By TUNDE JOSHUA
As Nigerian workers celebrated this year’s Workers Day, two prominent political leaders, Senate President, Ahmad Lawan and former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar joined other leaders to salute the nation’s workforce, seeking a better welfare package for them.
Both leaders called on the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities (ASUU) to find lasting solution to the unresolved crisis rocking the nation’s education sector.
While Lawan celebrated the workers for their immense contributions to the development of the nation, he asked governments across levels to give top priority to workers’ welfare.
In a statement by his media adviser, Ola Awoniyi, the Senate President said “Nigerian workers deserve our appreciations and respects for their contributions to the development of our country.
“I also salute them for their patriotic cooperation with the government and and other institutions in the collective efforts to address societal challenges.
“There is no gainsaying the fact that Labour creates wealth for the nation, the more reason that the welfare of the Nigerian workers should always be accorded priority.
“As Parliament, the National Assembly will continue to partner with the organised labour in addressing issues that affect workers and the generality of the Nigerian people.
“Despite the prevailing challenges, the relationship between Labour and the Government should be cooperative in the overall interest of the country. “In the spirit of May Day, I appeal for a speedy and amicable resolution of the ongoing negotiations between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities(ASUU) to ensure that our universities reopen for learning and research.
“We should always be mindful that no society can make meaningful progress without industrial peace and harmony.” On the other hand, Atiku who said he felt the pains of the Nigerian workers called for new approach to industrial dispute resolution.
The former Vice President of Nigeria described as “unbearable the pains and pang of hunger, hyper inflation, mass unemployment and insecurity challenges that Nigerian workers encounter in their daily lives”, but says there’s hope from this socio-economic slope.
He also admonished the Nigerian workers at all levels, and all sectors – federal, state, local governments and private sector – to “adopt a new approach in industrial relations, and dispute resolution by pursuing labour-friendly policies and positions that will guarantee improved national productivity, better working conditions for workers, particularly low-income staff and casual workers who have suffered so much anguish and pains in their daily working lives and living.”
In a special message marking May Day 2022, released in Abuja, Atiku enjoins workers and all Nigerians to know that he feels their pains and would do the utmost to better their lots, if given an opportunity to lead the country. He expressed concern that wages and salaries have remained static, food scarcity and inflation abound everywhere, children are out of school due to no fault of theirs, farmers can no longer go to farm for fear of bandits, traders cannot commute freely without being abducted, no energy to power industries and companies are shutting down geometrically; all conspired as burden on the citizenry.
“But all hope is not lost. We need not be forlorn; time is ripe to vote out bad governance and Nigerian workers should lead the way with their voter’s cards at the next polls, to ensure the return of better days,” he said.
Meanwhile, Atiku praised the resilience and determination of Nigerian workers, despite the myriad of man-made challenges confronting them.
“Nigerians are hardworking and industrious people, who can compete with the best in the world given a conducive atmosphere and good work environment: good training, welfare package and enabling laws,” the PDP presidential aspirant said. He urged Nigerian workers to keep hope alive, cultivate a new spirit of patriotism that will be geared towards nation building and peace.
The Waziri Adamawa appealed to the federal and state governments to work harder to bring the Academic Staff Union of Universities, and other striking labour unions back to the negotiation table in the interest of the Nigerian youths, and the educational system of the country, which is dying gradually due to these incessant labour unrests.
“Our country shall fare very well in the coming years if as a nation and people, our leaders and citizens imbibe a new spirit and approach in our attitude to managing the workplace, corporate governance and our nation’s wealth,” he said.