The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, kick started a three day activities to mark her 40th Anniversary as a Labour movement.
All living past NLC Presidents were at the function taking place in Abuja, Nigeria’s Capital.
Taking the podium, former President of the Congress, Adams Oshomole who is also the Chairperson of the day, said that the NLC has every reason to be happy with itself and celebrate its existence for the past 40 years.
He singled out the pioneer President, Alhaji Hassan Sumonu, who he said that but for the solid foundation he laid, NLC and indeed the Labour movement in Nigeria would not be where it is today.
Speaking on the seemingly delay in the emergence of a new National minimum wage in the country, Oshomole insisted that what determines the quality of workers is not only the wages, but that trust in the leadership that their interest is protected at all time.
He called on the leadership of the NLC and other labour movements in Nigeria to not only improve on the skills of negotiation but also strike to acquire political power.
Incumbent NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba in a key note address, said that the NLC hopes to use the occasion of the anniversary to engage in self examination of the past, the present and project into the future.
“We therefore hope to use this occasion to engage in self-examination of the past, the present and try to project into the future. We need to celebrate our modest achievements and learn from our mistakes. We need to know if we have adhered to or deviated from the fundamental principles of our organisation. In celebrating these achievements, we need to think of ways of reinvigorating, revitalizing and transforming the organisation to a formidable worker that can stand the test of time”, Wabba said.
He traced the history of NLC to 1974 following the Apena Cementary Declaration where the leaders of the then four labour federations agreed to buy their political and ideological differences in favour of the formation of a united labour Organisation called the Nigeria Labour Congress NLC.
According to Wabba, “the understanding was implemented in 1975. But this development in the labour movement ran counter to the thinking of the then military regime of General Murtala Mohammed who became uncomfortable with the remarkable achievement of the movement for the amiable resolution of differences within the working class movement. This auto-transformation of the movement outside the framework of government meant the growth of an organisation which she will not be able to control”.
“Since our formation in 1973, we believe that the NLC has lived up to its mandate as a trade movement which is, the protection and defense of its members. We have also tried to play the role of an advocate for Nigerians who demand that the economy of the country is operated and that politics is designed and practiced on order to contribute to the development of the country and its citizens. Our struggles have been shaped by the following factors:
- The realisation that political independence hasn’t delivered the expected gains Nigerians were yearning for;
- The continued division within the political and economic elite in the country which has delayed national development and harmed the material condition of citizens;
- Massive looting of state resources by the political elite and its deployment into personal consumption as well as hiding the balances in secret locations around the world; and
- The absence of formidable opposition political parties increasingly draw the labour movement into contentious battles with the states and capital”, the NLC President said.
The announcement by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige that the Federal Government will announce a new National minimum wage in the fourth quarter of the year received applauds and mixed feelings and some participants say the new wage should come earlier than the announcement time frame.