BY VICTOR AHIUMA-YOUNG
LAGOS—AHEAD of 2011 elections, Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, yesterday, vowed to mobilise against politicians whose programmes negated the basic interests of workers and the populace, especially on available and affordable petroleum products and electricity tariff, employment, protection of local industries, welfare and general well-being of the people.
This came as the Congress announced that it had developed an Alternative Development Plan, ADP, for the country which would form the basis of its relations with government at all levels, as well as employers in the country and solicited the support of the media.
In an opening address at NLC – Editors’ Interactive Forum, President of NLC, Comrade Abdulwaheed Omar, warned Nigerian leaders to stop taking Nigerians for a ride, arguing that the revolts and mass protests spreading across North Africa were largely fueled by rising prices, unemployment and poverty and called on the nation’s leaders to urgently address these challenges to spare Nigeria similar revolt.
According to him: “Apart from the need to urgently and comprehensively address the job issue, Congress position is that the business of government must include the provision of housing, water, and education for all Nigerian children to the Senior Secondary School grade.
Also, electricity should be available, reliable and affordable. Politicians who support these basic programmes, will be supported by the Labour Movement, conversely, the Labour Movement and the Nigerian people have the duty to oppose and campaign against politicians who do not accept this minimum programme. The cost of running government should be cut as regards the jumbo pay of legislators and wastage in government.
The high cost of government like the Central Bank governor has revealed, is not the stipends paid to keep workers alive or the number of employees in the public service, but the highly disproportionate amount that goes into servicing the voracious appetite of the legislature, political office holders and other government appointees, and of course, the endemic corruption in the system.
Comrade Omar added that “the campaign of “One man, One Vote; One Woman, One Vote” should not just be a slogan, but a creed; it should not be a campaign but a movement. We must develop a culture where electoral crimes will be punished rather than its perpetrators rewarded by being allowed to re-contest as was done in recent re-run elections.”
In his remarks, President of Nigerian Guild of Editors, NGE, Mr. Gbenga Adefaye, called on Nigerians who desire credible and fair election to go and participate in the ongoing voters’ registration, saying it was the most important assignment for every Nigerian presently and “if you do not register, that means you are not a citizen of Nigeria.”
Commending the interactive meeting with labour leaders and NLC plans to engage politicians on issue-based campaigns among others, the President of NGE said the meeting would not have come at a better time, because political campaigns by politicians for so long had been devoid of issues that would better the lots of Nigerians.
According to him, the Guild and the Nigerian Media would not hesitate to partner with NLC if it decided to put issues-based politics on the front burner for political discourse.