The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Thursday expressed solidarity with the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) and expressed support for the union in its plan to stop the National Assembly from passing the Ports & Harbours Bill. NLC President, Ayuba Wabba described the sponsors of the bill as “economic saboteurs who are solely driven by greed”.
It would be recalled that MWUN had recently protested against the bill saying it would lead to massive job loss at the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).
The bill, which seeks to repeal the NPA Act of 1995, has been passed by the Senate and is awaiting concurrent passage by the House of Representatives.
Wabba, who bared his mind on the contentious bill when he visited the maritime workers union’s secretariat in Lagos on Tuesday, said, “We have heard about some of the current challenges that this sector is going through. What is driving that process is actually greed.
“The management of our port is about our national security. If you take away the responsibility of NPA and put it into private hands now that we have seen arms and ammunition being imported into the country on daily basis, it means we are putting the lives of Nigerians and our security on the line.
“I therefore urge government to actually look at this scenario because a lot of other countries also want to undermine our security, national and economic interest.
“Therefore this bill will aggravate that particular problem. This particular bill is not out for the welfare of Nigerians and workers. Because of this, the bill is not desirable.”
Wabba said the union will engage the National Assembly to enable lawmakers “see reasons to kill the bill”.
The NLC President also took a swipe at the federal government for neglecting the port access roads
He said, “The maritime sector is the economic nerve of any country. Every business has something to do in the maritime industry either directly or indirectly you must have something to do in the ports.
“And therefore for the state of our roads leading to the port to be in such state is an aberration and I want to use this medium to call on the federal government to, as a matter of urgency, fix the road because this is the nerve centre of economic activities.
“There must be a prompt consideration to the roads leading to our port and priority given to what is important.”
Wabba however commended MWUN for maintaining peace at the port despite the challenges faced by members of the union.
“I know what the situation used to be especially within the period of 1998 up to 2000 in our ports and particularly what the situation of the union is all about. But since Irabor, Nted and now Adeyanju came into the leadership of the union; peace, stability and progress have actually returned to the union and this I think should be commended and I acknowledge it,” he said.
Earlier, President General, MWUN, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, while expressing appreciation for the visit of the NLC President, said he was confident that with the support of the NLC, the bill will never see the light of day.
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