Organised Labour at yesterday’s May Day celebration, told President Muhammadu Buhari that workers and ordinary Nigerians were beginning to lose faith in the change mantra of the All Progressives Congress, APC-led Federal Government.
The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, were unanimous in condemning increasing poverty, unemployment, insecurity, erratic power supply, fuel scarcity, and called on government at all levels to urgently address the mounting hardship and frustration in the country.
Addressing the gathering at Eagle Square in Abuja, factional leader of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba, urged the President to provide people-based actions and programmes and not elitist programmes. He said the government should come up with discernible strategies and directions that would tell Nigerians where his government was headed economically.
He also implored the federal government to stop further attempts at privatisation, especially of railways, return local refineries to full capacity and invest in new refineries and in, the short-run, sort out the supply bottle-neck that had made product availability difficult in Nigeria.
On insecurity, he said: “At the beginning of the year, we had cause to assert that on the security front, our armed forces within the year, redeemed their reputation as a resilient fighting force and fought the Boko Haram insurgents, inflicting heavy defeats on them in the North Eastern part of the country.
“We said that our conviction was that though the war was still on-going, Nigerians now believed that it was only a matter of time before these evil forces are defeated.
“As workers, who have been direct victims of the violence in the North East, we want to use this May Day to restate our call for Mr. President to combine the military success with a marshal plan for the reconstruction of the devastated infrastructure of the geo-political zone.
“The ruling APC government in its manifesto, promised to create three million jobs annually. We have waited one year for the government to bring out its blueprints on how it intends to go about achieving this. Congress will seek audience with Mr. President to get more information on this important matter,” Wabba said.
The other factional leader of the NLC Joe Ajaero who held his own May Day rally in Lagos said “It is a shame that we have continued to import petroleum products. It is also a shame that we have also privatised it so that the products have become inaccessible to majority of the citizens, causing serious distortions to our economic processes.
“Fuel scarcity has persisted far longer than ever, foisting on our people the most horrendous of sufferings ever meted out to them by any ruling elite in our nation’s history.
“This has driven the prices of staples far above the reach of the ordinary people. Bread has gone up by 25%; Garri from N300 per paint bucket to N500; rice from N8,000 to N15,000; Milk and Chocolate beverages by about 50% while toiletries and other home products have all skyrocketed beyond the reach of workers and the masses.
“As a nation, we cannot be seriously thinking of economic development, when we allow our domestic manufacturing capacity to continue to decline. We cannot move forward as a nation, when instead of producing more products internally, we allow the existing ones to fold up.
“We cannot make progress when our tastes are heavily foreign. We cannot be talking of economic development when we continue to import petroleum products, allowing our local refineries to lie comatose. Has anybody imagined what would happen to the foreign exchange market and the pressure on the Naira if we stop this national insanity of importing petroleum products and refine our products locally?” Ajaero asked.