Every Nigeria has the right to work

This year’s May Day was held with the theme "Right to work, food and education: Panacea to insecurity". Work is perhaps the most important way through which and individual realizes himself or herself. Communities or nations come together to organize ways in which they could achieve this basic and most vital aspect of being human. In this regard, the responsibility or job of every form of government is first and foremost to create job for her citizens. Unfortunately, the absence of pro-active labour unions in the country and the absence of a pro-worker registered party have meant that there is no party standing in elections in Nigeria today that truly represents the interest and aspiration of the working people. Often times, even the right to a peaceful demonstartion is denied the unemployed.

Our world has made enormous progress in many aspects of life. It is only right that we praise all positive achievements which contribute to the welfare of humanity. We can see these in the fields of health, education, and communications. Nevertheless, we must always recognize the undignified life being lived by many people because they lack the means to a dignified life.  In many countries such as Nigeria, fear and frustration grip the hearts of many, the joy of life is diminished and diminishing in the heart of many, violence is on the rise, poverty and hunger the greatest scourges of our time are all around. 

The income of a few is increasing exponentially. That of the majority of the people is living beyond the level of mere subsistence. This balance results from an ideology that has made money and capital the new gods of our time, no longer meant to serve the common good. A tyranny of money has been established which is being fed by the endemic corruption and selfish fiscal irresponsibility that has become a global scourge. The will to acquire and of possession has become limitless. Human beings are now considered as consumables that can be discarded after use.

Nigeria has enough resources to provide job to all her citizens if we had the right perspective to money. It is because ethics which should have had predominance in economic and social matters receive no space instead money has been created into an idol for itself. We deny the primacy of human beings in the affairs of the world.  The worship of the golden calf of the old has found a new and heartless expression in the cult of money and the dictatorship of economy lacking any human face.

The crisis of unemployment has created a lot of other problems that affect every Nigerian both home and in the Diaspora. The present insecurity and open display of lawlessness, violence can arguably be attributed to this crisis. Unemployment has led to the mass exodus of Nigerians to other countries. Many have lost hope in Nigeria and regard it as a sinking ship that must be abandoned as fast as one can.

Though several interventions had been made in the past 14 years to address the issue of general unemployment in the country, with the National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) established in 2001 and the recent Subsidy Reinvestment Programme (Sure-P) all targeted at alleviating poverty, especially among the youths, the rate of unemployment and its attendant social vices have continued. Our nation and our people do not suffer from lack of ideas and strategies. It may be said that the main difficulty has been Government’s lip service and lack of the political will to its strategies, policies and programmes.  Tragically, for the millions of unemployed people and for the nation as a whole, the House of Representatives recently threw out a bill that aimed at unemployment stipends to Nigerian graduates.  The bill was submitted by a member of the House of Representatives, Honourable Arua Arunsi, probably moved by the plight of unemployed Nigerians.  

People have to fight to defend their fundamental rights. No government throughout history has been known to give concessions without significant pressure forcing it to the negotiating table. It is in this light that we should laud the Assembly of Unemployed Nigerians from the 774 LGAs of the country, GUN774, who are advocating for job creation in the country. When you create job, you crush poverty and hunger.

 It is in this light, that there should be a renewed challenge to politicians, leaders and governments that the dignity and centrality of each individual should always be protected in social, cultural, political and economic arrangements in respect to fundamental rights. Each nation should have legislation to this effect to safeguard the right to work.  In every arrangement of society, the individual ought to be placed at the center. On this account, there urgent need for financial reform along ethical lines that would produce in its turn an economic which places money, capital in it proper place – a place to serve the needs of every person. No doubt, this entails a courage change of change of mentality on the part of political leaders and the rich in our society. We are calling on these people to face this challenge with political will and a sense of responsibility to the present and future of our nation. Money has to serve, not to rule!

This is also a way of reaffirming solidarity for employment for every human person which is a great challenge to all nations in the 21st century. In light of the current economic crisis and the rapid spread of unemployment, this has become urgent. Nothing is dehumanizing to a person than lack of access to employment. It makes the individual loose sense of worth and hopeless. There is no worse form of material poverty than that which makes it impossible to earn a living and which deprives someone of the dignity of work. It is therefore not enough to help the poor, to give to charity, donate thousands and millions of naira to religious groups, but we must reform the system at the global level in a way that is fair and just and guarantees work to every able individual. In this context, there is the priority of justice over charity. You do not steal from me and use what belongs to me to do an act of charity towards me.

Teddy Ihens


Operations Director