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For a better society

A Nigeria beyond wage increase

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There is no doubting the fact that it is becoming increasingly necessary that the citizens must find better ways of pursuing their collective interests and aspirations in the Nigerian project beyond what presently obtains.

This is against the backdrop of the obvious, deliberate and evidently nonchalant attitudes of those who pretend to be fighting the cause of the ordinary Nigerian when they are indeed exploiting the gullibility of populace in absolute terms.

We regret to observe that the long held perception that certain categories of people which include lawmakers, governors and the presidents  were elected into offices as true representatives of the people have turned out to be an illusion considering the high level betrayal been exhibited by these state actors.

But the most disheartening discovery however is in the ugly trend where civil society organizations and the organized labour are not near fighting the cause of the common people but using the largely unorganized society as the ladder for obtaining parochial objectives.

For instance, we consider the current dance of shame which the organized labour comprising the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) is doing with government in form of negotiation for wage increase as the only way of ameliorating the sufferings of public servants as very myopic, selfish and unrepresentative of the interest of the larger society.

Discerning minds and public affairs analysts too, have continued to point to the fact that civil society organizations other than the organized labour should by now be adopting broad- based  and expanded approach on issues of  welfare of the larger society beyond the egocentric disposition of labour unions whose interest at all times is always skewed towards the welfare of their members alone who are not more than two and half per cent of Nigerians thus leaving the rest of the population at the mercy of the current political gymnastics.

Is it not surprising that no one is thinking of how to contain the immediate fallout of wage increase on the larger society which is inflation.

We are of the opinion that it would have been a better deal if the labour unions have been concentrating their intellect, energy and resources on taking the government to task on ways and means of providing functional and affordable social amenities like cheaper and modern transportation system which includes rail and waterways, cost- friendly electricity tariff, better managed healthcare system, functional education system at all levels, ensuring food security as oppose to wallowing in the dark by asking for outlandishly high minimum wage regime N250,000 when it is obvious that such route will only benefit a few while causing humongous damage to the larger society by way of inflation.

Civil society is the aggregate of non-governmental organizations and institutions that involve diverse cultural, religious, and special interest groups that represent and implement the interests and will of citizens and enforce social norms.

It is also the space in which social movements are organized to represent diverse and sometimes contradictory social interests. In this way, it acts as an arena where different interests compete, compromise, and find solutions before legislation or arbitration becomes necessary. Furthermore, it is a process that enables groups to implement programmes that impact the larger society positively.

The function of civil society is to act as a link between the state and its society. In any society, there are needs that the state is unable or unwilling to meet, so civil society steps in and provides necessary aid such as food distribution, medical services, legal advice, and disaster relief. It provides ways to mediate between different, sometimes contradictory interests that arise in the public arena.

Finally, civil society motivates ordinary citizens to volunteer and help their communities as well as denotes the sphere of action that lies between the state and society that is made up of civic groups, civil society organizations, and non-governmental organizations. These all work to represent and promote certain special interests or raise public awareness of civic duties and political rights.

A civil society organization or non-governmental organizaiton (NGO) is any non-profit, voluntary citizens’ group which is organized on a local, national or international level. It contains such civic groups like the Rotarians and the Optimist Club that promote service to the community.

Similarly, large non-governmental   Red Cross or the United Way fall within the definition of civil society. In the past decades, global civil society (GCS) has emerged and works beyond the state in the transnational realm. Greenpeace, UNICEF, and World Vision are examples of GCS.  In the Nigerian contest, groups like Oodua Peoples Congress,  Arewa Consultative Front,  Ohanaeze Ndigbo,  Pan Niger Delta Forum,  Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta,  Nigeria Labour Congress,  Red Cross Society and  Boys Scout Movement among others qualify as civil society organizations.

However, we observe with deep concern that some of these groups have individually and collectively remained unpatriotic when it comes to fighting for the rights and welfare of the generality of the people thus making the ordinary Nigerian to be treated as an orphan and with disdain by every government in power.

It is a common knowledge that successful and impactful revolutions all over the world were precipitated through mass movements. The latest case studies been in Egypt and France where the populace put their power to test leading to charismatic changes. It is rather disheartening that the present day Nigeria is bereft of functional and purpose-driven civil society organizations capable of mobilizing the citizens, into at least,  marching to the National Assembly if only to block the passage of anti-people legislation like the planned purchase of another presidential jet at the time that most Nigerians can barely feed themselves.

It is clear to all that the present structure, operational strategies and areas of concentration of the organized labour are in no way designed to be creative enough to accommodate the larger interest of the ordinary Nigerians in their several struggles. Consequently, we advocate a reawakening of the other major civil society groups into presenting themselves as veritable pressure groups with the intent of championing the cause of the citizens if only to constitute the third force capable of countering the conspiracies of government and its co-travelers to which the organized labour is an outstanding member. Nigerians desire a voice and surely deserve a credible voice.



For a better society


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