News and Information

basanjo Fuels Dictatorship in Africa With New Labour Bill, Workers Allege
September 9, 2004

Vanguard (Lagos)

September 9, 2004
Posted to the web September 9, 2004

Rotimi Ajayi

Delegates of African Workers to the Ouagadougu summit of Heads of States and Governments of African Union (AU) have alleged that President Olusegun Obasanjo is sowing the seed of dictatorship on the continent with his bill seeking proscription of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).

The workers gave the warning in a letter to the President dated September 4, 2004 and signed by all the delegates of countries attending the meeting, which closes Thursday, September 9, 2004. The letter pointed out that as the Chairman of the African Union, sponsoring of the bill by President Obasanjo portends grave dangers to the emerging democratic cultures on the continent.

"We understand from our regional organizations (ICFTU-AFRO, OATUU and DOAWTU) that your government has a pending bill before the Nigerian parliament aimed at de-registering the NLC under the guise of reforming labour laws.

"Coming from a country hosting the chairmanship of the AU, this is particularly unfortunate and sends very wrong signals to the rest of the world that African leaders cannot constructively co-exist with workers' organizations that are critical of government policies.

Your government action in seeking to de-register the NLC through the amendments suggests that it is no longer willing to tolerate the constructive, people-driven and legitimate opposition of the NLC to economic policies perceived by the workers and people of Nigeria to be injurious to their welfare.

"Everything should be done by Mr President to ensure that sentiments from previous engagement of government policies by the NLC are not allowed to drive it to set aside its constitutional obligations to respect the rights of Nigerian workers, especially their right to freedom of association.

"Nigeria needs an active and vibrant civil society, as well as the catalyst role the NLC is playing in the promotion of good governance, public welfare, the rule of law and re-awakening the democratic consciousness of the citizenry.

"These are critical objectives that Your Excellency joined in enunciating in the context of NEPAD, which have to be allowed credible expression at home.

"In line with our regional organizations, we again strongly call on the Nigerian government to withdraw the unpopular Bill from the National Assembly because the Bill is patently inconsistent with ILO Conventions 87, 98 and 144 and violates the Nigerian Constitution as well."

The workers stated that Nigerian government should allow the ILO-supported tripartite labour law review process to be concluded.


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