|The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) felicitates with all Nigerians on the occasion of the 52ndanniversary of the country’s Independence as a sovereign nation. We particularly wish to salute the resilience, commitment and perseverance of Nigerian workers and working families, who in the face of harsh economic policies, exacerbated by corruption, insecurity, and unprecedented impunity by the ruling class have continued to believe in the efficacy of the Nigerian project.This unwavering passion for the sustainability of the Nigerian nation is borne out of a deep sense of history. It is an appreciation of the reality that agonizing, lamentations, and sloganeering on the reckless profligacy and outright betrayal of the peoples’ trust by the powers that be, will no longer suffice in gingering policy makers to building a nation of our dreams.
At 52, the aspirations of the average Nigerian, was a country that would accomplish remarkable feats in governance, science and technology, industrial and infrastructural development as well as attain a high standard of living.
While the problems of achieving these ideals have variously been attributed to prolonged years of military dictatorship, the promise of civil rule since 1999, is yet to signal attainment of these goals.
Given this dismal scenario, it is apparent that the challenges facing our country in this generation and generations unborn can only be outgrown and fulfilled not by the prevailing political class and their Brenton Woods neo-liberal economic philosophers, but by the will, resilience and pro-activeness of the working class and working families, to push for an alternative development paradigm that focuses on job creation, the welfare of the poor and other vulnerable groups rather than capital and big business.
The neo-liberal market-driven policies which decisively reared its head in the so-called Structural Adjustment programme in 1986, and has been rabidly and blindly pursued since 1999, cannot rejuvenate the Nigerian economy and place it on a path of sustainable development to deliver on peoples’ welfare. What the country requires, if it is serious about a fundamental turn-around, is a critical state-led development programme that has seen the transformation of many economies of Asia. Even the apostles of neo-liberalism, had to resort to intensive state intervention and huge dosage of regulation when hit by the recent global financial crisis. It is time for our leaders to wake up for Nigeria, and stop being guided by economic stereotypes that are arcane and have been tested and found wanting.
Nigerians urgently desire to see their country’s economy back in sound health, and have given all support required through long years of self denial and sacrifice, but are yet to see practical and reassuring steps by government towards this direction.
From the above, it is apparent that our policy makers need to free themselves of pressures and blackmail from foreign institutions whose neo liberal economic policies that were imposed on previous governments never worked in our collective interests as a nation, but ended up weakening our socio-economic structures; widened the gap between the rich and the poor; destroyed jobs and industry as well as education.
We believe that if policy is directed towards reindustrialization with all the energy and resources required, more idle hands will be engaged in productive employment. This way, we would have less challenge in crimes and insecurity.
While majority of our people can’t afford one meal a day, corruption in high places has grown to disturbing heights. No country will ever develop with economic criminals feasting on the commonwealth of the nation. The huge amount involved in reported cases of corruption when put together will be enough to rapidly wake up our economy, re-energize our education sector, create jobs and reduce tension.
Even when Mr. President continues to express his commitment to anti corruption policies, we do not see the same seriousness reflected in the activities of the administration and the legislature. For instance, those listed as having diverted or misappropriated petroleum subsidy funds are yet to face serious prosecution due mainly to undue interference by the powers that be. It will be a tragedy, and one that would have serious repercussions from the working people, if government is seen to be protecting those who have been accused of stealing public funds.
While Nigerians eagerly look forward to their immediate prosecution, some of those listed as subsidy thieves are regularly seen around the corridors of power openly hob nobbing with the Presidency. This cannot encourage any serious anti corruption struggle. We caution that workers and the Nigerian people are keenly watching the ongoing melodrama associated with the oil removal scandal. The struggle is not yet over, as an attempt to shield these fraudsters and their collaborators will be decisively resisted by the Labour Movement.
Every step taken by government on the privatization of public corporations seem directed towards justifying corruption as the process remain obviously exclusive and guided by too many secrecy. Looking at the list of those reported to have been sold properties belonging to the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, we are convinced that rather than punish those who have been identified to have ruined our economy and shortchanged our people by diverting public resources to their private use, they are being rewarded through privatization. Nigeria is clearly being handed over to a few private individuals, which must not be accepted.
Corruption and the near collapse of the economy are responsible for the increasing spate of insecurity, violent crimes and the dangerous reality of the full presence of terrorism in our country. No country will successfully tackle insecurity under the reign of corruption and unemployment.
Nigerians need to be on notice that we must all prepare to take our collective destiny on our hands and pursue a quick reawakening that will rebuild our collective capacity to engage the political class who has continuously shown their inability to rescue our country from the abyss.
Workers and working families must not give up. We must be prepared to provide vision if they have none, and give them an agenda, if they have none. We must constantly demand good governance to halt their constant display of impunity and disgust for our collective interests.
We must not lose hope but renew our energy towards deepening the struggle for good governance, for together we shall outgrow our challenges.
Abdulwahed Omar Chris Uyot
President Acting General Secretary
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