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REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT OF NIGERIA LABOUR CONGRESS, COMRADE AYUBA WABBA, mni, AT THE ROUNDTABLE ON THE 40TH ANNIVERSARY OF SOWETO UPRISING HOLDING AT THE TRANSCORP HILTON HOTEL,
25-Jul-2016


REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT OF NIGERIA LABOUR CONGRESS, COMRADE AYUBA WABBA, mni, AT THE ROUNDTABLE ON THE 40TH ANNIVERSARY OF SOWETO UPRISING HOLDING AT THE TRANSCORP HILTON HOTEL, ABUJA ON 19TH JULY 2016 Protocols On behalf of the Leadership and Membership of the Nigeria Labour Congress, I bring warm fraternal greetings to this landmark occasion to mark the 40th anniversary of the Soweto uprising which took place on June 16, 1976. Those protests organised and led by young school children against the introduction of one of the most discriminative racist policies of the defunct apartheid regime, which sought not only to alienate black South Africans from accesing quality facilities but destroy their future by ensuring they never enjoyed quality education that gives them equal opportunities in the employment space globally, opened a smashing breakthrough for the anti-apartheid struggle and eventually increased the tempo of the global struggle against the system leading to the victory of the people. Indeed the struggle for the decolonialization and liberation of the Southern Africa sub-region was one area that Nigerians of all persuasions have high level of agreement with successive Nigerian governments, that played front line role in the struggle to free the sub-region. At the height of the mobilization of our people to support the struggle, the NLC served on the Federal Government National Committee Against Apartheid (NACAP), and played active role in the Southern Africa Relief Fund (SARF). We wish to use the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the students uprising against Apartheid Educational System in the then Apartheid enclave to pay tribute to the heroic contributions and sacrifice of the South African Youth to the cause of the emancipation of South Africa from the crutches of Apartheid. That South Africa is a liberated country today is a major credit to the struggles of the 1976 students who harnessed their young energies to organise one of the most massive and successful protests against apartheid. The students protest of 16 June 1976 re-echoed across the world, mobilising governments and people against one of the world's most dreaded inhuman systems leading to stiffer sanctions, global alienation and ultimately quickened the collapse of the apartheid system. Nigerians, if we must be reminded, were not left out of the struggle as we as a people, together with our government and organisations, especially the Nigeria Labour Congress played active roles in mass protests as well as local and international lobbies to ensure the regime is brought to its knees. We mobilised our allies in the students movement, markets, peasants and other mass based organisations of our people in protests against the regime and their supporters. We recall the protest organised by us, in partnership with the National Association of Nigerian Students, the Nigeria-African National Congress Friendship and Cultural Association, the Women In Nigeria, Youth Solidarity on Southern Africa and Nigeria among several others to picket the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos to against the visit of one of the best darlings of and advocate of global supports for the apartheid regime, Prime Minister Margret Thatcher of United Kingdom in 1988. The protest reverberated across the globe and of course enhanced the position of our regional bodies such as the defunct Organisation of African Unity and the Economic Commission of West African States against the apartheid regime. We all saw the struggle against apartheid as our struggle and not the struggle of the South African people alone. And we committed our collective energies and resources to that struggle, exerting strong pressure on our government to take stronger positions against apartheid even if it meant the government had to be labelled extremists by friends of apartheid. Today, as we commemorate the 1976 breakthrough as we chose to describe the Soweto Uprising, we recall that the sacrifice made by all those who participated in that protest was one that will remain historical in the memories of everyone, not just the South Africans, but all those who believe in the potency of struggle as the only weapon to win victories. Though, several hundreds of the students were mindlessly murdered by the apartheid police but today we recall that the deaths of those young students further accelerated the death of the apartheid regime as more sanctions, international political alienations, internal instability and economic crunch were unleashed on the regime while the liberation movement got stronger and fought harder until victory. While we applaud the post liberation regime for recognising the roles played by the class of 1976 by declaring 16th June of every year a Youth Day, we urge the South African government to refocus its policies much more on youth empowerment through job creation, access to education and industry. With less number of young people in the unemployment arena, those who laid their lives in 1976 would have been better honoured as the defeat of the apartheid regime had greater contributions from the youth. Comrades, ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the Nigeria Labour Congress, I wish to assure all South Africans that we will continue to relate with them in any ways that will deepen the liberation as we already have a bilateral agreement with our counterpart labour centre, the Congress of South African Trade Unions, the second largest labour centre in Africa, after the NLC. Under the auspices of the bilateral, we will continue exchange views on how both countries can progress without our governments hanging onto neo liberal institutions which seem determined to decimate our collective determinations to develop beyond the expectations of these institutions. We must continue to exert pressures on our governments to develop home grown development policies that are people focused and driven; harnessing our abundant human and material resources to occupy global markets in the collective interests of our people rather than accept policies originating from outside our boundaries targetted mainly to exploit us and ferry out profits that can lift the continent out of our present underdevelopment status. For us, we believe with the might of the people, we are capable of owning our governments and reclaiming our collective resources. The poverty level of our people cannot be compared with those of the originating countries of neo liberalism and therefore, accepting the privatisation of public institutions, services and corporations will further ensure majority of our people are denied access to institutions and services that guarrantees good living conditions. We are united with the South African workers and their unions that we must step up campaigns against neo liberal economic policies, which in itself is against the spirit of national liberation, which the South African people, particularly the ruling African National Congress and their allies adopted as the present stage of the struggle for liberation. This stage cannot be pursued alongside neo liberalism. Comrades, ladies and gentlemen, we appreciate our relationship with the South African people and we will continue to build on this through our bilateral with COSATU because what is between us is deeper than what can set us apart. Our relationship is historical and we can only deepen it. Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, let me conclude this address by restating the commonly known fact that our continent can do much better in terms of virtually all indicators of good governance and delivery of social services to its people. The teeming millions of youth unemployment, millions of youth out of formal educational institutions, huge poverty all over, and the gaping insecurity around many parts of our continent are urgent social crises that our leaders must strategize and come up with urgent solutions to address them now. Thank you for your attention. Comrade Ayuba Wabba, mni. President .

 

 


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