Labour Says Nigerians Losing Faith In Change Mantra, Regrets Buhari’s Absence At May Day Rally
BEVERLY HILLS, May 02, (THEWILL) – As the organised Labour celebrates this year's Workers' Day, they have observed that Nigerians are gradually losing faith in the Change mantra promoted by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari as they are yet to experience the much-hyped Change agenda of this government.
Addressing the gathering of workers at Eagle Square in Abuja, President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba called on Buhari to provide people-based actions and programmes and not elitist programmes.
He urged the government to discourage all companies destroying collective bargaining platforms in order to encourage decent workplaces and enhanced terms and conditions of service for Nigerian workers.
Wabba further enjoined the president to initiate a deliberate policy to build domestic industrial capacity, not just by stimulating private sector investments, but also by investing in medium and large scale industries in critical sectors of the economy.
He equally urged him to set up a special task force to stop all the violence and bloodletting spreading like wild fire all over the country.
On insecurity, the labour leader said: “At the beginning of the year, we had cause to assert that on the security front, our armed forces within the year, redeemed their reputation as a resilient fighting force and fought the Boko Haram insurgents, inflicting heavy defeats on them in the North Eastern part of the country.
“We said that our conviction was that though the war was still on-going, Nigerians now believed that it was only a matter of time before these evil forces are defeated.
“As workers, who have been direct victims of the violence in the North East, we want to use this May Day to restate our call for Mr. President to combine the military success with a marshal plan for the reconstruction of the devastated infrastructure of the geo-political zone.
“The ruling APC government in its manifesto, promised to create three million jobs annually. We have waited one year for the government to bring out its blueprints on how it intends to go about achieving this. Congress will seek audience with Mr. President to get more information on this important matter.”
Meanwhile, the congress has expressed displeasure at the absence of the President’s at the annual event which would have afforded him the opportunity to address some of the issues raised by the workers.
Buhari, who was represented by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige at the rally on Sunday, did not mention the issue of minimum wage which had been proposed by the organised labour to be increased to N56,000.
In an address read on his behalf by the Labour and Employment Minister, the President called on the workers to collaborate with the government in the fight against corruption in the public service.
He said, “In this fight against corruption, I need you all to be very willing partners. Fighting corruption in the public service in particular requires the workers to play major roles by cooperating with the government.”
The National President of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees, Alhaji Ibrahim Khaleel, who doubles as the National Treasurer of the NLC, pointed out that for failing to attend the rally, the President missed the opportunity to hear directly from the workers.
Noting that the President's absence was the reason the new minimum wage proposal was not mentioned, Khaleel said: “That is one of the bad feelings we have as workers representatives on May Day. We believe that it was as a result of the absence of Mr. President.
“There is no way the President of the country would grace an occasion and salient issues like that would be raised, without Mr. President at least responding to them.”
The labour chief stressed that while the organised labour did not have the exact reason for the government's refusal to comment on the issues, labour had always achieved welfare demands for its members through sustained struggle.
“We cannot say sincerely or talk about the reasons behind the government side not to say anything about it. But we believe that nothing, absolutely nothing, comes to the working class in the history of struggle free of charge, so we are determined and we are ready to pursue our agenda because we believe in our cause,” he stated.