Daily Trust (Abuja)

1 May 2002

Nigeria: Mantu Urges Labour Congress to Be Cautious

The Deputy Senate President, Alhaji Ibrahim Mantu, has advised the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to exercise caution on their demand for 25 per cent salary increase, warning that the economy may not be able to absorb another round of salary increase.

Alhaji Mantu, who spoke with newsmen yesterday at the Presidential Wing of the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Lagos, observed that some states still owe backlog of salaries from the old increase.

"If the economy can absorb the situation so be it, I think it is only an irresponsible government that will like to close its eyes to the welfare of its people. Much as we would want to ride cars, but where the economy cannot sustain it, we have some problems," he stated.

On the fate of newly created local government areas across the country, Alhaji Mantu stated that the Senate is not interested in the creation of local governments, stressing that what a state government is entitled to is what it is going to get.

"If you want to go and create 1,000 local governments, create them, you will share what is meant for a state," he added.

Mantu, who noted that Lagos State for example has 20 local governments while Kano has 44, stressed that there should be a yardstick for distributing money among states to ensure equity, saying "the parameters must be fair because it is government money, going to all parts of the country, and we want to make sure that the national cake this time around is fairly distributed." The deputy Senate president disclosed that people crying about being marginalized are only using it as a political weapon, adding:"I am yet to know which section of Nigeria is not talking about marginalisation." He described the decision of President Olusegun Obasanjo to seek a second term as the beauty of democracy.

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