The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has canvassed more accountability and transparency in public governance as a step towards moving the country forward.
The organized labour made this call as Nigerians mark 18th years of democratic government.
The NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba , in a statement issued to commemorate the Democracy Day noted this year’s Democracy Day was an opportunity to shift “our pliant position as citizens to a position of virility, vitality, proactivity or of asking questions, especially, those who have appropriated the machinery of democracy to feather their nests”.
While congratulating Nigerians, particularly workers on the commemoration of another Democracy Day, the labour leader pointed out that May 29 reminded us all that we are on a democratic journey and also afforded the citizenry the space to review how far and how well democratic journey has progressed.
Reflecting on Abraham Lincoln’s definition of democracy as the government of the people, by the people and for the people, Wabba explained that by this iconic definition, democracy offered the people ample insight into the purpose of democracy and provided a basic basis to evaluate the performance of democratic actors in any clime.
He stated: “There is no doubt that the mention of ‘people’ thrice in the definition of democracy is not a coincidence. It is only a statement of fact that the people are the fulcrum of democracy. So, for us in Nigeria, it is perfectly fitting to ask ourselves “how has democracy served the people of Nigeria?
“ In our view, 18 years is long enough a time to ask ourselves “how much progress have we made as a people in our democratic journey?” The truth is that 18 years of democracy has come with very sparse rewards for the Nigerian people.
“While we celebrate democracy’s irreplaceable gift of freedom, liberty and popular representation, the truth remains that this democracy has served the political class and not the average Nigerian”, the NLC President added.
Lamenting the plight of the ordinary Nigerians in the face of democratic government’s promises, the labour leader pointed out that unfortunately, leaders elected to serve had not only turned around to serve themselves but continued to exploit every given opportunity to turn the rest of us into paupers in our own land.
He noted further that besides the frequent unlawful dipping of fingers into the public till, everything including salaries, pensions, perquisites, ways and means had been skewed in favour of the leaders to the exclusion of workers
Wabba stated that this certainly continued to make a mockery of the very essence of democracy which is service to the people and for the benefit of the common good, saying that for the labour movement, a democracy that does not allocate resources in such a manner that ensures equity, justice and sustained national development or cohesion is beggarly.
We reason that Nigerian workers are frequently turned into canon fodder by the Nigerian political elite in their high stakes political games and mindless scramble for the commonwealth.
Despite escalating costs of living, devaluation of the Naira and general hardship in the land, the Nigerian worker is still forced to survive on N18,000 as minimum wage with not a few states owing backlog of salaries and pensions.
On the problems bedeviling the country and circumstances that continued to undermine the taking care of workers, including recent spate of insecurity, corruption, unpaid salaries of workers, infrastructure gaps and others, Wabba said that in light of the foregoing, this May 29th should be like no other as it should not be devoted to false homage to democracy but devoted to soul-searching and truth-telling, so that with commitment from all of us, we can get it right.
He stated: “This day avails us a great opportunity to demand for accountability from our leaders, especially, governors, and also from ourselves as citizens of a great country that has potential to be greater
“It is a day for us to shift from our pliant position as citizens to a position of virility, vitality, proactivity or of asking questions, especially, those who have appropriated the machinery of democracy to feather their nests.
“This May 29 must be seized by those who have been under-served by the chefs manning our democratic kitchen. This May 29 must be captured by those who have been left behind in our democratic journey. There is no better time to demand for accountability from political office holders than now”, Wabba added.