Our leaders have watched everyday grievances and worries crystallise into terrorism, banditry and militant activism. Our present state of despair has put unbridled assault on the existence of the Nigeria worker. We no longer have leaders who believe in selflessness and sacrifice. We no longer have leaders who are capable of mentoring the future generation. The Nigeria worker is in dire strait. His or her purchasing power has waned due to bad economy; life has become so precarious and uncertain. Our working masses have no hope of being in employment by the end of the running year. He or she may be redundant or turned into a casual worker. Except our capacity for deep reflection is completely eroded, the Nigeria worker and masses have no reason at this time to celebrate May Day. It is supposed to be a time for sober reflection. The working masses of today appear to be alone; he goes about with heart laden with seemingly insurmountable burdens. Nigeria Labour Congress of today is inept and as clueless as the Nigeria state of today.

THE Nigerian labour movement has a robust and rich history. The movement has been in the forefront of the emancipation of the working masses from the shackles of labour slavery. It was involved in the independent struggle, and was deeply involved in the struggle to rescue Nigeria from the yoke of military rule. We can certainly say that the Nigerian labour movement, in the past, lived up to its objectives and core values.

As we celebrate the 2021 May Day in the midst of uncertainties – global Covid-19 pandemic, internal security challenges and myriad of other ailing issues; I raise my clenched fists in salute to all our past leaders, who passionately and courageously stood in the gap for us.

Nigeria and Nigerians need NLC now like never. No nation can survive without a conscientious civil society. One can argue that, as at today, a number of our civil society organisations are run by impostors without the requisite commitment and capacity to effectively provide the needed advocacy and sensitisation to confront the forces and elements undermining the Nigerian dream.

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The Nigerian labour movement has a huge role to play! It has to provide leadership that can effectively galvanise the energy of the civil society. Its role as the conscience of the nation must not be toyed with. Nigeria is now in complete disarray! The nation resembles the epicentre of darkness, the fog of insecurity and uncertainty tends to cover our socio-political sphere. Bad governance, weak economy, treats of division, religious extremism are trending.

In the midst of these crises, the Nigeria worker is most affected, most traumatised, most dehumanised. If he or she has not lost someone in Benue, he may have lost one in Katsina, Zamfara, Ebonyi, Enugu or elsewhere around the country. Some unknown forces are bent on re-colonializing and turning all indigenous Nigerians into Fulani subjects. The working masses live in perpetual fear, the next minute is uncertain. Anything can happen!

Our leaders have watched everyday grievances and worries crystallise into terrorism, banditry and militant activism. Our present state of despair has put unbridled assault on the existence of the Nigeria worker. We no longer have leaders who believe in selflessness and sacrifice. We no longer have leaders who are capable of mentoring the future generation. The Nigeria worker is in dire strait. His or her purchasing power has waned due to bad economy; life has become so precarious and uncertain. Our working masses have no hope of being in employment by the end of the running year. He or she may be redundant or turned into a casual worker. Except our capacity for deep reflection is completely eroded, the Nigeria worker and masses have no reason at this time to celebrate May Day. It is supposed to be a time for sober reflection. The working masses of today appear to be alone; he goes about with heart laden with seemingly insurmountable burdens. Nigeria Labour Congress of today is inept and as clueless as the Nigeria state of today.

It was Ayn Rand; a Russian-American writer, who said: “When you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing – when you see that money is flowing to those who deal not in goods, but in favour – when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you. When you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice, you may know that your society is doomed.”

The Congress has completely abdicated its core values and objectives. The unwarranted gruesome killings of Nigeria, high electricity tariff, incessant strikes by different trade groups, high petroleum products prices, lopsidedness in federal appointments, etc.; are not enough to wake the leadership of the Congress from its protracted slumber. NLC was quick to rush to Port Harcourt to harass Governor Wike because he was the only strong voice in the wilderness of opposition. The intention was to silence him, but NLC silenced itself! The Congress proved to the world that NLC of today is the military wing of APC. The virus of docility sowed by Comrade Umar-led leadership has blossomed and flowered in the regime of Comrade Ayuba Wabba. NLC that was partisan in 2015 has refused to courageously tell Nigeria that they are sorry in their choice of support. A clueless and inept regime has festered so dangerously with selfish and ambitious efforts of the present leadership.

The Nigerian worker is today the most hopeless in the continent. Our labour leaders in almost all the affiliates of the Congress have not only turned completely partisan; they have unabashedly become cheerleaders of corrupt politicians. It was Ayn Rand; a Russian-American writer, who said: “When you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing – when you see that money is flowing to those who deal not in goods, but in favour – when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you. When you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice, you may know that your society is doomed.”

Nigeria is indeed doomed! Those who have the platform and capacity to speak up should not keep quiet. The silence and docility of NLC now is very dangerous. If there’s crisis in Nigeria the already weakened Nigeria worker will bear the brunt. I sincerely salute the courage and sacrifices of the working masses.

I pray that God of workers will reward us.

Comrade Amechi, a labour activist, writes from Lagos.

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