Osibanjo charges union never to lose oneness

From Adanna Nnamani, Abuja

The President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), on Tuesday, decried the level of hardship workers and Nigerians are experiencing in the country due to scarcity of the naira and petrol.

Wabba noted that the NLC was restraining itself from taking drastic steps that may sabotage the February 2023 general elections.

The labour leader spoke at the Congress’s 13th National Delegates’ Conference held at the International Conference Centre, Abuja.

According to him, “this conference is taking place at a time when many Nigerians and workers are being pushed to the wall or into chaotic situations in our banks and filling stations. Nigerians are queuing up endlessly to assess the new currency notes and PMS. This is certainly not acceptable, and it is condemnable.

“We have more than enough to actually address those two issues. First, we are a major oil-producing country. And therefore we are the only country in the world that is a member of OPEC that still depends on importation. Secondly, we don’t understand the rationale that you lodge your money in your bank account and you are limited from withdrawing what you want to use. No economy in the world has practised this economic model. People forget that our economy is rural and informal, and therefore people need to transact business in cash. Go to our local markets, our commodity markets, you will see people transacting business actually in cash. These policies if not addressed within the shortest possible time, nobody can predict what will be the outcome. Yesterday, I trekked until almost midnight. I went actually to get some funds in the POS. All the ATMs in area eleven were not dispensing. We have seen a situation where people are protesting in banks. They want to access their money, yet they can’t access the money. There is a theory that possibly we’re also working towards making sure that the forthcoming election does not take place in an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity. And that’s why Labour had restrained itself to make sure that we’re able to have a peaceful transition.

He called for swift intervention to address the situation, lamenting that those living in cities such as Abuja are now forced to send money from their limited funds to friends and relations in the villages.

The vice-president of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osibanjo, in his remarks at the occasion, commended the Union for remaining resolute and united in its struggles, stating that politicians banking on feeding on the people’s division were living in the past.

“The NLC is a key stakeholder in our quest for national progress and I believe that it deserves commendation for maintaining this tradition of hosting the delegate’s conference over the years, and taking on the complex plethora of issues that would shape the future that we want for ourselves, our children and for the coming generations.

“This is one of the reasons why the NLC is such an important institution. It is precisely because your members are united by shared vocations as working-class Nigerians, an occupational identity that cuts across lines of the ethnicity of religion and gender. The Congress is a veritable Pan-Nigerian institution. This is a critical edge that the NLC must not lose. The fact is that despite the busy rhetoric of demagogues, and the utterances of those who profit from disharmony, Nigerians do not hate each other. Every day, millions of Nigerians are united by their common causes and problems and common issues. That’s a common cause and forge friendships across several fault lines, departments or businesses to engage in philanthropy, and to advance their political goals. They are trading, intermarrying, and migrating across this guidance to better livelihoods, in our markets in our motor parks. In Nigeria, identity has emerged that transcends ethnicity and religion. Politicians, who continue to traffic it in division and discord are behind the times and have failed to take note of how much more integrated our society has become. I submit to you that it is the elite of our leisure that must adjust themselves to this reality accordingly. We are obviously not as united as we shouldn’t be, but national integration is a journey. And we’re further along that journey.”

He further urged the union to assist in the mobilisation of citizens to obtain their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) to vote in the on-coming election.