2022 Independence Day Goodwill Message by the President of the
Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, mni

A Press Release

On behalf of the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), we extend very warm Independence Felicitations to all Nigerian workers, our fellow compatriots – citizens of our great country, our allies in the Civil Society movement, the Labour Party, employers of labour and the political leadership of our great country as we celebrate the 62nd Independence of our great motherland.

It is not out of place for many Nigerians to wonder why we would be celebrating another Independence of our great country in the midst of very serious developmental challenges such as hyper-inflation, heightened insecurity, and the reverberations of the rhymes of disunity especially as we approach a general election in 2023.
Despite the mounting challenges, we do not only celebrate epochal moments such as the political Independence of our country in light of present afflictions but in reminisce of the giant footprints of our forebears, heroes of our liberation from colonial rule and great men and women particularly workers whose sweat and blood provided us a basis for a dream of a great Nigeria – a dream that will never die.
Dear Nigerian workers and compatriots, it is to this dream that we must address our minds on an occasion as the celebration of our 62nd national independence. The truth is that however dark the night is, the day will surely break. Organized Labour has no doubt that Nigeria’s daybreak is just ahead of us. We say so because the dream of a great Nigeria which is beating heavily on our chest will never die.

There is no demography that has passionately carried forward the dreams of a great Nigeria than the workforce. The working people of Nigeria have refused to give up on their dreams for a better and greater country. This is the reason most of our talented and dedicated workers have refused to leave the country despite the allures of better pay and living conditions abroad. It is this bright dream that has kept many of our health workers in Nigeria despite the fact that their counterparts earn a fortune, but they have decided to stay here and continue serving their fellow compatriots.
Many of our lecturers and other university workers whose services are highly sought after outside the shores of our country have remained here despite several disappointments from the system because the Nigerian dream still beats in their hearts. The same goes for our primary and secondary school teachers, our pilots, our farmers, our traders, our artisans, our engineers, our surveyors, our lawyers, our civil servants, our armed services personnel.

We can say the same for our resilient youth who have refused to join the outbound caravan in search of greener pastures. Instead of leaving, our young people have taken seriously the dream of a greater country. This is the reason they have dared fear in this season of political contestation. They are asking the right questions. They are making effective demands. They have taken their own destiny. They said they are not giving or accepting “shishii”. They say they are marching the path trod by our heroes past who delivered the Independence we are celebrating today. Nigerian youths have led the way in showing us that the politics that will deliver the Nigeria of our dream is the type that must transcend religious and ethnic bias.

The Nigeria of our dream is a Nigeria where university students will not stay at home for seven months simply because elected public officials prefer to send their kids abroad and forget the kids of workers and the poor at home. The Nigeria of our dreams is a Nigeria where government will not allow citizens on board its own train services to be killed, maimed, kidnapped, and brutalized in the bush nearly seven months now and government appears helpless.

The Nigeria of our dreams is a country where infrastructure works – where there is adequate electricity to power the potentials of our youths and working people of our country – where public schools and public hospitals are mostly free, affordable, and efficient.

The Nigeria of our dream is where workers are paid living wages and earn decent minimum wages without having to negotiate endlessly with government and subsequently when eventually negotiated fight state Governors for months on end for the minimum wage to hit workers’ bank accounts. The Nigeria of our dream is a country where government takes its role as the moral compass of society seriously and so do not threaten workers with “no work… no pay” and still expect workers to abdicate their right to “no pay… no work”.

The Nigeria of our dream is a country where our pensioners are paid their entitlements as and at when due without needing to be subjected to the humiliation of queuing up hours on end. Our dream country is workers are paid their gratuity immediately they disengage from public service and are not made to wait endlessly by self-serving elected public officials who award underserving pension and other eye-watering severance packages which are usually delivered upfront even before they leave public office.

The Nigeria our heart yearns for is a country where Production Economy replaces Consumption Economy – where our factories and agricultural plantations are revitalized and where our young people can find gainful jobs. It is a country where public refineries work and where mass importation of refined petroleum products with all the severe socio-economic dislocations is made a thing of the past.
Our dream Nigeria shows the way by using continental and global instruments such as African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to inspire other African countries that an socio-economically emancipated Africa is possible.

The Nigeria of our dream is a country that works for everyone – where there is the rule of law, where every citizen has a sense of belonging wherever they are and do not need to live in perpetual fear of lurking evil. It is a country where our women are free from every form of mental and physical harassment and violence.

Our dream Nigeria is a country where there are actual and affordable public services and infrastructure including well maintained roads with decent drainages, potable public water supply, and a clean environment. Our dream country is a country where public transport works. It is a country where there is zero tolerance for out-of-school children and where no mother needs to die trying to give life.

Like the mice asked themselves “who will bell the cats?” At this 62nd Independence commemorations, we ask the Nigerian political class “who will deliver the Nigeria of our dream?” We ask those seeking elective political offices in the 2023 general elections “what are your plans for the Nigeria of our dream?” especially as have been elaborately captured in the Nigerian Workers Charter of Demands.

As we commence active political campaigns for the 2023 general elections, we urge our compatriots, our youths, our women, and our workers to ask our politicians how they plan to take the Nigeria of our dreams from our hearts and put it in our workplaces, our paychecks, our homes, our legal instruments, our schools, our hospitals, our roads, rails, inland waterways, our courts, and our shared spaces.
We must do ourselves the justice of a lifetime by voting into political power only credible candidates who assure us by their sterling antecedents, attributes, attitudes and aptitude that our collective dreams of a great, prosperous and united Nigeria will never die.

Comrade Ayuba Wabba, mni
30th September 2022

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