AFRICA/NIGERIA - Inequalities in the world of work and corruption: necessary to put the dignity of the person back at the center

Wednesday, 9 May 2018


Abuja (Agenzia Fides) - "Work is not just any kind of commodity, and the dignity of workers is always the primary criterion of evaluation, as the Social Doctrine of the Church teaches. Work confirms the profound identity of man created in the image and likeness of God": says Father Joseph Tile Nomhwange of the Society of African Missions in Nigeria to Agenzia Fides
remembering that on May 1st the whole world celebrated Workers' Day. "It should be a celebration of the collective commitment to make the world we live in habitable, as well as the possibility of being able to take care of our families. Unfortunately, - continues the priest - for many countries, as in the case of Nigeria, it has become a day of protest, a reminder of growing despair and, for some people, an international day of regrets".
In Nigeria this year, workers listened to the speeches of the leadership of the Nigerian Labor Congress (NLC) and the government. The sequence was always the same: trade unions renewed their votes to protect workers' interests, and the government responded by promising better days. "At the end of the celebrations, the leaders of the Union fled aboard the cars that the workers paid through the union quotas and the government officials did the same with those that the workers paid with taxes. Workers returned home with the same old sad stories of bad working conditions, trampled rights, low pay and unpaid wages", notes the missionary.
"The cost of living continues to rise while the minimum wage has not changed", he notes.
"When teachers are not paid - underlines Father Joseph - the educational system is affected; when other public officials are not paid, the fight against corruption worsens. The problem is not limited to workers alone but to pensioners who sometimes die in poverty after working for the government for so many years.
This year, the main objective of the celebration in the African country was aimed at increasing the minimum wage of workers. Represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, President Muhammadu Buhari assured the workers a clear economic progress.
Addressing the population, he said: ' We believe that the worst is over for Nigeria'.
"But, with the increase in the cost of living, can we consider the salary with which to raise a family right?". For this reason, he concludes, a reflection on the meaning of work in Nigerian society should generate a revision of consciences and a general reform based on principles of fairness and defense of the dignity of all workers. (JN/AP) (Agenzia Fides, 9/5/2018)