Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, has said frustration and hopelessness now pervades the nation as the country marks 61 years of Independence on October 1.
In a statement to mark Nigeria’s Independence Anniversary, titled: “Nigeria at 61: Let us resume our march to greatness”, President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba, lamented that the symptoms of the break in Nigeria’s “progress march stare us hard in the face. Our deterioration has come so fast and furious that we have inadvertently surrendered our will and space for development to very unreasonable, violent and destructive non-state actors who have not only become a law to themselves but are trying to impose their regime of lawlessness on all of us.”
Among others, the statement said “There is no gainsaying the contribution of Nigeria’s working class to national development, peace and unity. On this commemoration of another independence anniversary, we recall and honour the selfless efforts of heroes and heroines past and present – Nigerian workers, our pensioners including ex-servicemen and women, members of the armed services, our women, our youths, and Nigerian children.
“Upon the attainment of independence sixty-one years ago, a lot was expected of the country that hosts the largest population of black people on the planet. It was on the strength of that hope that Nigeria shortly after Independence became the pilgrimage destination for many development minded world leaders including the famed Lee Kuan Yew of the Singapore phenomenal transformation.
“Sixty-one years ago, Nigeria was certainly on a march to greatness. In every part of the country, there was a manifest gush of hope, faith, energy and commitment in the stride of most Nigerians as our compatriots strove to prove a point that independence was not a fluke – that indeed we could do better than the white colonial administrators.
“ Indeed, we sure made such a huge progress in those initial years of our national life. Those were the days of the famed groundnut pyramid in Kano, palm oil plantations in the Eastern region, the rubber estates in the Mid-West and the cocoa fields in Southwestern Nigeria. Life was indeed safe, secured and abundant!
“Then, politics happened. Instead of building on the zeal and energy of Nigerian workers and people to redeem the image of the black race which was badly mauled by slave trade and colonization, our political leaders shifted their eyes from the dreams of a great country and became fixated with the delusion of personal conquests through primitive accumulation of wealth aided by a deliberate divide and rule politics. Till today, after many successive governments, our country is yet to recover from the tsunami of ethno-religious politics, values disorientation, and the weakening of unifying institutions.
“The symptoms of the break in our progress march stare us hard in the face. Our deterioration has come so fast and furious that we have inadvertently surrendered our will and space for development to very unreasonable, violent and destructive non-state actors who have not only become a law to themselves but are trying to impose their regime of lawlessness on all of us. Today, millions of Nigerians are almost accepting life as internally displaced persons as normal. Today, many Nigerians would rather die at home than incur humungous hospital bills for surviving family members while wasting to a slow but certain death in our dilapidated public health facilities.
“Unemployment especially among our teeming youth has risen to unprecedented levels and the youths are no longer willing to wait for jobs that are nowhere. The frustration and despondency of our youths is at the root of the numerous ills and crimes prevalent in different parts of the country. When we paused the march to human capital optimization, industrialization, food sufficiency, and egalitarianism, what were we expecting? Even the blind and the deaf now know that the chicken has come home to roost.
“It is time to own up to the truth of our self-inflicted pains and examine closely where we lost it as a nation. It is not too late to resume our paused march to greatness. We can still become that country that accords the pride of place to truth, productivity, hard work, excellence, integrity, patriotism, service and sacrifice.
“We can still create industries for our teeming youths to gain decent jobs. We can still provide the excellent infrastructure that inspires inclusive economic growth. We can still foster an atmosphere of rule of law, equity, social justice, peace, law and order as a sustainable cure for the deregulated crises of violence in many parts of Nigeria. We can still regain our humanity of love and care for workers and pensioners.
“The rest of the African continent waits for us. The entire black race believes that our renaissance as a country will be their redemption. We must not keep them all waiting for too long. We must now come to the party and take our high chair in the comity of nations.
As we march at different parade grounds this Independence Day, we all, political leaders, workers, employers of labour, clerics, community leaders, women, youth and children must all be mindful of the most important march – the resumption of our march as country to greatness. Let’s release the pause button. Let the march to true national greatness begin.”