Workers’ Day: Buhari vows to secure lives, property

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Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) members march during the 2018 May Day celebration in Abuja on Tuesday (1/5/18). 02274/1/5/2018/Albert Otu/JMH/BJO/NAN

President Muhammadu Buhari has described security as a big challenge to the country and promised that his administration was poised to curb the threat.

He made the assurance in his Workers’ Day address in Abuja where he was represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

He recalled the numerous stock-taking done by the Security Council aimed at reviving the nation’s security architecture to meet the “challenges of the mindless killings in some parts of the country, including the threats of marauding herdsmen, cattle rustlers and bandits.

“It is our duty to secure the rights of farmers, and all citizens and to ensure that herders also can rear their cattle, especially as were proposed in well-resourced ranches.’’

The President observed that there were criminals trying to stoke religious and ethnic crisis and divide the country using all manner of excuses including the recent attacks.

He wondered what explanation could justify going to the church to kill priests and worshippers.

“We recognise that while the protection of lives and property is a primary responsibility of the government, it is incumbent on us as citizens to share in this responsibility.

“It is at the end of the day a collective responsibility. This country belongs to us all.’’

Buhari remarked that the country “is great because of the talents of our people from every tribe, tongue and religion. Our diversities are our strength.

He urged Nigerians to reject every attempt to divide us, saying “our focus must be on developing our economy, providing opportunities in industry, in manufacturing, in technology for our young people.’’

The president said that the administration also had no choice but to improve the business environment to make it possible for small and medium scale businesses to work.

According to him, the administration is committed to ensuring the reduction of interest rates so that businesses can have access to cheap credit.

The President also stressed the need to encourage young people in technology, innovation and the entertainment industry through an advisory body to mainstream the incentives available to the rest of industry to the new businesses.

Buhari hailed labour for its pre-independence and political struggles in the country as well as its commitment to regular tax payments and promised to stand by the organisation in its laudable programmes.

On workers welfare, he reiterated that his administration had assisted states with more than N1.91 trillion to defray workers’ salary arrears, adding that it also remained resolute in the increase of workers’ salaries.

“While we do recognize that the payment of salaries and pensions is essential, we are also conscious of the fact that the increasing cost of living and the recognition to ensure a fair and decent living wage have rendered the minimum wage instrument which is currently in force obsolete.

“Although there are arguments regarding fixing minimum wage in a federation such as ours.

“It is the responsibility of government to establish the necessary social protection for all Nigerian workers based on the ability of each tier of government to pay.

“We believe that those who can pay above the social protection floor are free to do so as many have been doing in many states and sectors of the economy,’’ the President added.