The Campaign for the Bwari/AMAC Constituency hit a new level as Johnson Somadina Anene, the Labour Party (LP) candidate for the House of Representatives in the forth-coming election gathered friends, supporters and well-wishers to a dinner to rub minds on his views, programmes and initiatives. AUGUSTINE AMINU was there. Excerpts:
Considering the ties of your party to the Nigerian workers, what is your perspective of the working class in their relations with employers of Labour?
Well, you know Labour Party is a worker’s party and it is also for the family, which is the reason you see the husband, wife and the child on its logo. And Labour Party is projecting the ideals of the workforce in general. Through Labour Party, we are trying to achieve better welfare for the Nigerian workers and also to contribute to reducing unemployment in the country. We are striving to really see that every Nigerian graduate does not sit back waiting for government employment. We want to educate the people through the people so that they can be self-employed and be able to transform them from being employees to employers of labour because the government cannot employ everybody.
But what we also want the government to do is to create that enabling environment for businesses to thrive to enable the young graduate, the young artisan who has learnt one skill or the other to be able to establish his own business and grow, so we want something that will really enhance the growth of small and medium enterprise development in Nigeria.
What is your outline of programmes and initiatives to assist building cordial relationship of Nigerian Labour Congress with the Labour Party as it is in the global village?
The Nigerian Labour Congress exists mainly to canvass for the better welfare of the workers and the motto is ‘Forward ever! Backward never’ And that is what we are projecting, and also to encouraging that whatever you find your hand to do, you do it very well. We know that there is dignity in labour, so whoever that has worked is entitled to a good remuneration. Of course the NLC cannot be completely detached from the Labour Party although the management may be completely different, the Labour Party may not be in the pocket of the NLC but they supposed to have good working relationship and if they don’t have I know that they are striving to achieve that better working relationship.
Labour issue is being contemplated to be removed from exclusive list to the concurrent list in the proposed amended constitution, what experience have you garner over the years to suggest that it would not be worse for Nigerian workers if be so amended?
I really don’t think so, I also know that the government means well for the Nigerian workers, because somebody who is working for you, you will want a good welfare for him because it will impact on its productivity, so I don’t really think government will deliberately remove the labour matter from exclusive list to the concurrent list. And if so removed, yes, the state government has some roles to play while the federal government would also have its role to play, but then you know that it’s not every workers that are on the pay roll of the federal government neither does all the workers come under the state governments.
The recorded history of organized Labour in Nigeria is over nine decades, what does this mean to you? And where do you envisage the workers which you wish to represent be placed in the new century and how could that be achieved?
The workers should always take the front seat to play a dominant role in the development of the economy; every country that wants to move ahead should not play down the workforce. I know sometimes we look at these things as rock science but it’s a simple thing, someone who is working for you, you should establish a good working relationship with that person, maintain a good welfare for the person, so that the person will have a right state of mind, right frame of mind and the right attitude towards the work he is doing which would enhance better productivity from that worker.
So the global community should be mindful of how they address issues relating to the workforce, and if it’s well address that economy will move faster in the right direction, so you cannot remove the development of any economy from its workforce.
What core impact would have been made by your office if elected in Bwari /AMAC constituency in the incoming 5th National Assembly?
I hope to impact positively on the welfare of the workforce, to propose bill that will enhance better worker welfare and by so doing enhance positively on the economy. Some people think that when you are advocating for better workers’ welfare of the worker, better salary, better take home package, they think that you are just asking only for the interest of the worker but that is not true because when you pay the worker a good salary it impacts positively on his entire family.
For example, if the take home pay of the head of the family is good, it will show on his wife, the children, all the dependant and the extended family at large and show on the immediate environment and not only that, the worker will be more committed to the work thereby impacting positively on the productivity and economy of the environment.
Looking at your vision, you are driven by the desire to promote the wellbeing of the people through legislative advocacy in the House of Representatives on the platform of Labour Party, what is your take on austerity measure as it affects the working class people?
Well, austerity measures of course is saving, self-denial and sacrifice. But you will not say because you are alright today, you refuse to save for the future. And in as much as you want to save for the future, you will not starve and deprive yourself completely because you need to live today in order to get to that future. At same time you don’t need to eat fat today and starve in the future, so there must be a balance. Austerity measures can be applied but to some limited extent because you need to be alive in order to reap the benefit, thus my take on it is that you need to manage the resources well to the extent that the people here will live a modest life style and you now save for tomorrow welfare and increased productivity.