…emphasizes togetherness regardless
Benjamin Babine, Abuja
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has congratulated Nigerian workers, the Nigerian people on the occasion of the country’s 60th Independence Anniversary while drumming the need for honest reflection on the challenges the country is facing.
In a statement signed by the President of the NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, NLC said that at 60 years it is said that political leaders still send their children abroad when the education system is in shambles. The union also blasted politicians who fly abroad for medical attention when the health system is in the country is failing.
The statement read in part: “The role of Organized Labour in defying the British imperial rule especially through the June 22, 1945 General Strike and Labour’s demand for the respect of the rights of Nigerian workers and people to decent work, just wages and actualization of self-government was a defining moment in Nigeria’s history. Organized Labour has continued to play the role of a vanguard pan Nigerian institution standing as a check to neo-liberal and anti-people policies of successive governments.
“Sixty years in the life of a working person is usually the age of retirement from active service. One of the major demands on retirement age is reflective introspection and honest appraisals of one’s life – the highs, the lows, the goals, the misses, the successes, and the failures. If one is able to dispassionately and truthfully examine one’s life, there should be lessons learnt that would inform behavioral adjustments for the rest of one’s life and as a lesson for younger persons and future generations. This is the point where Nigeria is at sixty. There is no more evading of critical national questions. Now, is the time to face them squarely.
“Nigeria is doubtlessly a country amazingly blessed and richly endowed by God. There is virtually no mineral resource that is lacking in Nigeria even if it occurs in trace quantities. Beyond the mineral and natural resources that abound in the country is the great diversity of human resource that populate Nigeria. Nigeria is made up of 250 ethnic groups. Within these ethnic groups are 371 tribal groups and among these tribal groups more than 500 languages and dialects are spoken.
“Nigeria is one of the few countries in the world that has such a rich diversity of ethnic groups per square kilometer. This is the very reason Nigeria has been described as an extremely ethnically diverse multinational state. As the most populous black country on the planet, Nigeria’s true wealth lies in her people and not in silver and gold. We believe that it is the celebration of the rich diversity of the Nigerian people that informed the theme of this year’s Independence Anniversary – Together. Being together after sixty years of independence despite being through very tumultuous moments in our national life including experiencing a very bloody civil war is certainly something to celebrate. But being ‘together’ must have a stronger value than mere physical co-existence and enforced tolerance of ourselves.
“At sixty years, we must confer a bigger value to our being together. Our togetherness amounts to nothing if we are not tapping from the wealth of knowledge, experience and cultural diversity of the Nigerian people. Our being together amounts to nothing if the rich intellectual resource of our people is not applied to solving key developmental issues. Our togetherness might as well be a liability if we fail to use the political process to achieve national consensus on the Nigeria of our dream, how to construct our dream country and recruitment of an enabling leadership that can midwife our collective developmental aspirations.
“It is a spite on our togetherness, a big disservice to our natural endowments and a huge slap on the resourcefulness of our people if after sixty years Nigeria is still importing toothpick, pencils, and needles from abroad. We make a huge mockery of the biggest assemblage of black people on the planet if at sixty years we are unable to refine our own crude oil. Indeed, Nigeria is the only OPEC country suffering from this self-inflicted malaise. It is unimaginable that with the abundance of water sources, vast windy terrains, coal and large deposits of natural gas, Nigeria struggles to generate and distribute up to 5000 megawatts of electricity, a sum insufficient to power some airports abroad.
“It is sad that at sixty years, our political leaders still prefer to send their children to schools abroad and treat themselves in foreign hospitals since our public schools and hospitals have been so terribly mismanaged. Truly, the message Nigerians especially workers get when our political leaders say that we are together is that we are together to the extent of baking the national cake. When it comes to eating from the cake, Nigerian workers and people are shut out in the cold and rain while those who had forced their way to positions of political leadership corner the collective wealth for themselves and their families alone.”