By Joan Nwagwu
Abuja, June 28, 2022
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) have pledged to support campaign to ensure that the Labour Party candidate, Mr. Peter Obi emerges winner in the 2023 presidential election.
The leadership of the NLC and TUC made the pledge in separate addresses on Tuesday in Abuja.
The NLC President, Mr. Ayuba Wabba spoke during the 10th Memorial Lecture in honour of late Pascal Bafyau.
Wabba described Obi as one among the finest Nigerians and the first presidential candidate of Labour Party to be recognised by the labour centre.
According to Wabba, NLC is solidly behind Labour Party and will fully mobilise to ensure the victory of the party come 2023 general elections.
He said that workers’ unions had realised that strikes and protests alone could not change the narratives in Nigeria, especially in regard to workers welfare and fair treatment of the working peoples.
According to him, hence labour must venture fully into politics and work hard to support candidates whose mantra will make life better for their members and Nigerians at large.
On his part, TUC president, Mr. Quadri Olaleye, said that “Obi is a face among the presidential candidates that all labour unions are pleased with and are ready to work with.”
According to Olaleye, the entire labour movement has accepted, adopted and will support, and ensure workers massively vote for him in the 2023 presidential elections.
“The Labour Party is stronger, one and formidable and the party has a widespread structure, as there is a worker and a member of either TUC and NLC in every family across Nigeria.
He insisted that Labour Party “is the only party for Nigerian workers.”
In his address, Mr. Peter Obi said his visit to the leadership of the two labour centres was not to campaign but for a courtesy call to honour the Organised Labour on whose platform, party and interest he was seeking Nigerians’ votes in the 2023 general elections.
“My commitment is to move Nigeria from consumption to production and you cannot talk about production without labour.
“Labour is the engine of production, capital and machine can do anything, but labour is what makes it work.
“Because labour is the greatest contributor to production, it has to be properly remunerated.
“I do not need to tell you how bad things are in this country today. if you are on wages, today Nigerians spend 100 per cent of their wages on just feeding.
“So many don’t even know where their next meal will come from. They pay to train their children only for them to finish school and stay at home without work,” he said.
Obi said that these were issues that needed to be discussed.
“Nobody can be president without sitting down with labour organisations to decide the future of Nigeria,” he stressed.
He said that Nigerians would no longer have a situation where the leaders would be here and workers would be there.
“They must sit on the same table and talk.”
According to him, that is the beginning of the solution, that is what is happening all over the world.
“Nigeria is not a producing country. The collective effect of what we are suffering today is bad leadership.
“We have a leadership that concentrates on sharing. So you have to move from sharing formula to production formula.
“This is a country of 200 million people sitting on 923,000 square kilometers of land. They cannot feed themselves, they cannot export anything. Total Nigeria’s export including oil is under two billion dollars for 200 million population.
“A similar country, not a first world country, one with the same trajectory with Nigeria in the year 2000, Vietnam, sitting on 331,000 square kilometers of land, a third of Nigeria’s land space and 100 million population, half of Nigeria’s population, their total earnings last year was 312 billion dollars,” he said.
Obi, however, noted that more than half of the country’s youths of productive age were unemployed, adding “this is what the Labour Party is seeking to sit down to discuss for the future of our country.”
He said that borrowing was not the problem of the country as other countries were also borrowing to support their economic development drive.
“If you borrow for consumption, you are in problem but if you borrow for production, you will progress.”