Sunday, May 28, 2017 3:45 pm
By Ayuba Wabba
Being text of the goodwill message of the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, mni, on the occasion of the celebration of Democracy Day in Nigeria , May 29th 2017.
Normally we have over the years refrained from issuing statements to commemorate May 29, which former President Obasanjo christened Democracy Day, marking the day the military handed over power to a democratically elected government in 1999. This is because at the beginning of May (MAY1) every year, we use the occasion of May Day to make wide ranging assessment of the State of the Nation and the expectations of Nigerian workers.
This year, we have decided to break from the tradition and address an issue which came to light recently. The Chief of Army Staff, Lt-General Tukur Burutai, recently told Nigerians that he had gotten “information that individuals have been approaching some officers and soldiers for undisclosed political reasons”.
This thinly veiled statement has been decoded in plain language to mean that some politicians and non-military persons have been approaching military officers to organize a military coup to truncate the current democratic dispensation.
The Nigeria Labour Congress wishes to state in the strongest possible tone that it is categorically opposed to any further military adventurism in the body politics of our nation. The damage military incursion into Nigeria’s political arena did over the decades it imposed itself on the people is largely responsible for the underdevelopment of our political culture almost six decades after attaining political independence.
The damage military rule caused our nation is not only in the realm of our political culture, it deepened and virtually institutionalized corruption in all segments of our national life. As some commentators have pointed to the fact that a number of our past military rulers are stupendously rich is a testimony that they indeed appropriated our commonwealth for their individual pockets at the expense of the vast majority of our people. The on-going revelations in the various probes of the military top brass again rubbishes any talk about the illusion of the incorruptibility of the military.
We call on the Chief of Army Staff to go beyond just informing Nigerians and cautioning those trying to derail our democracy to desist from it. Rather, the armed forces should at the appropriate time after concluding its investigation, identify the individuals involved, prosecute them in the relevant courts, and if found guilty given the appropriate punishments as deterrent to potentially ambitious adventurers.
We call on elected public office holders at all levels of our governance architecture: from local government, to state and federal governments to rededicate themselves and work to make the benefits of our democracy, what we in Nigeria call the dividends of democracy to reach the masses of our population.
We wish to conclude this brief statement with a caution to the federal government on the pending issue of our demand for the review of the National Minimum Wage.
As workers, after over six years of the last salary increment which brought the national minimum wage to N18,000, with the excruciating suffering of our members as a result of galloping inflation caused by the massive increase in the price of petrol, and the massive devaluation of the Naira, our patience has been tested to the limit.
We therefore urge the federal government to use the occasion of the Democracy Day to announce the composition of the tripartite negotiation committee so that we can negotiate and have a living wage as minimum wage.
Happy Democracy Day!
Comrade Ayuba Wabba, mni. is the NLC President