Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, (HURIWA) on Friday, tasked the new NLC President; Comrade Joe Ajaero, to stay true to his reputation and not allow power and the influence that comes with the position to corrupt him.
HURIWA, in a statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, urged the new labour union boss to redeem the waning image and influence of the Nigeria Labour Congress through the institution of radical reforms and people-oriented policies and programmes.
The group also set agenda for Ajaero to surpass past achievements of NLC Presidents in the last 40 years since the establishment of the labour union by continuing to protect the interest of Nigerian workers against the exploitative tendencies of capitalists, employers and even the Federal and state governments.
Ajaero took over from Comrade Ayuba Wabba at the end of the 13th quadrennial National Delegates’ conference of Congress in Abuja this week, saying he would reconnect Nigerians with the movement in the struggle for the betterment of Nigerian workers and that his team would build greater solidarities be an amplifier of the people’s voices as well as pain and plights.
Commenting, HURIWA’s Onwubiko said, “A hearty congratulations to Comrade Joe Ajaero on his appointment as the new NLC President. We know Comrade Ajaero to be a true statesman. However, it is important to ask him to remain true to his reputation and not let power corrupt him.
“We also ask him to redeem the waning image and influence of NLC which his predecessors messed up by ‘eating and dining’ with the oppressors of the working class whom they should have resisted in the interest of the proletariats who have been deeply marginalised and subjugated by corrupt leaders cornering what should go to workers to themselves and their families.
“For context, the presidents of NLC to date are comrades Hassan Sunmonu (1979-1984), Ali Chiroma (1984-1988), Paschal Bafyau (1988-1994), Adams Oshiomhole (1999-2007), Omar Abdul Waheed (2007-2015) and Ayuba Wabba (2015-2023).
“The hard-working and conscientious ones amongst these past leaders were able to negotiate four national minimum wages since 1981 and these negotiated wages have provided succour to the standard of living of millions of Nigerian workers.
“But unfortunately, some of them compromised on the core ethos and values of the NLC by sabotaging the interest of the masses. Ajaero should not follow the steps of these saboteurs some of whom are still alive and whom Nigerians know their notorious identities.
“Ajaero must be reminded that the weight of expectations from the Nigerian working class including members of the civil rights movement to which HURIWA belongs are enormous. We, therefore, ask him to hit the ground running immediately and confront the oppressive ruling political class bent on the poverishment of the hoi polloi.
“Ajaero should immediately demand ease of living and working as much as organized businesses demand for of doing business. Ajaero should immediately ensure that the NLC compel or persuade state governments like Zamfara, Taraba, Benue, Kogi, Cross River, Abia and Imo who are yet to implement the new N30,N30,000imum wage about four years after President Muhammadu Buhari signed the national minimum wage bill into law upon the passage of the bill by the National Assembly.
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“Ajaero must stay committed as a voice for the voiceless and not frolic with the Ogas at the top. He must ensure that the Nigerian workers and their interests are protected in the planned removal of subsidy on petroleum products by the Federal Government.”