#WorkersDay : Masquerade Takes Over Rally In Abuja (Photos)
NIGERIAN workers made a valid statement on Monday when for the first time in many years, the May Day rally in Abuja was disrupted because of their evident dissatisfaction with President Muhammadu Buhari government; over the issue of minimum wage, workers’ welfare and general poor condition of Nigerians.
As the workers went berserk at the Eagles Square venue of the rally, masquerade took over the rally, dancing back and front in front of the dignitaries and the podium.
The programme, which started around 10.30am went smoothly until the representative of the Labour Minister, Sen Chris Ngige, was called to give his speech. The workers shouted No! No!! No!!!. From this point, the workers in their thousands troops to the podium shouting No, and all entities made to pacify them by the labour leaders failed.
The minister thought his intervention will calm down the riotous workers, and jumped to the podium to address the workers but they resisted and shouted him down. Former President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, took over in his usual comradeship fashion but was not allowed to continue.
Oshiomhole simply said: “I am here to speak on behalf of myself,” but the workers responded in a negative tone and rebuffed all entireties by the former NLC president and Edo State Government from addressing them.
When the workers finally took over the podium, and the Police tried to resist them, they resorted to throwing bottles and pebbles. Masquerade took over the stage and danced unrestricted.
The police sent for reinforcement and more and more policemen were drafted to the venue but cannot calm down the protesting workers.
As at exactly 1.30pm, an anti-riot Police van blowing heavy siren droves to the rally ground but rather than restricted, the workers besieged it, sleep across its way and dared it to overrun them.
“How many will you kill? You can start killing us. This is intimidation at the highest level. We are ready to be killed, you can continue.” The workers shouted”
The grouse of the workers is the continue absence of President Muhammadu Buhari at every labour day celebration since he came in and most especially his government refusal to increase the national minimum wage, as promised them last year.
Some of the workers who spoke with Tribune Online said their suffering was too much, and emphasized that they left the ground dejected last year when the Buhari government failed to announce a new minimum wage but promised to work on it.
Yet, they stated that another year has passed and nothing was done on the issue of minimum wage. They added that they can no longer be deceived by either the present or former labour leaders and continue to groan in poverty..
However, when Sen Ngige spoke with the media briefly before leaving the venue, he blamed the crisis on the infiltration of the rally by non-workers.
The minister said the rally was infiltrated by non-workers and also blamed factionalisation in the labour movement for the protest.
He however promised that the Federal Government will pay backlog of promotion and all allowances, while also expressing the government and President Buhari commitment to the issue of national minimum wage.
All the invited dignitaries and government officials such as the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, the Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, labour minister and representative of FCT minister, all left the rally ground in the process.
More that 90 per cent of the workers too have left before the match past and the NLC President, Comrade Wabba read his May Day Speech.