By Sanni Onogu and Jide Orintunsin, Abuja
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar on Friday lamented what he called the persistent and frightening economic decimation of the Nigerian working class in the face of appalling inflation and declining living standards.
He described the conditions of Nigerian workers as worrisome in a hostile economic environment like Nigeria; a situation he said makes saving and survival almost impossible.
His views were contained in a statement he issued to salute workers on the occasion of this year’s Workers’ Day.
According to him, “even what we call basic food items are unaffordable, and we are in a situation where the price of a bag of rice is nearly at par with the value of our minimum wage.”
The former Vice President added that the “increase in the national minimum wage has been matched or neutralised by astronomical inflation that is accelerating at a breathtaking pace almost daily. Even the locally produced foods are prohibitively expensive.”
“The Nigerian workers have never had it so bad. The impacts of the lockdown and worsening inflation have taken their heaviest toll on the working class. The situation is so bad that they are now living from hands to mouth.”
The Wazirin Adamawa also explained that in the face of low morale and poor motivation, productivity will inevitably take a nose dive.
”This situation”, he said, “will only create favourable conditions for corruption and aggravate depression and mental health problems among civil servants.”
”Let me be clear: these challenges of economic survival are not limited to the civil servants alone. They affect the working class at all levels, including artisans and other low income groups that are struggling desperately to put food on the table in the face of declining incomes and rising inflation,” the former Vice President added.
He suggested that in the face of widespread extreme poverty and declining incomes among the economically vulnerable Nigerians, political office holders should urgently review the cost of governance in order to bring them in line with our economic realities and the sorry conditions of average citizens.
In his own message to workers, the Senate President Ahmad Lawan, in a statement signed by his Special Adviser (Media), Ola Awoniyi, in Abuja, urged the organised labour to always look at the larger picture and consider higher national interest in their responses to government policies and actions.
Lawan said: “I felicitate with the Nigerian workers on this occasion of the Worker’s Day of International Solidarity and Unity.
“The Nigerian Labour Movement has a proud heritage beginning from the heroic contributions of its founding fathers like Pa Michael Imodu and his contemporaries in the struggle for the independence of Nigeria and emancipation of workers and the masses.
“The Nigerian workers across the generations since then have continued to drive economic productivity, nation-building and democratic governance in the country.
“I commend their patience, understanding and also their resilience in the face of the current challenges that our nation is facing.
“The National Assembly believes in the well-being and welfare of the workers and will always provide legislative support for every effort to tackle their challenges and improve the work environment.
“I assure you of the resolute commitment of the Ninth Senate to its mantra of “Work for Nigeria.”
“By this, we will continue to stand by the Nigerian workers to rid our statute books of anti-labour laws and promote legislations that will make our society a better place for the working people.” Lawan said.
Glo extols public, private sector workers
Telecommunications service provider, Globacom, extolled the doggedness and perseverance of Nigerian workers amidst local and global economic realities confronting them.
In a statement issued in Lagos to felicitate with public and private sector workforce on May Day, Globacom described Nigerian workers as “the most resilient in the world,” noting that they have shown exceptional dedication in difficult times.
The statement added: “Globacom congratulates Nigerian workers as they join their counterparts all over the world to mark another Workers’ Day.
“Their commitment to nation building and their resilience over the years is well appreciated.
“We salute their dedication and uncommon courage and wish to use the occasion of the Workers’ Day celebration to urge them to rededicate themselves to the social and economic development of the country.”
It called on workers to remain dedicated to duty and strive for excellence in the work place, as well as to continue to contribute towards building a strong work culture that will help Nigeria achieve its dream of being an industrialised and prosperous nation.
The telecommunication company encouraged Nigerian workers to remain committed to the noble cause of building a strong, virile and prosperous nation, adding that it was convinced that the challenging times being experienced globally and particularly in Nigeria would soon be over.
APC eulogises workers for patriotic zeal
In a statement by the party’s Secretary, Caretaker Extra-Ordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), Senator John James Akpanudoedehe, in Abuja yesterday, the party commended the organised labour for shunning unpatriotic influences in the course of agitation for workers’ welfare.
Commending the patriotic zeal of the organised labour, the party said: “From the administration’s several social investment programmes targeted at citizens living on the margin to the Economic Sustainability Plan which fast-tracked the country’s recovery from recession and cushioned the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Nigerian workers are key partners and are playing important roles in ensuring the administration’s successful implementation of these programmes and many more.
“In line with our election promises to Nigerian workers, the President Buhari administration successfully implemented the improved minimum wage and has embarked on a mass housing programme benefitting thousands. This government’s commitment to the welfare of Nigerian workers is tested and proven. We will do more.
“As the President Buhari government implements quick and permanent strategies to check cases of insecurity, we assure workers and indeed all Nigerians of the government’s resolve to protect the lives and property of all.
“While the APC seeks the patience and cooperation of Nigerian workers, we call for greater patriotism from everyone.
“We wish Nigerian workers a peaceful celebration.”
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