Nigerian labor unions say they will participate in the protest called by the country’s opposition political parties against the conduct of this month’s general elections. Bernard Ugbi is assistant secretary general of the Nigerian National Petroleum and Gas Workers’ Union.
From Benin City in Nigeria’s Edo State, he said labor unions are not happy with the way the elections were conducted.
“You will understand that the Nigerian nation has been comatose over how elections have been conducted all over the nation, especially the recent governorship election. The unions are protesting over the way it was conducted where there were no ballot boxes. Even when the protest comes up, it would depend on how the people would react to it. Labor will do its part, and then it would be left to the people to decide on whether it is right or wrong. But the most important thing is that labor will have to make its own voice known because labor is the vanguard of the people,” he said.
The All Nigeria Peoples Party, which came a distant second in the presidential election, is calling for the cancellation of the vote. Ugbi said that although the labor unions are not part of the opposition parties, the unions have a record of speaking out on behalf of the Nigerian people when it comes to the conduct of elections.
“Don’t forget too that during the annulment of the June 12,1993 presidential election, the labor unions came forcefully to fight for democracy, and the same principle is there for these days,” Ugbi said.
He said the decision to join the protest is in the interest of the Nigerian people. Ugbi said whether the results of the elections should be annulled would depend on what the Nigerian people want.
Ugbi said the unions are mindful that the Nigerian federal government may act to prevent the protest from being held. But he said they are used to such government behavior.
“Normally, even when we were doing protests on fuel price increase and the rest, government would normally not want protest. But labor has its own way of carrying out these protests. And if we believe in democracy, then we should be allowed to carry out our protest,” Ugbi said.