TUC blames political misrule on passive labour movement
The passive nature of latter-day labour unionism that places a high premium on self-adulation, acquisition of material wealth has been blamed for the political misrule of the country.
The President of Trade Congress (TUC), Quadri Olaleye, who stated this at the labour centre’s political roundtable held in Abuja, explained that it is a sad commentary that the labour movement has been a reactive body rather than a being a proactive force in the political firmaments of Nigeria.
His words: “Sometimes, I feel ashamed blaming the politicians for the looting and mismanagement of the economy. I feel that way because it is the lack of active participation of organised labour in Nigerian politics that is responsible for the pains Nigerians are going through today. We have not successfully tapped into the opportunity provided in a liberal democracy that emphasises grassroots participation and negotiation of interests. Staying aloof will further worsen the situation as there is no dividing line between politics and the economy.”
He argued that the emergence of credible leaders with working-class backgrounds is capable of changing, re-engineering and revamping the economy and guaranteeing a living wage and social justice for the working people.
The TUC chief submitted that the reason for the incessant labour agitations either in form of street protest or strike action is because labour is not involved in the policymaking process.
“They deliberately shield us but we are now saying no more. No more anti-people policies; no more fuel scarcity, no more unemployment and no more insecurity. Yes, we are saying no more ethnic and religious crises! Nigerians are entitled to decent work, good governance and social and economic justice. Enough of the self-serving and insensitive political class at the helms of affairs,” he stated.
On his part, the immediate past Chairman of the Independent National Election Commission (INEC), Prof Mahmud Jega, said there is no better way for the organised labour to strategically advance the collective interests of the working people of Nigeria than to join forces with other patriotic forces and actively engage with politics and governance.
Jega stated’ “In addition, organized labour has to forge unity among the trade unions and labour movements in the country, at the least based on a minimum agenda of mobilizing, educating, enlightening and consciencetizing Nigerian workers to get them to resolve to use the electoral process in the politics leading to 2023 general elections.
Jega stressed that the labour movement must motivate and encourage Nigerian workers to register to vote, then turn out to vote, and then vote only for parties/candidates of good character who are sincerely committed to promoting, advancing, defending, and implementing a Nigerian Workers charter of demand when elected.
“As 2023 general elections are literally around the corner, this, it can be argued, is the most realistic potentially successful option to pursue in the present circumstances. Beyond 2023, concerted effort can then be channelled and focused on the creation/strengthening of a working people’s party, which must be well established and structured for future more impactful engagement in Nigerian politics. It needs to be recognized that in the Present circumstances, workers ignore participation in electoral politics at their peril,” Jega submitted.
He cautioned that the time of narrowly believing that workers’ interests can only be advanced through collective bargaining is over, saying the time of ‘siddon look’, while ruffians and crooks occupy and dominate the political and governance spaces, through manipulation of the electoral process in Nigeria is equally over.