petrol subsidy

–Says Prisoners’ live better than workers

Vows take over power from APC, PDP

Era of Collective Bargaining for workers interest over—Jega warns organized labour

As ZLP tells workers to drop ruling, opposition membership cards

By Johnbosco Agbakwuru

AHEAD of the 2023 general elections, the organized Labour yesterday vowed to form an alliance with any pro-workers’ political parties, or organizations in order to rescue the country which it said was sailing dangerously adrift.

The organized labour said it would no longer tolerate anti-people policies; fuel scarcity, unemployment and insecurity, adding that Nigerians are entitled to decent work, good governance and social and economic justice.

It further said that comparatively, the present minimum wage of N30,000 which amounts to a mere N1000 per day for the workers is not anywhere near what is being spent in feeding a prisoner in the country, adding “We are not saying that they are taken good care of the prisoners but we are saying that prisoners are better than workers,” he said.

This is as the former Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega has warned workers that the time of narrowly believing that their interests can only be advanced through collective bargaining while they stay aloof and allow ‘ruffians and crooks occupy and dominate the political and governance spaces through manipulation of the electoral process was over.’

Meantime, the Zenith Labour Party, ZLP, has charged all workers in both formal and informal sectors to stop being card-carrying members of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC and the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, saying the two parties had destroyed the country.

These were some of the positions taken by labour leaders and activists at a Political Roundtable on Sustainable Democracy in Nigeria organized by the Trade Union Congress, TUC of Nigeria, in Abuja, with the theme, “The Role of Organized Labour in Promoting Participatory Democracy and Good Governance in Nigeria: Perspectives on 2023 General Elections.”

Speaking at the conference, President of TUC, Comrade Quadri Olaleye said Nigerian workers have resolved to stop being onlookers while politicians continue to destroy Nigeria’s economy.

According to him, “Today, we are here to discuss, redefine, and strategize on how to rescue the soul of our dear country. Some naysayers have said “what are they going to do differently this time?

“I am of the opinion that we should not react to such, rather it is our action after this conference that would convince them that we are not ready to waste the opportunity in our hands this time around. Comrades, sometimes I feel ashamed blaming the politicians for the looting and mismanagement of the economy.

“I feel that way because it is the lack of active participation of the organised labour in Nigerian politics that is responsible for the pains Nigerians are going through today.

“We have not successfully tapped into the opportunity provided in a liberal democracy which emphasizes grassroots participation and negotiation of interests. Staying aloof would further worsen the situation as there is no dividing line between politics and economy. ‘Our kind of politics is such that a winner takes all.

“Hence, it has become very unsafe to consistently allow politicians to make decisions on issues affecting the socio-economic wellbeing of workers and by extension the Nigerian masses.

“Some have said it is about mobilizing the grassroots and we equally have people at the grassroots that can do that. For me, the problem is not about getting a reasonable number to win elections, nor is it about our spread; it is just about our inability to put our acts together.

“I make bold to say that the emergence of credible leaders with working class background is capable of changing, re-engineering and revamping the economy and guaranteeing a living wage and social justice for the working people.”

Speaking at the conference, the National Chairman of the Zenith Labour Party, Chief Dan Nwanyanwu, argued that it had been the Nigerian workers giving life-support to many politicians in both the APC and the PDP which has been raping them to rape the country.

Nwanyanwu said, “Many of you workers sitting here are card-carrying members of the APC and the PDP. Stop carrying their cards! Stop encouraging them with bad governance!

“Get your voter’s card, registration is ongoing now, go and register if you have not registered! “We cannot continue to shout every day that we will take over the power, the time is now!”

He called for an alliance between the Labour Party and ZLP promising that he would not mind to step down as the national Chairman of ZLP for it to work.

On his part, the former Chairman of INEC, Prof. Jega advised the organized labour to forge unity among the trade unions and labour movements in the country, at the least on the basis of a minimum agenda of mobilizing, educating, enlightening and consciencetizing Nigerian workers to get them to resolve to use the electoral process in the politics leading to 2023 general elections; in particular to motivate and encourage Nigerian workers to register to vote.

He said, “As 2023 general elections are literally around the corner, this, it can be argued, is the most realistic potentially successful option to pursue in the present circumstances.

“Beyond 2023, concerted effort can then be channeled and focused on the creation / strengthening a working peoples party, which must be well established and structured for future more impactful engagement in Nigerian politics. It needs to be recognized that in the present circumstances, workers ignore participation in electoral politics at their own peril.

“Ordinarily, as is well known, unity is strength; and unity is necessary and desirable so as to actualize the objectives and aspiration of getting Nigerian workers and other progressive forces’ active participation in electoral politics to rescue Nigeria and widen and deepen the scope for democratic development and good democratic governance in country.

“The time of narrowly believing that workers interests can only be advanced through collective bargaining is over. The time of “Siddon look”, while ruffians and crooks occupy and dominate the political and governance spaces, through manipulation of the electoral process in our country is over.”

On his part, Chairman of TUC Political Commission, Dr. Ayodele Olorunfemi said Congress at its last meeting resolved not be as onlookers but raise the consciousness of its members on the political development in the country.

He said, “If you are not in charge of political power, you cannot be economically incharge. This is the irony of the GE working class people who create the wealth only for a few political leaders to enjoy.

“Nigerian workers must ensure that those who emerge as leaders are transformational and transactional as it has been. We must resist such transactional leaders.”

He said that workers have long been victims of bad governance in the country, adding that this has to stop because they constitute a sizeable population of the electorate that have the voting power to decide who wins in an election.

Comparatively, the union leader said that the present minimum wage of N30,000 which amounts to a mere N1000 per day for the workers is not anywhere near what is being spent in feeding a prisoner in the country.

“We are not saying that they are taken good care of the prisoners but we are saying that prisoners are better than workers,” he said.

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