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Saturday, 21 March 2015

NLC deserves hearty congratulation, but there are great tasks ahead!

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) deserves a hearty congratulation from all progressive and democratic elements in Nigeria over the successful conclusion of its 11th Convention on Saturday 14th March, 2015.

The atmosphere of geniality, camaraderie and openness that surrounded the Eagle Square venue of the Convention was most heartwarming.
With the emergence of Comrade Ayuba Philibus Wabba as the new NLC President at a well attended and democratically conducted delegate conference, it is expected that all old animosities and misgivings that trailed the previous attempt to conclude the conference would be laid to rest.
Comrade Ayuba Philibus Wabba as the new NLC President
This, not only against the background that the last few years have witnessed the dwindling of the fortunes of NLC and plummeting of its prestige and reliability profile amongst the workers and the generality of the suffering masses, but also as a result of the palpable docility of the Abdulwaheed Omar leadership in the last eight years.

Chairman, Alhaji Abdulkadri Salam and Secretary, Barrister Olukayode Ajulo, Labour Party of Nigeria
at the NEC Meeting in Ibadan.

From the Golden Era of Hassan Sumonu through the progressively febrile days of maverick comrade Adams Oshiomole who showed Nigerians that not only would Nigerian workers not condone military dictatorship, but that they would not equally fail to keep civilian dictatorship and executive lawlessness at bay, the NLC suddenly simmered to a mournful complacency under Omar.
The years under Omar were years of loss of confidence in a meddlesome leadership that shirked its responsibility to the generality of the Nigerian workers, while fueling in-fighting within the Congress itself.
It was indeed most disheartening when at the first attempt the just-concluded delegate conference hit the rock.
Now it is expected that all truly progressive and democratic unionists must sheath their swords and join hands with the new leadership to clear the Augean stable and forge ahead to do the task at hand.
Nigerians today expect the new leadership of NLC to be alive to its role of defending the economic interest of organized labour, providing leadership for the working people in the continue struggle against the neoliberal policies foisted on African and Third World countries by the Bretton Woods institutions and engaging in politics up to partisan level as informed stakeholders, rather than self-aggrandizing labour aristocrats.
In practical terms, and in the immediate, this translates to the following: the new leadership of NLC must continue to ensure that at all levels national minimum wage is adhered to and reviewed as at when due; it must demand and struggle to ensure that salary arrears and emoluments of workers are promptly paid, especially now that most states of the federation are owing workers upward of 3 months’ salary; it must wage a relentless struggle against casualisation; it must insist on restructuring, devolution of powers and economic diversification in order to ensure viability of the states; and  it must also insist on the implementation of all pro-labour and pro-people resolution of the 2014 National Conference.
However, the first signs of distraction and morale-dampening anti-union activities have been mooted by the defeated old guards within NLC.
Those who ran down the electric train of the apex labour union in eight years of ineptitude are already threatening to hold their own alternative delegate conference. They are threatening to divide a union handed down by their forebears, on selfish grounds.
Instead of acknowledging the fact of their popular rejection at the polls, they are whipping up sentiment and romancing illegality, ignoring the fact that NLC is a legally recognized body with standing not only in Nigeria but also internationally.
Our advice to them is that these disgruntled elements need to be more circumspect in whatever steps they take in the nearest future, admitting humbly the need to rub in the ointment of defeat as a necessary balm for self-criticism and  the rebirth needed to face a common challenging future full of hope for the working people of Nigeria.
•Barrister Olukayode Ajulo, 
National Secretary, Labour Party (LP)

Credit: Daily Independent, Nigeria

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