Nigerian workers commemorate May Day

Helen Shok Jok and Martha Obi, Abuja

L-R: President of Trade Union Congress, Comrade Bobboi Kaigama; minister of FCT, Alhaji Mohammed Bello; minister of labour and employment, Sen. Chris Ngige and president of Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, during the 2016 May Day celebration in Abuja

Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari says the fight against corruption will be unsuccessful without the cooperation of Civil Servants.

President Buhari stated this in Abuja on Sunday in a massage to Nigerian workers as they commemorate May Day.

The President identified the working class as the main engine  for any socio-economic revival saying that their roles in  the development of any nation cannot be overemphasized.

“The need to ensure a conducive atmosphere devoid of incessant industrial actions becomes paramount to ensure no loss of man-days and accordingly promote high productivity which is perquisite for sustainable development based on increased investments, creation of jobs as well as protection of jobs.” President Buhari said.

The two umbrella labour organs –the Nigeria Labour Congress NLC and the Trade Union Congress TUC urged governments at all levels to urgently articulate ways and strategies to turn around for the benefit of the people, the socio-economic fortunes of the country.

Addressing the gathering, NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, said, “the situation of our country in the socio-economic sphere before the last general election in March 2015 had been bedevilled by insecurity as a result of boko haram insurgency, an economy in ruins as a result of years of maladministration  and corruption, at Federal and State levels; drastic fall in the price of crude oil in the international market, coupled with continuing fall in the value of our national currency; a festering social crises symbolized by a huge un-employment crises and inability of a number of state governments to pay salaries and pensions, among other challenges”.

Wabba alluded all of these to what he called the maladministration of past governments in the country, but quickly noted that Nigerians had voted the current All progressives Congress government under President Muhammadu Buhari believing that his experience would help to bring the positive change in their lives as promised in the Party’s campaign “change” slogan.

He noted that though the government has made giant strides in the security front, it should combine the military success with a marshal plan for the reconstruction of the “devastated” infrastructure in the country especially in the North-east geo- political zone.

“This May 2016, marked the 1st anniversary of the coming into office of the current administration. What has been the score card of the government in addressing the mirage of problems it met on assuming the reign of governance? What has happened in the areas of national security, in the fight against corruption, in the efforts to revive the economy and provide jobs to Nigerians, to cite a few concrete areas in the last twelve months?

“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 for these evil forces to be defeated. Nigerians no doubt, now believe that the turn-around in the struggle against this deadly force is as a result of the leadership President Buhari had provided in this direction.

 “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,”  Wabba said.

Speaking on the state of the nation’s economy, President of TUC Bobboi Kaigama stressed that the country needs massive infrastructural transformation to revive the economy, “unfortunately the massive theft of our oil, the scandalous incidence of money laundering, over-invoicing and double-invoicing of contracts, dumping of foreign goods, budget alterations, and politics of acrimony, etc. tend to frustrate that prospect,” he said.

He cautioned that these activities must be curtailed immediately if the country must move forward. In his words, “we charge the government’s economic team to do a better job of guiding the direction of the economy, to this end; we must reintroduce the concept of having periodic national development plans.

“There is need to chart long, medium and short-term goals, as is done in developed countries”.

The Presidents of the NLC and TUC also touched on other issues like the fight against corruption, the whereabouts of the Chibok school girls, the National Minimum Wage, unpaid pensions and double pay of public officials among others. There were goodwill messages from different organisations, agencies and the international community.

MayDay MarchThe team of this year’s Workers’ day is “The Working Class and the Quest for Socio-economic Revival.”