By Musa Sunusi Ahmad
The prominent civil rights advocacy group- Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has asked the Nigerian commoners to fight for their rights as regards the excruciating hardships and hard times already inflicted by the hike in pump price of fuel and electricity tariff because the organised labour unions represent only the interest of paid workers in Nigeria who are less than nineteen percent of the population of Nigeria
Besides, HURIWA which reacted to the sudden call off of the planned national strike and protest by the Nigeria labour Congress/Trade union Congress, accused the organised trade unions of trade-off and SERIAL betrayal of the trust of the Nigerian masses.
“The idea that the organised labour told Nigerians that the intentions for the now suspended but never intended strike was to defend the interests of the oppressed masses but will in the wee hours of the night sneaked into the presidential mansion to strike an unholy accord with the Nigeria Federal Government, is the height of betrayal similar to the depravity of judas Iscariot in the New Testament of the Holy Scriptures”, HURIWA affirmed.
“ Since assuming offices as leaders of NLC/TUC, these hierarchies of the few Nigerians in paid employment will always deceive the masses that their agitations capture the aspirations of commoners but in effect these union leaders together with Government, in the night usually strikes anti-masses’ deals which in essence neglects the core issues of the agitations of the masses for a reversal of importantly, fuel price and also the electricity tariff. This show of grand deception and deceit is a manifestation of the indisputable fact that the labour unions played a fast one on millions of Nigerians who had wrongly hinged their hopes on these labour leaders but whose interests are purely that of the less than nineteen percent of Nigerians. This call-off of the protest is the grandmother of all betrayals, and this should be a warning sign for the ordinary people of Nigeria including the over 60 million unemployed youths to take their destiny in their hands and protest the injustices of government or perish as slaves. Now that their fascination over the Big Brother Naija is over, can the youths now constructively engage government so these hardships are reversed?”
HURIWA insisted that from data made available by the international labour organisation, Wage and salaried workers, in total (% of total employment) (modelled ILO estimate) in Nigeria was 18.71 as of 2019. Its highest value over the past 28 years was 18.85 in 2010, while its lowest value was 14.93 in 1991. Also, the global body defined wage and salaried workers (employees) as those workers who hold the type of jobs defined as “paid employment jobs,” where the incumbents hold explicit (written or oral) or implicit employment contracts that give them a basic remuneration that is not directly dependent upon the revenue of the unit for which they work.”
HURIWA argues further that in line with what ILO says that a high proportion of wage and salaried workers in a country can signify advanced economic development and also that If the proportion of own-account workers (self-employed without hired employees) is sizeable, it may be an indication of a large agriculture sector and low growth in the formal economy. A high proportion of contributing family workers — generally unpaid, although compensation might come indirectly in the form of family income — may indicate weak development, little job growth, and often a large rural economy. Each status group faces different economic risks, and contributing family workers and own-account workers are the most vulnerable – and therefore the most likely to fall into poverty. They are the least likely to have formal work arrangements, are the least likely to have social protection and safety nets to guard against economic shocks, and often are incapable of generating sufficient savings to offset these shocks. These indicators show that Nigeria is a very poor nation with a higher percentage of jobless people. The Prominent Civil Rights Advocacy group HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) therefore urges the people of Nigeria to find ways and means of negotiating with officials of government so that the high costs of living brought about by the hikes in the prices of the petrol and electricity are removed. The agreement with the NLC/TUC is at best in the interest of very few Nigerians who are in paid employment and are less than twenty percentage point of all of NIGERIANS. ”
HURIWA recalled that Organized labour, in the early hours of Monday, suspended the proposed strike over increase in prices of petrol and electricity tariff in circumstances that at best can be likened to dribbling the masses.
HURIWA recalled that the suspension was contained in a communique jointly signed by labour leaders and the Federal Government representatives, and read by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, at the end of the meeting that lasted about seven hours.
HURIWA recalled that going by the communique both government and Labour Unions excluding millions of ordinary non-working populations, agreed as followed: “The parties agreed to set up a Technical Committee comprising Ministries, Departments, Agencies, NLC and TUC, which will work for two weeks, effective Monday, September 28; “The committee will examine the justifications for the new policy, metering deployment, challenges and timeline for massive rollout; and the Technical Committee membership is as follows: Mr Festus Keyamo(SAN), Minister of State Labour & Employment, Chairman; Mr Godwin Jedy-Agba, Minister of State Power, member; Prof. James Momoh, Chairman, National Electricity Regulatory Commission, member; Engr. Ahmad Rufai Zakari, SA to Mr. President on Infrastructure. member/Secretary; Dr. OnohoOmhen Ebhohimhen, member (NLC); Comrade Joe Ajaero, member (NLC); Comrade Chris Okonkwo, member (TUC), and a representative of DISCOs, member.
The Rights group said there was no way these ambiguous terms of agreements have served the interests of poor and jobless Nigerians just as HURIWA has asked jobless youths, Students and the credible civil society stakeholders to begin concrete demands for the federal government to ameliorate in a concrete and pragmatic manners the high costs of living foisted on millions of Nigerians by the toxic hikes in the prices of premium Motor Spirit and electricity.