The organised labour under the auspices of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has advised Nigerian workers to identify with candidates who demonstrate commitment to lifting the country out of the economic downturns marked by soaring inflation, widespread insecurity and deepening poverty.
This is coming as the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige has said that the present hardship in the country is giving President Muhammadu Buhari sleepless nights.
NLC also urged the Nigerian workers and people to resonate in the light of hope birthed by the love of God conveyed through the birth of His son Jesus Christ at Christmas and use that as a motivation to work and restore hope for Nigeria during the 2023 general election.
In his 2022 Christmas message, the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, said Nigerians especially workers should be very deliberate in their engagement with the political process come 2023.
“After this Christmas, the next major event that will face us as a country will be the 2023 general election. There is no bigger harbinger of hope than the opportunity to select a fresh set of political leaders.
“Political leadership is the match that lights the torch of hope. Every country would rise and fall with its choice of political leadership. Nigeria is no exception.
“We urge our compatriots, especially workers to be very deliberate in their engagement with the political process come 2023. Elections are the time to ask critical questions and make rational choices.
“Workers must identify with political party candidates who demonstrate commitment to lighting up the end of the tunnels of economic downturns marked by soaring inflation, widespread insecurity, deepening poverty, escalating crises of unemployment, especially among the youth demography of our country, decadent physical infrastructure, and brazen corruption in high places.
“We urge Nigerians to rise to the challenge using the 2023 general poll as an enabling platform to elect a political leadership that is conscientious, prudent, and completely obedient to our demands as a people. 2023 is our torch of hope! This torch must not be wasted,” he said.
Wabba said the NLC has turned up a flicker of light in directing the political energy of Nigeria’s working class and ordinary people by developing a Nigerian workers’ charter of demands.
According to Wabba, the Nigerian workers’ charter of demands has identified poor salaries, abysmal working conditions and horrendous living realities as a major clog in the wheel of optimum national development, dearth of adequate education and healthcare facilities and poor motivation of workers as key issues that must be addressed by the next government.
Wabba said the NLC considered it shameful for Nigeria as the sixth largest producer of crude oil in the world and the largest exporter of crude oil in Africa to be importing petroleum products.
In addition, NLC said it was unfortunate that the money the government claims to spend on subsidising refined petroleum products imported into Nigeria can rehabilitate the refineries and build new ones.
It said: “The same culture of indifference to value addition is palpable in our agriculture sector where most of our cash crops and farm produce are shipped overseas in their very raw form and at dirt cheap prices.
“These products are later processed and imported as semi-finished or finished goods at huge prices. This is how our country has embraced the darkness of being a net exporter of jobs and a net importer of unemployment,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Ngige, has said that the present hardship in the country is giving President Buhari sleepless nights.
He, however, promised that efforts were in top gear to lift the lot of the Nigerian workers and bring joy to them before the transition to the next government.
In his Christmas Message to Nigerian workers, Ngige urged them to pray for another President that would sustain the labour-friendly legacy of the Buhari administration.
Senator Ngige charged wealthy Christians to remember the poor while celebrating Christmas.
He urged Christians to sustain hope which the birth of Christ signifies beyond the yuletide celebrations, saying the lessons must not die once the jingle bell is over.
Ngige described the remembrance of the birth of Jesus Christ as the most powerful message of hope, which brought liberation for mankind and urged Christians to find in it, a source of succour amidst socio-economic and security challenges facing the nation.
Quoting Pope Francis in La Croix International, Ngige added, “God may not take away insecurity and unpredictability that breed fear and anxiety, but share our experience of them. He offers a promise that all will be well.”