BY FUNMI KOMOLAFE, VICTOR AHIUMA-YOUNG, OLASUNKANMI AKANI, EMMANUEL ELEBEKE & JOSEPH ERUNKE
PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, at the National May Day rally, in Abuja, said Nigeria is not poor, but suffering from the distribution of wealth, as the main challenge facing the country.
This came as organised labour berated Nigerian politicians and political leaders for playing politics with the state of insecurity in the country, with Governors Babatunde Fashola, Adams Oshiomhole and Ibikunle Amosun of Lagos, Edo and Ogun states calling for concerted efforts to tackle the insecurity scourge irrespective of political or religious affiliations.
Jonathan was reacting to the recent World Bank’s report that ranked Nigeria the fifth poorest country in the world at Eagle Square, venue of 2014 workers’ May Day festivities.
President Jonathan said he was amazed when he visited Kenya on an official trip, only to discover that most of the private jets which flew into that country were from Nigeria.
He said: “They say Nigeria is poor, but I was surprised when the World Bank listed us among the poorest nations in the world. Nigeria is not poor, it only has the problem of unequal distribution of wealth.”
President Goodluck Jonathan used the May Day celebration to reiterate his administration’s determination to bring the Boko-Haram insurgency to an end, vowing that the abducted secondary school girls in Chibok, Borno State must be found and rescued.
He also restated his earlier submission that the perpetrators of the Nyanya Bus Terminal bombing in the Federal Capital would be fished out and punished in accordance with the law.
He assured that government was continuously fine-tuning its security strategies to curb insurgency which, he said, perpetrators must never be allowed to succeed in their evil intention.
He, therefore, called for the cooperation of citizens to beat back the threat posed by the Islamic sect to the nation.
He said: “The recent atrocities by terrorists, particularly the Nyanya Motor park bombing of mainly working class citizens, as well as the cruel abduction of some innocent girls, our future mothers and leaders in a very horrific and despicable situation in Borno State, is quite regrettable.
“The government is constantly reviewing and upgrading mechanisms to curb this mindless act and together, with the cooperation of the citizenry, we shall triumph.
“Those who want to re-define our country to be seen as a country of chaos will never succeed. We will continue to work hard to ensure the security of our people.
Speaking on the state of insecurity, Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and its Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, counterpart, argued that, “it is immoral to play politics with the lives of people,” insisting that the ruling class should realise that Nigeria was at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred and demanded an end to the unholy dirty politics over the insecurity in the country.”
Governor Oshiomhole while urging workers to stand and speak for Nigeria in the face of insurgency and ethnic champions, said: “We should be united in the fight against Boko Haram. We should be united against terrorism, because we need a peaceful state for us to do politics.”
Governor Babatunde Fashola suggested: “I think first of all we should agree to fight the scourge of insecurity under one flag, the Green-White-Green Flag.
“Let everyone for now subsume his flag in whatever colour and let us rally together, not as Yoruba, as Ijaw, not as Igbo, not as Hausa, but as Nigerians, who rally under one flag, the Green-White-Green to defeat insecurity.”
Governor Amosun of Ogun State said: “I, therefore, appeal to you all to always take out time to pray for Nigeria and the over 200 students kidnapped in Chibok in Borno State.
“We pray for God’s intervention in securing the release of the students and stemming the tide of violent crimes against humanity in Nigeria.”
The two labour centres while addressing workers and other guests, with theme, ‘Building Enduring Peace and Unity: Panacea for Sustainable National Development,’ insisted that, “we must all rise in unison, shoulder-to-shoulder and confront this common enemy once and for all. We are almost certain that if anyone was left in doubt about the universality of this war, the Nyanya bomb blast erased all of that.”
Both NLC and TUC also commented on the, economy, unemployment, poverty National Conference and alleged moves “some vested interests among the governors are mobilizing some delegates to force through the balkanisation of labour and the negation of a national minimum wage as currently enshrined in the constitution. It is certainly the machination of a few privilege few in position of powers at the expense of the teeming Nigerians. This is an attempt to keep Nigerians in perpetual slavery and servitude.”
They called on “Nigerian workers and the teeming well-meaning Nigerians to rise up against these retrogressive moves.”
According to NLC President, Mr. Abdulwaheed “In the past few years, the nation has witnessed unprecedented security challenges that have tasked our imagination, resources and temperament. From the Niger Delta to the northern-most parts of the country, we have had one form of violent conflict or another that threatened the peace and security of the nation.
One of the most trying of these has been the kidnapping of over 200 teenage girls at Chibok, Borno state. As Nigerians await the release of some of them still being held by the terrorists, our hearts bleed and we pray for their safety and release.
“Beside the human and material cost of this “war” is another cost, the psychological cost. Every time a bomb goes off or the sound of a gun rends the air, something in us dies
“We do not need any one to tell us that we have a serious situation on our hands. The war on terror does not seem to be going on well at the moment. Our security forces despite gallant efforts have suffered reversals, taking direct hits in their critical asset areas, raising concerns about their capacity or willingness to win this war. We are not unaware of the complexities of a war of this nature, but we demand better initiative and more commitment.
“In spite of government’s effort, the situation, particularly in the North East, is deteriorating. The initial gains of emergency rule, clearly have been lost and the momentum squandered. The Boko Haram elements have matured into a full-blown terror group striking at high-profile targets with devastating effect. Indeed, the choice of targets, regularity of strikes, weapons used, co-ordination and sophistication of their operations make them not only the leading terror group but the group to dread.
We feel seriously concerned about the state of the nation’s security infrastructure. In spite of the relative huge security votes in the past few years, it is weak and inadequate. We also believe conflicting political interests, ambiguous operational order and primordial sentiments are some of the factors undermining the counter terror war.”
On his part, the TUP President, Bobboi Bala Kaigama, stressed that all Nigerians irrespective political and religious beliefs “in view of the comatose nature of our socio-economic infrastructure, the near-breakdown of security and the recent spate of killings and destruction of property in the North-East and some other parts of the country.
The fact that we are in the midst of crisis is by no longer disputable. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred.
Our economy is threatened by incidents of violence and terrorism due to unalloyed greed and irresponsibility on the part of many of our successive leaders and our collective failure to nurture our hard-earned democracy and prepare the nation for a new progressive age.”
In Lagos, the occasion was almost marred by protesting members of the civil society groups led by the Joint Action Front, JAF, who were protesting the increase in the tuition fees of the Lagos State University, LASU.