The May Day celebrations

AS universally accepted and practised, the May Day of each year is about the celebration of  workers and their contributions to the society. It is labour, not mere capital, that creates societal wealth. The May Day celebration usually takes place on the first day of the month of May. All over the world, the day, also known as Workers Day, is celebrated with pomp and circumstance. It is marked with various programmes, including rallies, debates and speeches designed to highlight the essence of workers as the engine room of governmental activities. There may be differences in the way the day is celebrated in different countries, but there is absolutely no doubt about the significance of Workers Day.

In Nigeria, too,  the May Day celebrations also happen. This year, the celebrations highlighted the daringly callous way in which the current administration has disappointed the country’s workers, aborting their dreams and aspirations. Despite the gains of their many years of negotiations, Nigerian workers still experience pain and agony. They live literally from hand to mouth. Although a bill was passed prescribing a new national minimum wage in 2019, the state governors have often had to return to the renegotiation table with the Nigeria Labour Congress  (NLC) and affiliate unions, pegging workers wages at ridiculously low percentages of the nationally agreed minimum wage. This year’s May Day celebrations therefore did virtually nothing to advance the interests and wellbeing of workers. Out of the 36 state governors, it was only Mr. Godwin Obaseki, the governor of Edo State, that had very exciting news for workers. Mr. Obaseki announced that henceforth, government workers in the state would enjoy a new minimum wage put at N40,000.

Across the country, workers trooped to the various venues of the May day celebrations in order to show their grievances.  These are definitely not the best times for workers and their families.  It is regrettable that many state governors are yet to pay the 30,000 minimum wage signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019. This is despite the vast resources available in the states. Certainly, the inability to pay the minimum wage of workers is contrived to give an unbelievable  impression of the states’ poverty. Meanwhile, the governors are in hot pursuit of higher personal goals to feather their political nests. This is mindlessly callous, to put it mildly. If anything, the humongous amount of money required for registering candidates for the different political posts is proof that the political class has unfettered access to the public till. Many of the governors aspiring for higher office or for a second term of office have failed to think outside the box and use the available  resources to fulfil their campaign pledges.

The labour unions have to make resolutions that would make future negotiations with the government more concrete. They must keep up their advocacy for good governance and better living conditions for workers. They must utilise every legal and legitimate means to advance their cause. We recognise and salute their courage and wish them success in future endeavours.


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