06 October 2013, Sweetcrude, Lagos – NIGERIA Labour Congress, NLC, has expressed shock over government’s failure to check high level of crude oil theft because of the involvement of the high and the mighty, saying the unacceptable levels of crude oil theft have virtually left the economy prostrate.
NLC lamented that 53 years after independence, the vision of Nigeria’s founding of a productive economy, socio-economic justice, peaceful co-existence which every Nigerian should be proud of, has almost disappeared into thin air.
In a statement to mark the country’s independence anniversary, NLC President and Acting General Secretary, Comrade Abdulwaheed Omar and Chris Uyot, however congratulated Nigerian workers for their patience and patriotism in the face of gross deprivation and poverty in the midst of so much wealth.
“Fifty three years after, Congress notes with concern that while little has changed, some of the changes have been traumatic indeed. Sectarian-cum communal crises across the country have led to unacceptable blood-letting as well as caused massive displacements with potential for food shortages and disunity. Congress appreciates the challenges our security agencies are facing in the course of maintaining the peace during these moments, but condemns in strong terms the incessant and protracted senseless killings of helpless and innocent Nigerians.”
“Congress observes with shock that government’s promises of checking this ugly trend has not yielded the desired result because of the involvement of the high and the mighty Unacceptable levels of crude oil theft have virtually left the economy prostrate. The turbulence in the education sector is worrisome as it has literally ground to a halt all activities. Our students have been at home for three months. In due course, other unions including Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions, NASU, Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU, Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, and the Polytechnic Unions are expected to resume or join the strike action except government addresses the issues of agreement, unpaid salaries and other fundamental problems.”
The NLC noted that “one of the gains of independence was the prescription of a national minimum wage and the placing of labour issues on the Exclusive list. It is worrisome that against every grain of wisdom, the Senate has proposed its removal from the Exclusive List. The consequences of this singular action will create unfathomable turmoil as well as a pool of the working poor. Government rather than adopt a pragmatic approach to solving problems, especially Labour issues, seems to be more comfortable with a resort to legalism. While we are not opposed to the judicial process as a mechanism of conflict resolution, its abuse renders the outcome vain. The recent threat by the Presidency to emasculate Labour through reviewing labour laws in the face of strike actions, is not only ill-advised, but will be met with resistance by workers and the Labour movement.”
“In spite of figures justifying economic growth, unemployment rates have more than quadrupled in recent years making not a few to conclude that the country has never had it so bad. Congress demands that economic growth must come with jobs. Congress also frowns at government agencies milking applicants by way of asking them to buy scratch cards or pay needless sums at banks knowing full well that they will not offer jobs to these hapless applicants. All application process should be free and unencumbered. Congress believes time has come for the state to re-examine the total surrender of the economy to neo-liberalism as this has not yielded the desired results. It has instead created massive unemployment, bloody conflicts, unprecedented crime waves and other unpleasant consequences. The private sector which is expected to drive the process of economic development/growth is weak, choosy, rabidly profit-oriented and cannot guarantee shared prosperity among Nigerians.”
Despite perceived pains of independence, NLC said it “believes all hope is not lost as in the long run, we are the masters of our fate. We must rise with a collective resolve to do right those things we have been doing wrong as a people. We must get our priorities right and be committed to the cause of the people and not our selfish motives. We must believe in our country and in our capacities to excel. We must hold our leaders accountable for their acts of commission or omission. We must fight corruption in every facet of our national life with common accord.”
“We must hold free and fair elections, making our votes count. We must not only say no to impunity but fight impunity with all our strength. Justice should be accessible to all including the poor and the weak at no extra cost. We must resolve to live together as a common entity in spite of our diversity. Congress has an unshakeable faith in the country, Nigeria, and will do everything within its resolve to preserve it.”