2023: Nigeria Labour Congress calls for restructuring

Ayuba Wabba

NLC President Ayuba Wabba

The Nigeria Labour Congress(NLC) has called for restructuring that would bring good governance, sustainable development and social justice as the country approaches the 2023 general election and beyond.

The NLC President, Mr Ayuba Wabba, said this at the 2022Workers Political Conference on Wednesday in Abuja.

The theme of the Conference is, “Commitment to National Emancipation and Development through Effective Political Engagement by Workers’’.

According to Wabba, the Conference seeks to set the Labour Agenda as a guide to our affiliates and workers and for engagement with Nigeria’s political class at federal, state, local government and ward.

“With 2023 in view, there is a lot of politicking, intrigues and subterfuge in the political space. Every indication shows that the polity is once again being over-heated.

“Sadly, as it has become a norm with our cycle of broken politics, the polity is not being heated with questions and answers on how the current political mandate has been used by political officeholders.

“The polity is not being over-heated with concerns on how the current ruling elites have honoured the socio-economic rights of Nigerians in Chapter Two of the 1999 Constitution.

“The polity is not being over-heated with new ideas of how politicians can meet the expectations of Nigerians who want constant power, motorable roads, adequate security, and living wages that will offer workers a chance at a decent living.

“The near absence and acute deficit of serious engagement with these existential political concerns have provided the context for this Workers’ Political Conference,’’ he said.

He added that we have thought hard and long about how our political elites have treated the national questions of good governance, sustainable development and social justice.

He noted that the purpose of the Political Conference was to reconstruct the critical bridge of issue-based politics that accommodates the interests of Nigerian workers and people.

According to him, our determination is that in the run-up to the 2023 elections, we must not allow professional politicians to evade critical questions of national development.

“This is why we have developed a Workers Charter of Demands that prioritises equity, fairness and social justice.

“Our charter of demands asks for free and quality education to tertiary levels for every Nigerian child. Our Charter of Demands insists that every Nigerian should access free and quality healthcare from cradle to grave.

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“Our charter of demands make the argument for the kind of restructuring that brings sustainable development to real Nigerians currently struggling with the crumbs,’’ he said.

The NLC president also said the demand posits that politicians should no longer be allowed to send their kids to schools abroad or treat their sicknesses in foreign hospitals, while the poor are trapped in an endless strike and poor medical facilities.

He also demanded the promotion of decent work conditions for workers including equal pay for work of equal value, training, predictable promotion and affordable housing close to workers’ places of work,’’ he said.

Wabba said the demand also called for prompt payment of pension and other retirement benefits to the aged pensioners and the protection of all trade union rights, among others.

“Our charter of demands is a pact of emancipation for Nigerian workers and people. It is our duty to put it at the front burner of 2023 politics.

“We can make this happen by mobilizing every worker in Nigeria to get their Permanent Voters Card (PVC) ready.

According to him, the next step is to engage politically. We must be ready to engage political parties, especially the Workers Political Party and progressive political interests across the country.

He said this was to ensure that a significant number of candidates who would vie for elective positions in 2023 subscribe to the provisions of our Charter.

He commended the signing of the Electoral Act 2022 into law, adding that, ”it is helpful that the Act allows INEC to fully deploy electronic voting systems for future elections.

“We hope that this will help us achieve one-man-one-vote and one-woman-one-vote. We expect workers’ votes to count in 2023. We expect free, fair and credible elections.

“ We urge INEC and security agencies to stamp out the menace of vote-buying and electoral violence during the 2023 polls.

“ INEC should also perfect the Bi-modal Voter Accreditation System to drastically reduce resort to incidence forms and disenfranchisement of eligible voters.

“In 2023, it is our collective responsibility to ensure that all votes count and in case you are still wondering why Nigerian workers are now very passionate about engagement with partisan politics.

“ Therefore, be ready to join us when our campaign hits your geo-political zone, state, local government, ward, and polling unit, ’’he added.

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