By Victor Ahiuma-Young & Temitope Titilope
BARELY 24 hours to the nation’s golden independence anniversary, organised labour, activists and a cross section of Nigerians, Wednesday in Lagos, said Nigeria had become a continental embarrassment.
At seminar on: Nigeria @ 50: Arise Oh Compatriots, Nigeria Calls Save Me, organised by Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, speakers lamented that since the military defiled and abused the nation constitution by seizing political power in 1966, Nigeria had continued to degenerate into hopelessness.
In their opinion, Nigerians had not been responsible citizens and had failed to challenge leaders to account for their stewardship. They advised that the forthcoming 2011 general elections would be an opportunity to choose the type of leaders they want.
TUC President speaks
President-General of TUC, Comrade Peter Esele, said: “Why we are celebrating Nigeria at 50 is to look at our past and how far we have gone. The coming of military, who swore to defend our Constitution and territorial integrity, into the political system using arms bought for them through the tax payers money to defile and abuse the constitution, was where the problem of the nation started from.
“Since then Nigeria has abandoned civilisa-tion and now create problems for the masses. In other climes you hear about earthquakes, landslide, tsunami and other disasters. But here Nigeria invents its own disaster.
“If we want to move forward from here, the citizens must be responsible citizens. Nigeria is a reflection of what we are from inside. Nigeria is not working because Nigerians are not working.”
On her part, President of Campaign for Democracy, CD, and Women Arise, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, lamented that there was nothing to cheer for in the 50 years of nationhood.
She said: “Nigeria is now a continental embarrassment at 50.”
She wondered what Nigeria should be proud of in the past 50 years where unemployment, crimes, corruption and other negative tendencies had been the hallmark of Nigeria nationhood and also called on the citizens to rise up and take their destinies in their hands.
Others such as Professor Sola Fajana, a a judge of the Nigeria Industrial Court, NIC, Mr. Agbado Festus, Mr. Niran Omojobi of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN, and others, spoke in similar vein.
Minister of Labour promises change
However, Minister of Labour and productivity Chief Chukwuemeka Wogu, assured the nation’s workers of President Goodluck Jonathan’s determination to institute a new kind of leadership that is uncontaminated by the prejudices of the past but committed to change that would ensure decent work in the country.
The Minister, who was represented by the Controller, Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity Lagos, Mrs. Nofisat Abiodun Arogundade, said: “I use this opportunity to assure the nation’s workers of President Jonathan determination to ensure our country is at the threshold of a new era.
“An era that beckons for a new kind of leadership that would ensure decent work for the nation’s workers; a leadership that is uncontaminated by the prejudices of the past; a leadership committed to change; a leadership that reinvents government to solve the everyday problems that confront the average Nigerian.”