The Partner for Electoral Reform (PER), a Civil Society Organisation (CSO), says the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) are not “connected’’ with the Nigerian workers.
Chairman of the organisation, Mr Ezenwa Nwagwu, stated this in an interview with the Newsmen on Tuesday in Abuja.
He said that lack of prowess by the unions’ leaders to calm protesting workers during the 2017 May Day celebration in Abuja on Monday was an indictment on their part.
The workers who prevented government officials from delivering their routine speeches, protested the absence of President Muhammadu Buhari and the Vice Pfresident, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, at the event.
They had insisted that the President or his Vice must be the one to address them.
According to Nwagwu, the inability the union leaders to calm the workers is an indication that there is a gap between them.
He said that it was unfortunate that Mr Adams Oshiomhole, the immediate past Governor of Edo and a former NLC leader could not calm the workers when he was brought in.
“First of all, I think that beyond the revolt of the workers, it was the act of Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, that triggered the anger of the workers.
“It was arrogance, because he was seated there but decided to send a Permanent Secretary to represent him in a function he was present.
“This got the workers angry, not minding that he was representing the president. It was from that point that other issues that had agitated the minds of the workers took over.’’ Nwagwu said.
He added that the action of the workers revealed that there was need for the union leadership to look inwards and see to what extent they were truly connected to the workers.
“If they will need Oshiomhole, a former NLC president to calm the workers, it’s an indictment, perhaps on their inability to connect with the generality of the workers,’’ he said.
Nwagwu added that the presence of the Senate President and Speaker of House of Representatives at the rally did not help the situation.
This, he said, was so because the workers were convinced that the unions could not be fighting corruption and be hobnobbing with people they perceived to be corrupt.
“That itself was also a trigger and I think it is important that we all collectively begin to work to ensure that we address those issues,’’ he said.
Nwagwu, however, urged the unions’ leaderships to go back to the drawing board and ensure that the right things were done to reconnect with the generality of the workers.