Activists urge Nigerians to speak out against bad leadership



John_OdahLabour and civil society activists under the aegis of Abuja Collective have called on Nigerians to speak out against politicians whose actions are counter to the overall interest of the Nigeria. Their call was contained in a welcome address presented on their behalf by Comrade John Odah, immediate past General Secretary of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), at a memorial event convened to celebrate the lives and times of the late Baba Omojola and Professor Festus Iyayi held in Abuja on Thursday.
According to Comrade Odah, speaking out now is necessary because this is a period in which Nigeria is going through one of the greatest challenges since its history. “At a time when our nation is going through some of its severest challenges and difficulties, since the civil war, as patriots, it is our belief that the task of rebuilding our nation is one that should not be left to only the political class. Nigerians from all works of life must speak out against the desperate and despicable habit of large sections of the political elite, trying to manipulate our religious and ethnic diversity for devious political agendas. The needs of our country men and women for good governance, for accountable public officers, for qualitative education, for qualitative healthcare, for clean environment, are blind to our religions and ethnic divide. They are issues which Nigerians from the North, South, East and West, from all nooks and cranny of this vast nation are united on,” Odah said.
Speakers at the memorial also condemned the present neglect of public education by successive governments at all levels arguing that it is impeding the development of the country in all sectors of the economy.
In the keynote address titled “The Banishing of the Revolutionary Intellectuals,” Yunusa Zakari Ya’u, a veteran activists and former lecturer at the Bayero University, Kano, described the attitude of the political leadership of the country towards education as tragic.
According to him, the key focus of his address is to provoke discourse in the way education has been handled over the years, which he said is unusual. “It is unusual because any society that has lost its capacity for the production of critical thinkers is doomed to extinction,” Ya’u argued.
He added that “Our schools are bad because our education system is in crisis, which is the result of the lack of interest in education by government. That we can today tolerate governments which pay lip service to education, knowing full well that we cannot as individuals find self-fulfilment and as a nation, cannot develop, without education, expresses one level of what I mean by the chance that society gives to us.”
He argued that education trains minds to think and reflect and also enable discourse and debate ideas, clarify, modify and update knowledge.
Comrade Issa Aremu, General Secretary of National Union Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers, said organised labour would not hesitate to mobilise for the masses to embark on a campaign for more funding for public education. He also said the dream of joining the 20 largest economies in the world by 2020 cannot be realized with the direction the country is heading in the implementation of education policies and funding. “Nigeria cannot be one of the 20 leading economies in the world in the next 20 or even 100 years until it gets its education priorities right. One of the key issues that should determine the election of next year should be education. I think labour will make it an issue amongst other core labour issues such as pension and wages…I am shocked that the issue of polytechnic strike is not even discussed by the National Assembly. We are yet to hear political parties taking a position on fundamental issues that unite Nigeria,” Comrade Aremu said.

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