By Tosin Kolade
Abuja – As Nigeria marks her 59th Independence, the organised labour has called on the country to reassert her value and leadership in the continent and stand by the tenets of democracy.
Mr Ayuba Wabba, the NLC President, in a statement said the anniversary of Nigeria, like the ones before it, offered an opportunity for serious soul-searching and very candid reflection.
According to him, in our journey to nationhood, Nigeria has had a number of highs and lows, saying while we should celebrate the highs, we must also ponder on the lows and pick useful lessons from them.
“It is important to celebrate the deconstruction of colonial rule and what independence offered the Nigerian nation and people.
“A priceless opportunity to pursue our dreams and rewrite the history of colonial evil by the strides of our post colonial existence,” he said.
Wabba said that the country started off on a trajectory of solid foundation laid by the country’s founding fathers, who he said were in a hurry to hurl her at par with development elsewhere.
He said that the founding fathers invested heavily to build the social capital of the country through their commitment to quality and universal public education and construction of excellent medical facilities.
The result, according to him, was topnotch human capital development as Nigeria became the doyen of intellectualism in Africa, producing world class scholars, professionals and workers in different sectors of the economy.
He stated that many of the country’s universities and hospitals were ranked among the best on the continent and in the world, adding that it attracted scholars and sick people from all over Africa and even beyond.
According to him, our founding fathers showed sincere commitment to industrialisation because they believed in the dignity of labour and wanted every Nigerian to be gainfully employed.
“Industrialisation was not the dessert but the main menu of governance, our founding fathers proved this by creating the enabling environment for industrialisation, by providing quality roads, mass electrification and security of lives and property.
Wabba, however, said that the 59th independence anniversary offered Nigeria a moment to reflect, re-prioritise, re-strategise, re-position, and re-launch the Nigerian dream.
He said that as leaders and citizens, “we owe ourselves, and generations unborn the responsibility of bequeathing a nation of justice, equity and prosperity.
The Trade Union Congress (TUC) President, Quadri Olaleye, and Secretary General, Musa-Lawal Ozigi, in a statement said military incursion into politics, corruption, ethnicity, religious crisis were major reasons inhibiting the nation’s growth.
The statement read, “The military incursion into politics, corruption, ethnicity, religious crisis, have worked against our national development. It is even more worrisome and unfortunate that at this time and age the crack is widening by the day.
“We must interrogate the reason why countries we were at par with have left us far behind. China, India, Indonesia, were our contemporaries but they are now in the first league while we are dragging economic space with some countries in Africa.
“Although revenue from tax has improved significantly but unfortunately, instead of widening the tax net, the impoverished public is overtaxed, leading to despondency and despair.”
TUC also berated the Federal Government for failing to pay the new Minimum Wage of N30,000 as earlier agreed.
“We find it disturbing that months after the National Minimum Wage committee set up by the Federal Government to work on the new wage had submitted their report, government is still not committed to paying the new wage.
“We are beginning to think that signing it in the first place was because of the 2019 General Elections. To talk about setting up another committee over the same issue makes us feel we have been swindled. We have learnt our lessons.
“The argument on the part of government has always been that there is no money to pay minimum wage, whereas lawmakers have budgeted N5.6bn to purchase automobile that are not produced in Nigeria.
“Our belief is that government can actually pay if only the cost of governance will be reduced.”