By Victor Ahiuma-Young & Johnbosco Agbakwuru
Organised Labour and former governor of Edo State and Chairman of All Progressive Congress, APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, yesterday blamed the massive closure of factories, retrenchment of workers and non-payment of salaries as a major cause of the growing insecurity and hopelessness across the country.
Former Senate President, Senator Ken Nnamani, also called on Nigerians to work together to unmask the “unknown gunmen” that had been perpetrating mayhem across the country, killing security men and burning police stations especially in the South East.
They spoke at the 2nd Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, National Peace and Security Summit, in Abuja.
The theme of the summit was “Overcoming the Siege of Insecurity in Nigeria: Imperatives of Human and Physical Security.”
Giving reasons for the summit, President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba, who expressed concerned over plans to relocate the US African Command from Germany to Nigeria, said the peace summit was to interrogate the issues causing insecurity and find a lasting solution that could take the country out of the woods of insecurity sooner or later.
He said: “The summit is also looking at how best to support the armed forces in the prosecution of the anti-terrorism war. However, we are concerned about recent plans to relocate the US African Command from Germany to Nigeria.
‘’While we welcome intelligence sharing and ammunition support to our armed forces, we warn that it will be counter-productive to replace our army with foreign soldiers. Nigerian Armed Forces are capable of surmounting the insecurity challenge if they are supported with adequate funds and technological equipment.
“Our political leaders should be ready to take responsibility for the actions they took while in office. There is a nexus between throwing workers out of their jobs and the resultant increase in unemployment and rising wave of insecurity.
“The present high state of insecurity in Kaduna State has a lot to do with the penchant by the state government to throw workers out of jobs. As we speak, from 2016 to date, over 29,000 workers have been thrown out of jobs in Kaduna State.
‘’Also, tuition fees in Kaduna State have been increased by 100 percent. What this means is that many children of the poor workers will not be able to attend good schools, while the children of the rich are sent to study outside the country.
‘’The implication is that these children who dropped out of school will now be used by bad elements to perpetrate insecurity in the country. We call on the governor of Kaduna State to rescind the decision urgently.’’
In his remarks, Comrade Oshiomhole, while lamenting the massive closure of factories across the country and continued retrenchment of workers in large numbers, wondered who bandits are.
‘’Who are the bandits? I suspect, that those 35,000 workers whose factories have been closed in Kaduna city, those whose livelihood have been taken away, what are they doing? What will their children and grandchildren be doing now? It’s common sense to know that an idle mind is the devil’s workshop.
“I suspect that those Nigerians that we abandoned and not provided for them, as you can call them almajiri or beggers, have all grown up.”
When you talk about unemployment, the biggest problem is having the biggest population of unemployable because they never had any opportunity of being taught by a qualified teacher,’’ Oshiomhole said.
He wondered why lawmakers would prescribe N30,000 as minimum wage, signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari and some governors for some reasons, would insist that the amount cannot be paid?
He said: “When they deny workers such payment, can there be peace? I submit with the International Labour Organisation, ILO, that the condition for national peace and security does not necessarily need much bullet but decent jobs.
‘’But when you are at an environment where jobs are being killed, jobs that does not exist cannot even be decent.”
The former NLC President, said the NLC would not succeed in its quest to educate those that had been benefiting as merchant of crisis, noting that they would be thrown out of their businesses.