2020 Christmas Greetings from the Nigeria Labour Congress

On behalf of the National Executive Council of the Nigeria Labour Congress, I convey to all Nigerian workers, pensioners and people very warm 2020 Christmas greetings and felicitations.

This year’s celebration of the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ comes at a very trying time in the world. The advent of the novel corona virus (COVID-19) pandemic and the great dislocation, despair and distress occasioned by the global health insurgency and various other forms of socio-economic upheavals make this Christmas something to look forward to as a source of hope, inspiration and comfort.

This is especially so given that the birth of Jesus Christ was not in the best of conditions. The Saviour had to be born in a manger because there was no decent accommodation to receive his birth. Yet, the circumstances of His birth did not stop the child from growing in wisdom, in stature and in favour with God and man and ultimately becoming the source of salvation for those who believe in Him.

We believe that the current vicissitudes that punctuated the year 2020 will give rise to a better and brighter 2021. The Saviour did not remain in the manger. He also rode triumphantly to Jerusalem. We believe that the afflictions of the Year 2020 will soon give way to glorious triumph for Nigerian workers, their families and indeed for the Nigerian nation. This is the message of Christmas. A message of Hope and Triumph.

As we bask in the hope that Christmas brings, we also remind ourselves that we have our role to play. Indeed, Nigerian workers can only remind ourselves of our roles in birthing the desired hope for the future because we had discharged our roles in 2020 with great gusto, panache and unrivalled commitment. In the midst of a devastating COVID-19 pandemic, the application of Nigerian frontline workers to their duties was the difference in deaths in millions, as predicted in some parts of the world, and deaths in hundreds as we have been able to curtail the effect and impact of the landfall of the novel corona virus on our shores.

We take this moment to salute the efforts and sacrifice of our frontline workers including our healthcare workers, road transport workers, aviation workers, maritime workers, sanitation workers, agriculture workers, journalists, informal sector workers, and even our security personnel for leading the rest of us in the great battle against the menace of COVID-19. We also use this occasion to honour the memory and work of workers who paid the supreme price in the line of fire fighting the escalation of COVID-19. Your death will not be in vain.

We can make the sacrifice of our fallen heroes count as we renew our commitment to stopping the unrelenting virus even as it threatens a second global wave. We honour the memory of workers who gave their lives so we live when we maintain and improve on the health protocols that can help keep us, our families, our friends, and our colleagues safe.

The temptation to throw caution to the winds will be rife this festive season. Comrades and compatriots, I appeal that this is not the time to be complacent. COVID-19 is real. The second wave of the deadly virus is palpable. We can mitigate against its impact if we observe all the necessary health protocols – wash our hands always with soap and running water, use hand sanitizers all the time, keep social distancing, wear mask when in public places, report any sign of COVID-19 to designated health authorities and submit to treatment once diagnosed.

The news of the availability of a vaccine for COVID-19 is a special gift of Christmas. As medical experts confirm the potency and safety of the vaccine, we urge the international health community to develop a pro-poor vaccine that will not dig further holes in the pockets of poor countries and poor people of the world. A more virulent pandemic would be for Organized Capital to commoditize and commercialize COVID-19 vaccine out of the reach of billions who need it desperately. Such would be antithetical to the spirit and message of Christmas.

Nigerians especially workers have suffered a lot of downturns and reversals this year. While the minimum wage remained constant, fuel and electricity prices have been arbitrarily increased inducing a galloping inflation. Government must steer away from making workers’ burden an ounce more grievous. This will be resisted. Workers cannot be the cannon fodder for the misgovernance of successive years.

While we encourage workers to adhere to health safety protocols as issued by relevant authorities coordinating the national effort against COVID-19, we call on government to balance the options of another lockdown with its capacity to live up to its responsibility of catering to the welfare of workers and citizens that such lockdown would rob of their means of livelihood. The public tumults linked to the last lockdown instruct that compassion, consultation and communication must lead.

This Christmas, love must lead. Amidst the differences in our breed and creed and the inconveniences that came with the upheavals of 2020, we must find opportunities to show love to our neighbours, family, friends, strangers and especially the less fortunate in our midst. Christmas is a season to share. We must remember the orphans, the widows, the refugees, the vulnerable and the destitute in their afflictions and share with them. That way we will be doing real honour to the One whose birth brings joy, peace and goodwill to all.

Once again, I wish all of us a Happy Christmas and a Prosperous 2021!

Comrade Ayuba Wabba, mni
25th December 2020

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