By Michael Oche
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has said that as Nigeria celebrates its 62nd Independence anniversary, the dreams of the heroes of the struggle for liberation from colonial rule, particularly workers whose sweat and blood provided us a basis for a dream of a great Nigeria, shall not die.
NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba in his independence day message to Nigerian workers said it is not out of place for many Nigerians to wonder why we would be celebrating another Independence of our great country in the midst of very serious developmental challenges such as hyper-inflation, heightened insecurity, and the reverberations of the rhymes of disunity especially as we approach a general election in 2023.
“The truth is that however dark the night is, the day will surely break. Organized Labour has no doubt that Nigeria’s daybreak is just ahead of us. We say so because the dream of a great Nigeria which is beating heavily on our chest will never die,” he said.
According to him, there is no demography that has passionately carried forward the dreams of a great Nigeria than the workforce.
Wabba said the working people of Nigeria have refused to give up on their dreams for a better and greater country, saying this is the reason most of our talented and dedicated workers have refused to leave the country despite the allures of better pay and living conditions abroad.
He said, “It is this bright dream that has kept many of our health workers in Nigeria despite the fact that their counterparts earn a fortune, but they have decided to stay here and continue serving their fellow compatriots.
“Many of our lecturers and other university workers whose services are highly sought after outside the shores of our country have remained here despite several disappointments from the system because the Nigerian dream still beats in their hearts. The same goes for our primary and secondary school teachers, our pilots, our farmers, our traders, our artisans, our engineers, our surveyors, our lawyers, our civil servants, our armed services personnel.
“We can say the same for our resilient youth who have refused to join the outbound caravan in search of greener pastures. Instead of leaving, our young people have taken seriously the dream of a greater country. This is the reason they have dared fear in this season of political contestation. They are asking the right questions. They are making effective demands. They have taken their own destiny.
“They said they are not giving or accepting “shishii”. They say they are marching the path trod by our heroes past who delivered the Independence we are celebrating today. Nigerian youths have led the way in showing us that the politics that will deliver the Nigeria of our dream is the type that must transcend religious and ethnic bias.”
Furthermore, the NLC President said the dream of workers is a Nigeria that works for everyone.
He said, “The Nigeria of our dream is a Nigeria where university students will not stay at home for seven months simply because elected public officials prefer to send their kids abroad and forget the kids of workers and the poor at home. The Nigeria of our dreams is a Nigeria where government will not allow citizens on board its own train services to be killed, maimed, kidnapped, and brutalized in the bush nearly seven months now and government appears helpless.
“The Nigeria of our dreams is a country where infrastructure works — where there is adequate electricity to power the potentials of our youths and working people of our country — where public schools and public hospitals are mostly free, affordable, and efficient.
“The Nigeria of our dream is where workers are paid living wages and earn decent minimum wages without having to negotiate endlessly with government and subsequently when eventually negotiated fight state Governors for months on end for the minimum wage to hit workers’ bank accounts. The Nigeria of our dream is a country where government takes its role as the moral compass of society seriously and so do not threaten workers with “no work… no pay” and still expect workers to abdicate their right to “no pay… no work”.
“The Nigeria of our dream is a country where our pensioners are paid their entitlements as and at when due without needing to be subjected to the humiliation of queuing up hours on end. Our dream country is workers are paid their gratuity immediately they disengage from public service and are not made to wait endlessly by self serving elected public officials who award underserving pension and other eye-watering severance packages which are usually delivered upfront even before they leave public office.
“The Nigeria our heart yearns for is a country where Production Economy replaces Consumption Economy — where our factories and agricultural plantations are revitalized and where our young people can find gainful jobs. It is a country where public refineries work and where mass importation of refined petroleum products with all the severe socio-economic dislocations is made a thing of the past.
“Our dream Nigeria shows the way by using continental and global instruments such as African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and Sustainabie Development Goals (SDGs} to inspire other African countries that an socio-economically emancipated Africa is possible.
“The Nigeria of our dream is a country that works for everyone — where there is the rule of law, where every citizen has a sense of belonging wherever they are and do not need to live in perpetual fear of lurking evil. It is a country where our women are free from every form of mental and physical harassment and violence.
“Our dream Nigeria is a country where there are actual and affordable public services and infrastructure including well maintained roads with decent drainages, potable public water supply, and a clean environment. Our dream country is a country where public transport works. It is a country where there is zero tolerance for out-of school children and where no mother needs to die trying to give life.”