2011 Election: Moment To Reinvent Nigeria – NLC

Source: EWACHE AJEFU, ABUJA BUREAU CHIEF - thewillnigeria.com

ABUJA, Oct 1, (THEWILL) - The National Executive Council (NEC) of the Nigeria Labour Congress has called on Nigerian workers to keep hope alive and not despair as the forthcoming general elections in 2011 will be a deciding moment to re-invent the country for greater heights.

In an Independence message to workers and indeed Nigerians, President of the NLC, Comrade Abdulwaheed Omar said while it is generally agreed, both within and outside the country, that the past 50 years of our existence have been marked by irresponsible and profligate leadership, Nigerians should not agonize about wasted opportunities and prospects.

"Rather we wish to place emphasis on the fact that all hope is not lost if we use this moment correctly to evaluate our potentials and take decisive steps which nations seen today as great have treaded to become what they are", Omar said.

He said though the state of the nation and the condition of the populace is anything but golden, Labour however wishes to acknowledge with great sense of responsibility the sacrifices and services of workers under very stressful and unstable political, economic and social conditions all these years.

"We are very confident that such conscious and deliberate plans could position us as a major player in the political economy of the world in the next fifty years. We believe that we are in the threshold of one of such historical moments – a moment to institute a sound democratic process; a process that is credible and committed to putting in power a leadership that derives its power from popular votes exercised in a free and fair election", he said.

"It is our conviction that we as a people have the capacity to use the 2011 general elections to begin the journey to rediscover or reinvent Nigeria as a nation that would be the pride of not just Nigerians but of the entire Black race. By 2014, when we will be celebrating the centenary of the amalgamation, it should be clear to everyone that Nigeria has found its rhythm", Omar emphasized.

"We urge all participants to engage in the process of elections with a vibrantly matured spirit of nationalism, which makes electioneering so enchanting and festive in advanced democracies. We therefore wish to urge our politicians to desist from the use of thugs to cause mayhem. We also wish to caution government not to use key state institutions, particularly the state security agencies to intimidate others in the contest for power. These agencies must function in the defence and interest of all, including the electorate, rather than in the suppression of the rights of the people", he advised.

NLC said apart from a conscious effort to deepen the credibility of the electoral process, "we must all be determined to uphold and collectively fight for a society based on the core principles of social justice where might and impunity have no place. Congress believes that Nigeria possesses the wealth that could under ideal conditions guarantee every citizen a minimum standard of existence".

It urged government to urgently put in motion the processes of fast tracking the implementation of the new minimum wage so as to avoid the crisis that is bound to follow any delayed tactics adding that Nigerian workers are finding it increasingly difficult to sustain themselves and their families with their current emoluments.

He said that the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress is under intense pressure from affiliates to ensure the immediate implementation of a new national minimum wage in line with the negotiated agreements by the tripartite committee chaired by Justice Alfa Belgore, the former Chief Justice of Nigeria.

It said in order to enhance active involvement of citizens in government, there must be unimpeded access to information and urge Nigerians and particularly the media, to make the Freedom of Information Bill (FOI) a critical issue in the ongoing electioneering campaign for those aspiring for leadership come in 2011.