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Workers set to mark May Day

By Adamu Abu, Collins Olayinka, John Okeke, Kanayo Umeh (Abuja) and Yetunde Ebosele (Lagos)
01 May 2015   |   2:53 am
WORKERS in Nigeria will join their counterparts around the world today to mark the 2015 May Day.

President Goodluck Jonathan

WORKERS in Nigeria will join their counterparts around the world today to mark the 2015 May Day.

Today’s celebration is coming on the heels of fuel scarcity, rising inflation, insecurity, a divided Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), among other national challenges.

The celebration may have a different colouration in Nigeria as the two factions of the NLC will be holding different rallies in Abuja and Lagos. While sthe Wabba Ayuba-led faction will hold its rally in Abuja, the Joe Ajaero-led faction is expected to mark the day in Lagos.

The power struggle at the national level of the NLC will also be manifest in the states where parallel May Day would be held. One dominant personality that has always attended the Abuja May Day rally is President Goodluck Jonathan.

Whether the President will attend the 2015 edition of the rally remains to be seen as he is expected to step down on May 29. It is obvious that the labour movement would be demanding increase in the minimum wage as well as stating their opposition to any plan to remove fuel subsidy.

The Joint Chairman, 2015 May Day Committee of both the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC), Peters Adeyemi, said in Abuja that labour does not believe government pays any subsidy on petroleum products. He declared that labour would not accept any increase in the price of petroleum products.

Adeyemi also said Congress has begun work to justify pay increment. He listed naira devaluation, rising cost of living and inflation as factors that have eroded the gains achieved when minimum wage was moved to N18, 000.

In a related development, workers under the aegis of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers backed by the Ajaero-led NLC yesterday took to the streets in Lagos to protest the alleged rot in the oil and gas sector as well as the proposed removal of fuel subsidy by government.

The group called on the incoming government to cancel all contracts reached with Niger Delta militants to protect petroleum pipelines across the country.

The workers marched through Ikorodu road down to Maryland where they were addressed by their leaders. They pledged to continue with the protest today at the National Assembly, pointing out that they are opposed to fuel subsidy removal.

Adeyemi, who is also the General Secretary of the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU), berated the Kogi State governor, Idris Wada, for allegedly attempting to further pauperize the workers by proposing 40 percent reduction in the pay of workers.

He said the governor should lead by example by first reducing his jumbo salary and allowances, then reduce those of his numerous aides and then minimise the number of aides he has. Adeyemi argued that the Kogi State government will save enough money to pay workers the governor has not paid for several months, especially teachers. Meanwhile, the President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, has extolled the sacrifices of the Nigerian working class in the face of economic tough times in their everyday struggle to survive.

In his May Day message to Nigerian workers, Buhari, who said he was fully aware of the hardships of the Nigerian working class, assured that he would reward hardworking workers once he assume the helms of affairs of the country.

The president-elect blamed poor governance and large-scale pervasive corruption in the country for the plight of the Nigerian workers. Also, the Acting Inspector-General of Police, Solomon Arase, has rejoiced with the nation’s labour movement on this occasion.

A statement by Force Spokesman, Emmanuel Ojukwu, said: “The IGP wishes to assure the nation’s work-force, that finest detail is being given to security arrangements nationwide to ensure hitch-free celebrations, as heads of Police formations nationwide have been directed to deploy their large human and material resources for a successful celebration.

He admonishes workers to report any security threats in their locality to the Police and other law enforcement agencies promptly. The National Orientation Agency (NOA) called on Nigerian workers to accord the in-coming government of Buhari the same level of support it gave to the government of President Goodluck Jonathan, adding that their cooperation will go a long way to ensure the success of the new administration’s programmes.

Also yesterday, the Director General of Electoral ‎Institute, Prof. Abubakah Momoh said the inability of NLC to resolve it crisis will have a great effect on Nigerian workers.

Speaking as a guest speaker on ‘Good Governance’ at a pre-May Day symposium organised by the Ajaero group, he said NLC must go back to the drawing board, pointing out that both factions cannot trive in the crisis.