Nigerian and a core justiciable responsibility of the State. Provisions to be made for the attainment of Universal Health Coverage for every Nigerian citizen.

“Charter Demands: Increased budgetary allocation at all tiers of government in Nigeria in line with the 2001 African Union (AU) Abuja Declaration on Health. Cost-free comprehensive health care services should be available to citizens under the age of 18 years, pregnant women, the aged and disabled through a contributory universal health coverage as a right, on demand, or at the point of need, without discrimination by socio-economic status.

“The state should take responsibility for providing cost-free health care in public health institutions and under mobile health care arrangements for those who cannot access public hospitals without assistance. Citizens should have the right to enjoy the best attainable state of physical and mental health.

“We demand reform of the National Health Insurance Scheme in a way that expands coverage to all Nigerians especially children, the aged, retirees, the unemployed, Nigerians in the informal economy, and the disabled; improves oversight by the NHIS over Health Management Organizations (HMOs) so as to improve service delivery; and prohibit the use of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) for any purpose except that of improving health services. The contribution of government to NHIS should be made compulsory.

“Legislative prohibition of public officers accessing health care in foreign countries. Such Legislative restrictions and prohibitions should apply to all public officers, elected or appointed, from using public resources to access health care in foreign countries. Only this kind of legislation can compel and/or motivate those in position of authority to overhaul the country’s health care system.

“We demand mandatory contributory national health insurance scheme for all workers in public and private sectors. The poorest of the poor, vulnerable citizens and informal workers should be captured under community-based health insurance with a minimal flat premium. This will help expand universal health insurance coverage in Nigeria from a dismal 4.2% coverage and 74.4% Out of Pocket Expense on healthcare, the worst in Africa.”

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