By VICTOR AHIUMA-YOUNG & KINGSLEY OMONOBI

As Nigerian workers join the rest of the world to mark the May Day today, labour leaders in the country, yesterday, said insecurity, poverty and unemployment had been the greatest challenges that confronted the Nigerian worker in the last one year.

 

This came as fear of insecurity may mar workers’ rally in Abuja, with
union leaders saying members have not recovered from the shock of
Nyanya Motor Park terror attack that claimed over 100 lives and
injured over 250 others.

Among the labour leaders that spoke with Vanguard were General
Secretary of National Union of Civil Engineering Construction,
Furniture and Wood Workers, NUCECFWW, Mr. Babatunde Liadi; President of the National Union of Food Beverage and Tobacco Employees, NUFBITE, Mr. Lateef Oyelekan; President-General of Maritime Workers of Nigeria, MWUN, Mr. Anthony Nted; President of Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, Igwe Achese, and General Secretary of the National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, Mr. Joe Ajaero.

Liadi said: “We have been adversely affected by the insecurity and
rising job losses. In fact, the issue of insecurity is really serious.
“You cannot find any meaningful construction work going on in the
North-East of the country.

Every other industry is affected. The government appears not be focused because of this insecurity problem.

On the whole, we have lost about 40,000 members in the last one year.
Nted said: “The major problems we have faced in last one year have
been insecurity and rising unemployment and poverty in the country. We are no longer talking of armed robbery, oil theft and pipeline
vandals; we are faced with insurgent attacks.”

Similarly, Oyelekan said that “the socio-economic situation in the
country is very tough. The inflation rate is on the increase and the
purchasing power of the workers has been eroded.”

President of NUPENG said: “In recent times, NUPENG has been vehement
against outsourcing and casualisation and shall remain unshaken,
undaunted as we will never give up, until outsourcing and
casualisation of workers in the oil and gas industry is reduced to the
barest minimum.”

For Ajaero, “as we mark this year’s workers day, it will be
instructive to note that the Federal Government’s privatisation policy
is aimed at destroying jobs, impoverishing many Nigeria families
through consumer exploitation and profit maximisation by the new
captains in the industry.”

IG assures of security
Meanwhile, the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar,
yesterday, assured workers of adequate security during today’s May Day
rally.

The IG, in a statement by the Force Public Relations Officer, Frank
Mba, insisted that police would leave no stone unturned in ensuring
the safety and security of Nigerian workers during May Day rallies.
However, some labour leaders said the recent bomb blast in Abuja could
mar the May Day rally.

Liadi said: “What happened in Nyanya is still fresh in our minds.
These insurgents are looking for attention and they always target
crowds.”

For NUFBTE President, “our members have been calling to know whether
or not we will go to Abuja for the May Day Rally, because everybody is
afraid.”

Politicians hail workers
In the mean time, former Vice President and chieftain of All
Progressives Congress, APC, Atiku Abubakar, in a statement released by
his media office in Abuja, has extolled the patriotism, unbroken faith
in Nigeria and sacrifices of the Nigerian workers in the face of tough
times.

In a statement in Lagos, yesterday, by its Interim National Publicity
Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, APC said the past year had been
particularly challenging for workers due to worsening state of social
infrastructure, especially the dwindling power supply which has
affected production and forced many companies to downsize or relocate
to neighbouring countries.

Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.