MOSES JOHN writes on the quest for labour movement to play active role in politics as a panacea to endless struggle for a living wage and a better Nigeria.
The struggle for a living wage and a better Nigeria has been on the forefront of all activities of labour movement in Nigeria.
It is however clear that continued protest, strike, placards and banging of table by the organised labour can only yield but little result.
This however calls for a change of strategy and approach by the labour movement to ensure a better society that workers can be paid a living wage.
Labour capturing political power
Speaking on the development, NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba says the body is conscious of the fact that the daily struggles of the working class against capitalists and the state, have limitations without the question of capturing political power.
Based on this therefore, he says Labour Party was created as a political vehicle for the working people, and urges workers to unite and take control of the party to provide political leadership in the country.
“We are not yet disillusioned with developments within the party as we are mindful of the obvious fact that each organisation has its peak and low periods in its natural process of growth.
“We therefore call for unity of its members and urge all workers to register, claim it, control and have it as their party.”
‘Governance is value-driven’
Also speaking, former governor of Edo state, Comrade Adams Oshiomole, believes those in power will never govern according to the core values of Nigerians workers, and therefore urges a change in focus on their struggle for a better society.
According to him, government and governance are “value-driven and it’s a basic act to decide who gets what and who pays for it.
He urges the Nigerian workers to fully engage in political activities in the country, adding that placards, persuasion and negotiation will never bring about the desired change workers yearn for.
“Those who are in power will never govern according to your role values. The position they take on or the policy choices they make are not the result of errors of your judgement. They are the conscious decision taken in order to ensure that a particular class gets more. And the more a particular class gets, the less that is available for the rest of the masses.
“So government and governance is value driven, is a basic act to decide who gets what and who pays for it. Placards can moderate and force them to go back and re-strategise. But placards and the most potent strike will not change their value system. Rather, they go back and strategise on how best to continue to dominate and use the instrument of state to enrich those they wish and protect those they also choose.
“Placards, persuasion and negotiation cannot make some certain changes that workers actually need. So, the NLC needs to acquire some political powers. It’s need to reposition itself and use its powers to effect those changes it desires. And the union needs not to doubt whether it has that kind of capacity.”
Also, Professor Attahiru Jega who was a guest lecturer at the event to commemorate the celebration of NLC @40, calls on workers to mobilise and participate in politics beyond agitating for wage increase.
Speaking on the topic ‘Labour, Politics and Governance in Nigeria’, the former ASUU President also urges workers to put pressure on elected executives and representatives, to be responsible and responsive to the needs and aspirations of the citizens.
The former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) further charges the NLC leadership to retrace its steps and rekindle the spirit and strengthen the NLC of yesteryears.
Continuing struggle for a better society
Also in his paper titled, ‘NLC Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: National Unity and Social Justice;’ Prof. Omotoye Olorode, says labour must continue to struggle for a fair and a better society.
“In the foregoing type of situation of exploited-exploiter dynamic, there is, throughout human history from slave-owning society till today, a constant struggle for justice and equality in society.
“This class struggle at times endangers the ruling class so much that fundamental concessions must be made to the oppressed in order to avoid being overthrown and stripped of its material base.
“It is class struggles of various intensities, at times producing social revolutions, that won for the oppressed the right to organise trade unions, the right to vote, the right to national independence, the right to minimum wage, right to education, health and social security, the right to work and to decent working conditions, and even the right of workers to form their own political parties. Some political philosophers actually insist that the history of all human societies is the history of class struggles.
“Because of the confusion that Nigerian’s prodigal ruling class is creating, after auctioning Nigeria to foreign business interests and its members, over national unity (and regarding the cacophonous manipulation of ethnic and religious antipathies among people), placing the question of national unity and social justice on the agenda of this celebration is a well-considered imperative”.
Labour struggles for nation’s unity
According to him, the Nigerian Labour movement has consistently struggled to unite Nigerian people across tribal and regional lines. “This is why it was the labour movement that spearheaded the struggle for Nigeria’s independence! It is the labour movement that sustains Nigeria’s sovereignty and social justice (basic human rights; economic, social and political rights) on Nigeria’s national agenda.
“It is the Nigerian labour movement alone that is defending, today, Chapter II of the Constitution-the de facto Ground norm of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Objectives and Directive Principles of the State Policy), and especially its sections and 16(1) and section16 (2).
“In this regard, we can be categorical, without any further delay, that the ruling class political parties and alliances have criminally, and consistently, breached these sections of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria” Prof. Olorode explains.