By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA – ACTING Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Mag, yesterday said that Nigerian workers are the greatest victim of the mismanagement of the nation’s resources.
This is as the lead director of Centre for Social Justice,CSJ, Eze Onyekpere has lamented that the fragmentation of labour centers in the country was not in the interest of the workers.
The EFCC Acting Chairman in his goodwill message to the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and its Trade Union Congress, TUC, counterpart said that the May Day offers workers the opportunity to look at their fortunes that had taken a dip in the current economic recession.
The message read, “On the Occasion of the 2017 Workers Day celebration, it is my pleasure to felicitate with Nigerian workers all over the country. I have always said that workers are the unsung heroes of our country.
“The relative comfort that we enjoy as a nation is as a result of the sweat and toil of the Nigerian worker. This occasion therefore offers us the opportunity to acknowledge the contributions of workers and also look at their fortunes which have taken a dip in this season of economic recession.
“ In recent times, it is no longer news that workers are owed salaries. Workers in some states of the Federation can’t even remember the last time they collected their salaries at the end of the month. And this in spite of the bailout packages paid to some of the states by the Federal Government.
“The pathetic state of the Nigerian worker is a paradox in a nation that is abundantly blessed in material resources. Without any doubt, the Nigerian worker is the greatest victim of the mismanagement of the nation’s wealth. Part of that mismanagement is driven by corruption.
“What should have been used to bring better life to Nigerians including workers is stolen by a few people that found themselves in positions of leadership. The stealing of our common patrimony must not be allowed to continue.
“For Nigerian workers to be assured of better life, things must change. And part of that change is that the fight against corruption must be accorded more pride of place with workers themselves taking more active roles in this important campaign.
“Most of the corrupt activities that go on in ministries, departments and agencies are not without the knowledge of workers. So, the onus is on workers themselves to resolve to put a stop to this looting by becoming active whistle blowers.
“This will help instill more discipline in the use of public resources and ultimately guarantee a better future for us and our children.”
Also in his goodwill message, the Lead Director of Centre for Social Justice, Eze Onyekpere urged workers to fight hard for the increment of their minimum wage so as to meet up with economic challenges.
In the message, Eze said, “Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) felicitates with Nigerian workers on the occasion of the 2017 Workers Day. CSJ believes that this is an occasion for sober reflection, re-assessment of strategies by workers; governmental re-dedication to the rights of workers, increased productivity and growth of the economy.
“We recall the protection of the rights of workers and the working class to an adequate standard of living as indicated in the standard setting Universal Declaration of Human Rights [(article 25 (1)], the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights [article 11 (1)] and a plethora of other international, regional and national standards.
We further recall the aphorism that a worker is entitled to the fruits of his or her labour.
“CSJ notes with regret that the minimum wage in Nigeria cannot under any reasonable criteria suffice to give workers anything near an adequate standard of living. It amounts to less than $50 for a whole month’s pay.
“It may not even qualify as a slave wage. It is dehumanizing, a misery wage and an affirmation of the gross inequality in the Nigerian governance system. It not only discriminates against workers, especially the lowly paid ones, but subjects them to inhuman and degrading treatment.
“The division of the labour centres through fragmentation of the labour congress is not in the interest of the working class. This division reduces the strength of organized labour which is in strong need of re-unification, speaking with one voice and focusing on the larger issues of governance.
“It is also imperative for labour to reclaim its position of pride as the leading force in presenting alternative view points for the economic governance of the nation. This should include strong viewpoints on fiscal, monetary, trade, industrial and labour policies.
“CSJ therefore calls on organized labour to campaign vigorously for an increase to the minimum wage to such a level that will guarantee an adequate standard of living; reunify the labour movement; reclaim its position in economic governance through evidence led analysis and alternative viewpoints.
“This may involve the setting up of think tanks. This inter alia is the minimum expectation of the working people in Nigeria.”