Workers celebrate May Day in Abuja amidst tight security


eagle sqaure

Workers in the FCT on Thursday celebrated the May Day amidst tight security as the Eagle Square, venue of the celebration, was cordoned by security agencies.

All roads leading to the square were closed, making the workers to trek about 200 metres to the venue.

The workers were thoroughly searched by security personnel before being allowed in.

All vehicles suspected to be abandoned 200 metres to the square were towed away by police and Federal Road Safety Commission personnel.

Armed personnel from the military, police and Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, supported by sniffer dogs, took position in and around the venue.

Their effort was complemented by a police helicopter on patrol.

Ambulances, tow vans and fire engines were deployed in and around the square for any eventuality.

It was also observed that communication went off as subscribers to the various GSM networks could not make or receive calls shortly after President Goodluck Jonathan arrived at the Eagle Square.

The Inspector-General of Police, Mr Mohammed Abubakar, on Wednesday ordered commissioners of police in the 36 states and the FCT, to provide adequate security, to enable workers to celebrate the day without hitch.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Thursday urged Nigerians to embrace peace and unity as critical tools for national development.

Mr Abdulwahed Omar, the NLC President, made the call during the celebration of this year’s Workers’ Day in Abuja.

The theme for the event is “Building enduring peace and Unity’’.

Omar said peace and unity were vital for the survival of many nations, adding that Nigerians must be rightly concerned about enduring peace.

“The challenges of insecurity had continued to threaten peace and unity in the country, yet without enduring peace our nation cannot truly develop on a sustainable base.

“In the past few years, the nation has witnessed unprecedented security challenges that have tasked our imaginations, resources and temperament.

“From the Niger Delta to the northern part of the country, we have had one form of violence or the other that threatened the peace and security of the country.’’

He described the insurgency in the North East, with the kidnap of more than 200 female students at Chibok in Borno, as the most threatening.

“Our hearts bleed as we await their safety and release,’’ Omar said.

According to him, anytime a bomb goes off or people hear the sound of agun, “the humanity in us dies”.

He expressed fear over the insurgency as people were losing their humanity, saying “we might even lose the entire nation if something drastic is not done’’.

The labour leader said that it was immoral to play politics with the life of citizens.

He said in spite of government’s effort to tackle the menace in the northern region, the situation was deteriorating, urging government to get to end the mayhem.

Omar also urged Nigerians to rise in unison to confront the enemy once and for all.

He, however, called on government to address the issues of functional education, unemployment and poverty with urgency.

“Government must of necessity and urgency deal with issues of functional education, unemployment and poverty,’’ he said.

Malam Bobboi Kaigama, the Presdent-General of the Nigeria Trade Union congress (TUC) called on the government to ensure that the economy was put back on track.

He said the nation was experiencing serious systemic failure, with homes being destroyed due to jobs loss.

“Homes are been destroyed, jobs shed and employees abused at will, business shut down.

“Our health care is not at its best, our schools are failing as results yearly rolled out by WAEC, GCE and NECO have testified.”

Kaigama said that each day further proved that the reform in the power sector might become a mirage all because of selfish interests.

Meanwhile, the Kano State chapter of the NLC cancelled all activities it initially planned to commemorate the day.

A reliable labour official told on Thursday that the decision was taken to prevent possible breakdown of law and order.

“The rally and all other activities organised for the event have been cancelled in order to ensure the sustenance of the relative peace being enjoyed in the state.

“The NLC officials were advised by security agents to shelve the idea of holding any rally that is why the activities planned for the day were cancelled,’’ the source said.

The press conference initially organised by the NLC officials was also cancelled at the eleventh hour after many newsmen had gathered at the venue for the event.

Although no official reason was given for the sudden cancellation of the event, many armed policemen were later deployed to the venue of the aborted conference.

Efforts to contact the state NLC Chairman, Mr Inusa Danguguwa, failed as he switched off his mobile phone.

The May Day celebration is an historic event that symbolises the struggle and sacrifices of the working class to gain improved working conditions.

The international workers’ day is in commemoration of the May 4, 1886 Haymarket affair in Chicago, U.S.

The day is set aside to commemorate the struggle for eight working-hour.

This year’s is the 168th formal edition, while 68 countries are observing the day on which member countries declared a public holiday.

Workers joined their counterparts across the world to celebrate this year’s ‘May Day’, popularly known as the workers’ day.

The day is being marked to renew workers agitation for improved working conditions and general welfare.

The agitation, which started in the U.S. in 1860, was set aside to commemorate the struggle for eight hours.

This year’s is the 168th formal edition, while 68 countries are observing the day which member countries declared a public holiday.

In Nigeria, the workers converged at the Eagle Square, Abuja, and the 36 state capitals to celebrate the occasion.

In Osogbo, Osun, the workers called for improved welfare package and prompt payment of salaries.

A cross section of public and private workers told that their current monthly emoluments hardly took them home.

They said that only attractive salary, good working condition, training and retraining of workers could guarantee enhanced productivity.

Alhaji Saka Adesiyan, the Osun NLC Chairman, called for a review of the salary structure of workers in both public and private sectors so as to meet the present economic situation in the country.

Adesiyan said that if there was an increased in the workers’ salaries, it would enhance productivity as well as improve the standard of living of workers.

He said better salary structure as well as good work environment would go a long way in assisting workers to meet their responsibilities.

Mrs Sherifat Balogun, a civil servant, said government must ensure prompt payment of salaries and better working condition for workers.

“We want to use this year workers’ day celebration to appeal to the state government to see to prompt payment of salaries as well as better work condition,” Balogun urged.

On his part, Mr Oladele Adetunji, TUC Chairman in the state, criticised casualisation of workers in some government establishments and the private sector.

Adetunji said the union would continue to struggle for better working conditions for employees.

He also said that the union would resist attempts by government or private organisations in preventing their employees from unionism.

In Dutse, the NLC called on the Federal Government and other parties to embrace dialogue as a lasting solution to the security challenges facing the country.

The NLC Chairman, Mr Sulaiman Adamu, made the call in his speech at the 2014 May Day celebration in Dutse.

“Due to the insecurity ravaging the country, especially the North, we call on the Federal Government and other parties involved to embrace dialogue in order to bring lasting solution.

“They should consider the lives and property of the people above their interests so as to allow peace to reign,’’ Adamu said.

Adamu said the state NLC suspended holding rally and any form of celebration in order to sympathise with the parents of abducted Chibok secondary school girls and Nyanya blast victims.

He said the congress had reviewed the performance of the state government in the last one year and acknowledged that it had provided adequate working materials and training of civil servants.

The chairman described the performance of the state government as “remarkable”, saying that it had created conducive working environment for the civil servants.

Adamu, however, urged the government to employ more youths in the state so as to fill the vacuum created by retirement and death of civil servants.