2023: Nigerian Workers Must Vote Massively Against Bad leaders Plaguing Country’s Development – Ex-INEC Chairman, Jega

A former chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Attahiru Jega, has warned Nigerian workers that the time of narrowly believing that their interests can only be advanced through collective bargaining while they stay aloof and allow “ruffians and crooks occupy and dominate the political and governance spaces through manipulation of the electoral process” was over.
Jega who chaired Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) Political Roundtable event held in Abuja on Thursday, March 10, 2022, said this in his opening remarks.
The former INEC boss noted that the Nigerian state appeared increasingly incapable of discharging the roles and responsibilities traditionally expected of a modern nation-state, hence the need for labour unions whose numbers were in millions, to join forces to participate in the elections and determine who governed Nigeria.
“Participatory development and good governance are important matters for advancing the interests and aspirations of citizens in a country. Most citizens are workers, in one form or another, even if not all citizens are workers. Therefore, workers participation in the development of their country, especially in bringing about good governance, through which meeting their basic needs and aspirations is enhanced, is necessary and desirable,” Jega said.
“It is therefore the responsibility of organised labour, in trade unions or other associations and movements, to promote active workers participation not just in collective bargaining for narrow economic, or economistic, interests, but also in broader matters of development, especially active, focused, resilient and enlightened participation in the electoral process for the selection or election of people who would have the good character, patriotism and selflessness, among other things, to nurture and entrench good democratic governance, and direct public and governmental affairs well, whether at level of local government, the state, or the federation, to the satisfaction of workers and all other citizens.
“Perhaps in no other country in the world today, is this responsibility of organised labour more necessary and desirable than in Nigeria in its present circumstances. Nigeria is very badly governed and, unfortunately, it has been so for a very long time. Popular participation of citizens in their country’s affairs and governance processes has never been as great as it should be; and currently, it is even declining, if we take into consideration the massively declining figures of voter turnout in elections.
“All the indices of bad governance are starkly evident: from the fraudulent ways and means by which conceited elite impose themselves as ‘elected’ ‘leaders’ in governance; to the reckless, self- serving, corrupt, exclusionary, visionless, parochial and unpatriotic disposition and manner they have been ‘governing’. Indeed, on virtually all the global indices used to measure, rate and rank countries with regards to socio-economic development, addressing poverty, advancing human security, good governance and democratic development, Nigeria is ranked lowly and poorly, if not despicably given its vast potentials in human and material resources.
“As a consequence of all these, is there any wonder that the Nigerian state is appearing increasingly incapable of discharging the roles and responsibilities traditionally expected of a modern nation-state? Indeed, is there any wonder that some analysts are audaciously claiming that “Nigeria has collapsed”, or that some of us who are cautiously optimistic, are saying that “while Nigeria has not totally collapsed, evidence is there that it is collapsing, and efforts need to be made urgently to prevent it from collapsing?”
“In the present circumstances in Nigeria, there is no better way for the organised labour to strategically advance the collective interests of the working people of Nigeria, than to join forces with other patriotic forces and actively engage with politics and governance, and especially the electoral process, to ensure that the governance process and indeed the future of Nigeria is rescued from the reckless elite who are greedily and blindly undermining the socio-economic and democratic development of our country; who are literally getting the country grounded and, as it were, leaving the rest the citizens high and dry.
“In addition, organised labour has to forge unity among the trade unions and labour movements in the country in particular to motivate and encourage Nigerian workers to register to vote, then turnout to vote, and finally vote only for parties/candidates of good character who sincerely commit to promoting, advancing, defending, and implementing a Nigerian Workers Charter of demand when elected.”

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