Nigeria Labour Congress President Ayuba Wabba is angry with the nation’s political elite for allegedly acting irresponsibly and squandering the nation’s wealth.
Citing the non-payment of workers’ salaries in many states, Wabba said workers have undeservedly been reduced to beggars by government.
He spoke yesterday at a pre-May Day lecture in Abuja.
“We are told that the wealth of the world has more than tripled and yet, the welfare of the worker is nothing to write home about. From country to country, our interest has continued to be undermined,” he said.
“Let us not forget that throughout history, no employers of labour will willingly try to address the issues of decent pay for workers. It is through our collective struggle that we have been able to achieve what we have achieved.
“Therefore, let us not be under any illusion that any government across the world will continue to give workers their entitlement without struggle.
“This is the basis for commemorating the May Day which is to look at our collective struggle what we have been able to achieve and what obstacles still remain before us. If we understand this perspective, it will sharpen our response and unity because in unity lies our strength.”
Lamenting the plight of Nigerian workers, Wabba said: “In a situation where a worker has not been paid for between four and 13 months, what do you expect from them?
“To keep soul and body together, they have now resorted to begging. It is one of the worst situations we are passing through and therefore, we must continue to situate this argument within the context that our political elite have not been very responsible.”
He did not agree with those blaming Nigeria’s problems on inadequate resources to drive the economy.
He said:”The problem of Nigeria is not about resources. There are many countries around the world that don’t have natural resources. Japan is one of them and we have seen how they have been able to transform their economy. But despite our numerous resources, our political elite have proven clearly that they are not interested in the welfare of our people.
“The primary purpose of government anywhere in the world is the welfare and wellbeing of the people including their security. In all of this today, the totality of where we are is that we have failed and our leaders have failed to discharge their responsibility to the citizens of this country.”
He charged labour leaders and all progressive forces to “continue to lead and provide quality options that we must force government to implement”.
The NLC President said further that the congress has presented a formal demand for a new minimum wage to the government in conformity with laws and practice.
He said “The law provides that after a circle of five years, the minimum wage must be reviewed because lot of issues must have taken place in the economy and very clearly, we know that a lot of things have happened.”