Enugu: The General Secretary, Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, Comrade Emmanuel Ugboaja, mni has charged Nigerian workers to vote for fellow trade unionists as they understand workers’ plights better and will be better positioned to push for the enforcement of the NLC’s Nigerian Workers’ Charter of Demands.
Ugboaja made the assertion on Wednesday in Enugu while delivering his opening address at a Townhall meeting for Labour leaders from the South East region organized by the NLC through the support of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung(FES), Nigeria office for the zonal unveiling of the workers charter.
“We must vote for our own people like Uche Ekwe, who never forgot us. As a member of the House of Representatives, he was in our rallies. He also spoke for us and protected our interests in all matters at the National Assembly.”
He equally explained that the workers would more easily have access to a fellow comrade, so as to seek his support than someone who is not part of their constituency.
According to him, “nobody can push our agenda like one of us, somebody who speaks our language. We will have ourselves to blame, if we don’t vote for our members contesting elections.
He stated that he was part of the formation of the Labour Party, LP, by the NLC National Executive Committee, as the founding Assistant National Secretary with the idea of bringing integrity to Governance, unlike “the madness called Nigerian politics”
“Labour is moving forward globally. In Brazil, Lula, who just won election as President was a former president of the Brazilian Trade Union Movement. Also, Cyril Ramaphosa, South African president was Secretary General, South African Mine Workers union
“After my course at NIPSS, Kuru, last year, myself and Uche (Ekwe), we resolved to take back LP or form a new party. However, we went back to a relationship with LP when INEC said they can’t register new political parties till after 2023 elections but pledged to arbitrate between NLC and LP”
He said that following their MOU with LP, NLC/TUC didn’t hesitate to embrace Obi, seeing him as a better option.
The Labour leader also gave an insight into the ordeal he passed through when he was contested for House of Representatives in 2019
“Don’t ask Labour Party candidates for money. If not, the shame will be on you.
“I saw hell when I contested for House of Representatives under APGA in 2019, even workers kept asking for money. One day, workers from Bende, my Local Government Area, said that they were coming for a solidarity visit. They ended up asking for money, tell me that they were yet to pay for the bus they hired to come.
“Every group that comes to you will say, ” Comrade, we know you are the best but eeh, we need some money”
However, he asserted that with the introduction of BVAS by INEC, it was not going to be “business as usual” since the people would now decide who leads them, through the ballot box.
Earlier in his welcome speech, the Enugu State Chairman, NLC, Comrade Virginus Nwobodo commended the leadership of the congress for producing the charter.
“I thank the leadership of the congress for producing the charter which encapsulated all the needs of not just the workers but the entire populace.
“NLC Enugu has presented the charter to the Labour Party Governorship candidate in Enugu State, Hon Chijioke Edeoga.
“As a worker, whoever you are voting for must agree with the charter, if it its your friend or brother or sister”
In her solidarity message, the representative of FES Nigeria office, Mrs Remi Ihejirika had this to say:
“This town hall meeting could not have come at a better time. As workers and Labour organizations, nobody can stop us from participating in politics.
“We must speak and speak loudly. Politics is a game of numbers, we have the numbers”.
She then urged workers to popularize the charter.
Other dignitaries present at the South East zonal unveiling of the Nigerian Workers Charter of Demands include; Hon Comrade Uche Ekwe, HOD, International Liaison/ National Assembly Liaison, NLC Headquarters/ Labour Party candidate, Enugu West Senatorial District, Chief Ezenwa Nwagwu, Executive Director, PAACA, Dr Jasper Uche, Keynote Speaker, Senior Lecturer, Political Science Department, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Dr Chidozie Anukwuorji, Senior Lecturer, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Discussant, Comrade Ikechukwu Nwafor, Chairman, NLC, Ebonyi State