By JOAN NWAGWU
ILORIN – The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) says it plans to hold town-hall meetings across the country to engage political leaders on their programmes for workers and pensioners.
Mr Ayuba Wabba, NLC President, said this at the ongoing edition of the 18th Harmattan School on Wednesday in Ilorin, Kwara State.
The theme of the 18th Harmattan School is “Expanding Nigeria’s Democratic Space for Trade Union Organising in the World of Work”.
The programme, which commenced on December 5 and would end on December 9, is holding at the Michael Imoudu National Institute of Labour Studies (MINILS).
Wabba said that the town-hall meeting would create a platform to assess political leaders vying for the 2023 elections as it concerns workers and pensioners in the country.
According to him, workers and ordinary Nigerians want food on their tables, and security among other basic necessities.
“This is in every state and local government; we will have town-hall meetings where we will engage political leaders about what they have for workers and pensioners.
“Where we are not convinced, we tell the workers and pensioners as well as ordinary Nigerians to take their destinies in their hands.
“The town-hall meetings will enable workers to determine those who plan to continue impoverishing them, worsening their poverty levels, and so on.
“We must engage our leaders and politicians because we have families to take care of. We work to earn a living and we want food on the table of every Nigerian because we have the resources.
“We dare say that in our charter of demands, the major way to address poverty in Nigeria is for our industries to work,’’ he said.
Wabba noted that the government alone cannot provide jobs, adding that when industries are working and manufacturing, it would stop importation, increase jobs and eradicate poverty.
The NLC president also said that Nigeria has comparative advantages in the oil and gas sector of the economy.
According to him, today it is an eyesore everywhere in the country that despite being a major oil producing country, we import major parts of the country’s petroleum product’s needs.
“No OPEC member country in the world imports 100 per cent. It is only Nigeria because of the corruption that our leaders benefit from when they import.
“When you import you don’t even know the quantity. They give you a lot bills and they say there is subsidy.
”We have said the entry point for us to engage any politician is to give us his blueprint on what he wants to do with the refineries.
“They have sold more than 300 enterprises in the past, in most cases they close them down and continue to import. So nothing changes and we continue in shackles of the same cycle,’’ he said.
Wabba also that the 2022 Harmattan School was apt as it marked 20 years of the commencement of the school in Bauchi State.
He commended the government of Kwara state for providing a peaceful and conducive environment for the running of the Harmattan school.
“We are running this school in Kwara for obvious reasons, as MINILS is named after labour leader number one of both in substance and quality, Michael Imodu of blessed memory.
“MINILS is very useful and can be attributed to the quality leadership that is being offered and therefore technically, we will continue to run the school here in Kwara.
“Since the inaugural Harmattan school in 2002, successive leadership of the NLC has continue to run this school yearly, we have also improved on the curriculum on contemporary issues of trade unions, among others,‘’ he said.
Speaking, Mr Issa Aremu, Director-General/Chief Executive Officer of MINILS, commended the NLC for keeping faith with its foundational objectives that included regular education of workers and members.
Aremu said that with the annual Rain school, monthly lectures series, state level leadership programme, study cycle, NLC over the years had shown remarkable commitment to members’ education.
He added that the good work of the congress complements the core mandate of MINILS which is promoting labour education for workers, employers and government officials.(NAN)