Nigerian workers celebrate May Day on Friday with a resolve to confront the challenges facing the nation in the incoming civilian administration
| By Anayo Ezugwu | May 11, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT |
WORKERS in Nigeria join the world in commemorating this years’ workers day celebration on Friday, May 1. The workers who are currently factionalised had two parallel assembly in both Lagos and in Abuja.
A faction of the workers led by Ayuba Wabba, its president in Abuja, said that labour was well positioned to confront challenges that may be unfolding as Nigeria moves to another phase of its democratic experience. Wabba with his group of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, called on workers to use the day to reflect on the plight of workers in Nigeria and resolve to hold leaders accountable.
He said this year’s celebration will be special in view of the great expectation of workers and Nigerians from their leaders.
Wabba said the month of May 2015 will be a month that will be remembered by Nigerians and workers for a very long time. For Nigerians, it is a month, when the country, will for the first time, witness a democratic transition from one party to another party and for workers and organised labour it’s a special May Day.
“This year’s May Day will be a day when we celebrate. People say there is no reason to celebrate but there is a reason for us to celebrate because we are alive, it’s a point enough for us to celebrate. Beyond that, we are also kicking very hard we are very relevant as far as Nigerian issues are concerned. So I think that with what we are doing today and what we will do tomorrow, Nigerians will see that the NLC/TUC is well positioned to confront challenges that would be unfolding.”
In Lagos, hundreds of workers gathered at the Onikan stadium, with Babatunde Fashola, governor of the state for the celebration. The Governor, in his address, warned that except Nigerians unite with a sincerity of purpose to fight the current insecurity, the challenges would continue to grow until the nation would be overwhelmed by them. He noted that the country cannot find a way out of the current security challenges by infighting or seeking to benefit from the situation, adding that infighting would only give the enemies of the country more power while seeking to benefit from a state of insecurity would only lead to collective destruction in the end.
In Yobe State, labour and trade unions in the state converged on the office of the Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, along Gashua Road in Damaturu the state capital, to address members on some of its activities over the years. Briefing the media, Lawan Ibrahim, state chairman of the NLC, said the occasion has been low-key for the past four years in the state because of the prevailing cases of insurgency bedevilling the north east zone of the country where the state is located.
He, however, called on the union members to partner with the NLC to fight for members’ entitlements such as leave grant, annual increment, and promotion of staff among others. Ibrahim decried the falling standard of the State Civil Service examinations and called for waiver of the exercise, saying it has not served the desired objective. He also requested for the full implementation of the N18,000 minimum wage, payment of the outstanding gratuity by 33 percent as approved by the federal government in August 2010 among others. The union leader also called for the upward review of 22 percent for the media and cultural workers as well as meeting the lingering demand of the judiciary staff union of Nigeria.
In Ogun State, Governor Ibikunle Amosun assured residents and people of the state of purposeful leadership hinged on transparency, accountability and probity in his mission to rebuild the socioeconomic development of the state in his second term in office. He made the pledge in Abeokuta, the state capital while joining the state workforce in celebrating May Day at the Moshood Abiola stadium.
While assuring the workforce of better days ahead, the governor challenged that all hands must be on deck, saying that workers must redouble their effort to ensure prompt service delivery. Workers from the 20 local government areas of the state, trade unions and labour congresses participated in the celebration.
Meanwhile, Muhammadu Buhari, President-elect, has extolled the sacrifices of the Nigerian working class in the face of economic tough times in their everyday struggle to survive. In his May Day message to Nigerian workers, Buhari said he was fully aware of the hardships of the Nigerian working class, which he said, was compounded by poor governance and large-scale pervasive corruption in the country.
According to him, the Nigerian working class are among the worst hit social groups on account of poor living standards, a situation, he said was inconsistent with Nigeria’s vast oil wealth. Buhari expressed dismay at the paradox of Nigeria’s oil wealth, characterised by rising poverty while a few corrupt officials are making themselves very rich at the expense of people’s wealth.
The President-elect also regretted the fact that honest labour had been relegated to the background. He reassured the Nigerian workers that his incoming administration would be fully committed to boosting the morale of the Nigerian workers in order to increase productivity and their income. He, however, appealed to the Nigerian workers to cooperate fully with his incoming administration to tackle the monster of corruption, which he said, was the greatest enemy of development.