May Day: It’s Been Terrible, Excruciating For Workers — NLC

Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, has described last year as terrible and excruciating for workers and other Nigerians.

This came as workers in the petroleum, electricity, maritime, manufacturing and other sectors, decried the present level of misery, poverty and hopelessness across the country.

The Congress urged the incoming government to address the worsening poverty, insecurity, unemployment, inflation, high cost of living and frustration in the nation.

According to NLC General Secretary, in a chat with VANGUARD NEWSPAPER, Emma Ugboaja, said: “The last one year has been torturous for Nigerians, especially workers in every sector.

“Tertiary education has been severely fractured, the manufacturing sector has been comatose as energy supply, layoffs and high cost of doing business have characterized the sector.

“There was no growth due to the inability of operators to access foreign exchange to buy raw materials, spare parts and other necessities. This impacted negatively on the workers, stagnated wages and worsened unemployment and poverty in all sectors.

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“Road transportation was among the worst hit because the supply of petroleum products was disrupted in most parts of the year to the extent that besides the scarcity, the prices were prohibited and unaffordable.

“The health sector has remained in a sorry state. Government officials are comfortable driving government vehicles, they are comfortable living in government houses and among others, but uncomfortable going to government hospitals. It has been terrible.

‘’The cost of living has been criminally high, unemployment, poverty and insecurity of life and property are just beyond description. The last year was really bad.”

On expectations of the incoming government, the NLC scribe declared: “We expect the struggle for the rights and welfare of workers to be more intense because when President Buhari made a famous quote in the earlier part of his eight years regime to say he wondered how state governors went to beds and slept knowing that workers were being owed huge arrears of salaries, he was speaking directly to the pains and feelings of workers.

“He had also in appreciation of the torture and agony the working people and their families were going through as a result of his inability to manage the refining capacity and fuel supply in Nigeria, resisted the pressure from cosmetic economists that see everything wrong in discussing production.

‘’He had resisted their pressures to continuously increase the fuel pump price, knowing that they were urging him to set the nation on fire.

‘’However, we have a President-elect whose direct voice said the opposite, even in his campaign. His own direct voice said he was going to deal with the issue of managing the downstream sector pressure, not minding the level of protest and anger that will be borne out of it. That clearly shows you a direction of his insensitivity.

“It is not like Buhari who denied every word that was spoken to convince Nigerians to vote for him and the storyline we got was that it was never said by him, but by his supporters and party.

‘’In this case, it was a direct quote from Bola Ahmed Tinubu on the direction he would pursue regarding the mainstream of the Nigerian economy, which is fuel management.

“You know that effort to refine in Nigeria cannot cause an uproar, but set up of refineries in Nigeria will cause jubilation. It will be a spontaneous scream for joy if Nigerian refining capacity is restored.

‘’What will present an outrage and force people into the streets will be an astronomical rise in the cost of petroleum products. So, we are waiting with bated breath to know what will happen.

“In fact, this might be the first time we will be wishing that a politician will not honour his campaign promise. It is an irony and cruel joke. But it might be one time in Nigeria that electorate will be praying that a politician does not honour his campaign statement.

“Whatever that comes, we are prepared to face the challenges because we have no other country but Nigeria. But for workers, there won’t be Nigeria. When our leaders rush to spend holidays in other countries, the workers are the ones that keep the country going.

“When they rush to spend time in hospital beds outside the country, Nigerian workers keep the country going. We do not have the luxury to do what they do. They spend their holidays outside the country to the detriment of our economy.

“They pursue their health status outside the country to the detriment of our economy. They pursue the education and training of their children and family members outside the country to the detriment of our economy.

“So, the workers are the ones that keep the Nigerian economy going. We are Nigerians and it is us that would continue to cry and struggle to keep our country because we do not have any other place.

“They have dual nationalities and they have homes all over the globe. We are here, it is our life and we are not going to lay back and get crushed. We are down but we are not out. He that is down needs fear no fall. We will keep crawling, struggling and pushing to get on our feet.”