PRESIDENT TINUBU TO NIGERIAN WORKERS: I Do Not Take Your Understanding, Patience, Support For Granted

From left. Minister of State for Labour and Employment , Barr Nkeiruka Onyejeocha ; President, Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Joe Ajaero; Vice President Kashim Shettima and President, Trade Union Congress, Comrade Festus Osifo during 2024 May Day Commemoration at the Eagle Square Abuja on Wednesday (01/05/24).
From left. Minister of State for Labour and Employment , Barr Nkeiruka Onyejeocha ; President, Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Joe Ajaero; Vice President Kashim Shettima and President, Trade Union Congress, Comrade Festus Osifo during 2024 May Day Commemoration at the Eagle Square Abuja on Wednesday (01/05/24).

…….Says their days of worrying are over.

…….Pledges to consider national living wage over minimum wage.

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has assured the Organised Labour that their understanding, patience, commitment and support in the course of implementing his administration’s policies and programmes are not taken for granted.

He applauded the Nigerian workers for their contributions to ongoing efforts by the government to save the nation’s economy, describing them as “an indispensable component of the nation’s engine,” in the bid to build a just and progressive society.

The President who gave the assurance on Wednesday during a colourful ceremony to mark the 2024 May Day celebration at the Eagle Square, Abuja, said it is a fundamental truth that the workers are Nigeria’s backbone, even as he acknowledged and appreciated their hard work, sacrifices, and contributions to the nation’s stability and prosperity.

Speaking through Vice President Kashim Shettima who represented him at the event, President Tinubu commended the choice of the theme for this year’s May Day celebration, “People First,” saying it did not only resonate with his administration’s agenda, but also demonstrates that “the working class holds a central position in the affairs of this nation.”

Delivering the President’s address titled, “Solidarity in Action: Collaborative Governance, Empowered Workers”, VP Shettima stated: “Great Nigerian workers, your role as an indispensable component of the nation’s engine cannot be overstated by any government if the quest for a just and progressive society is to be realised. Therefore, I extend my most heartfelt congratulations to you on this very important celebration.

“I do not take for granted the understanding, patience, commitment, and support you have shown throughout the implementation of this government’s policies and programmes aimed at positively transforming our great nation. Your contributions have played a significant role in our efforts to rescue the economy since we came on board”.

The 2024 Workers Day was marked with high hopes, as President Tinubu told the workers that their days of worrying were over, just as he hinted at his administration’s readiness to consider a national living wage that will address their living condition, instead of a minimum wage, if suggested by the 37-member Tripartite Committee on Minimum Wage set up on January 30, 2024, by the federal government.

He said, “The committee’s mandate was to provide counsel and suggest a national minimum wage that aligns with our current economic conditions. Since then, the committee, in collaboration with labour leaders, has been diligently working towards proposing a new National Minimum Wage.

“Unfortunately, despite concerted efforts, the committee was unable to reach a consensus at its last meeting. This shall be resolved soon and I assure you that your days of worrying are over. Indeed, this government is open to the committee’s suggestion of not just a minimum wage but a living wage.”

Noting that he assumed office at a time Nigeria, like many other nations, were grappling with what he described as “daunting socio-political and developmental challenges”, President Tinubu maintained that his government has been “resolute in confronting these obstacles head-on.

“The scourge of criminality, from banditry to kidnapping and the farmer-herder crises, alongside terrorism, continues to afflict our nation despite the tireless efforts of our armed forces. We are aware of the toll this takes on our economy. I assure you: we are fully committed to tackling these security challenges,” he added.

The President however observed that it would be impossible to “achieve a just and equitable society that caters to the needs of every member, including the strong and the weak, without fostering peace and unity.”

He pointed out that Nigeria’s “shared vision for national growth and development can only be realised in an atmosphere of industrial harmony and peaceful coexistence in every segment” of the country.

Earlier, the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Hon Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, reminded the workers that it was the first May Day under President Tinubu, pointing out that it is a reminder “of the great sacrifices made by the working class toward the enthronement of dignity of labour which are key to national growth and development.”

According to the Minister, while President Tinubu “believes that every worker deserves to work in an environment free from exploitation, discrimination, and oppression,” the government is “creating workplaces that offer respect, job security and inclusivity for all.”

Onyejeocha assured labour that the Tinubu administration “empathizes with the plight of workers and will do all it can to address these issues,” urging the organized labour “to maintain social dialogue in resolving disputes.”

In his goodwill message, the Minister of FCT, Barr Nyesom Wike, pledged the commitment of the FCT administration under his watch to the needs and welfare of workers in the territory, noting that they are the backbone of the public service in the area.

He said the establishment of the FCT Civil Service Commission is a testament to the administration’s obligation to the welfare of workers in the public service, assuring them that they will be treated with dignity, respect and fairness.

On her part, the representative of the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), Comrade Adenike Ajala, reiterated the commitment of the organisation to the concerns of the Nigerian worker, pledging NECA’s resolve to always uphold the principle of collective bargaining in all engagements regarding the wellbeing of workers.

In a joint speech, presidents of Nigeria’s two major labour unions, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), maintained that prioritizing the welfare of workers and pursuing policies that improve productivity are critical for national development.

NLC President Comrade Joe Ajaero and TUC President Comrade Festus Osifo said, “Leadership is about the people. There is no other measure for success in government except its impact on the lives of the people.”

They urged the government to swiftly conclude negotiations on a national minimum wage that reflects economic realities for Nigerian workers.

Other dignitaries at the Workers Day celebration were the Secretary to Government of the Federation, Sen. George Akume; representative of the Senate President, Sen. Didet Plang; Chairman, House Committee on Labour, Employment and Productivity, Hon. Adegboyega Adefarati; former presidents of the NLC, Sen. Adams Oshiomole; Comrade Ayuba Waba and Comrade Abdulwaheed Omar; former executives of the various unions and representatives of the diplomatic community, among others.

Stanley Nkwocha
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Communications
(Office of the Vice President)