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Labour Leader Urges Government to Cut Costs and Strengthen Democracy

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Labour Leader Urges Government to Cut Costs and Strengthen Democracy

By Katherine Abayomi, Port Harcourt

Labour Leader Comrade Ikechukwu Onyefuru has called on the government to reduce the cost of governance and focus more on strengthening democratic policies.

Onyefuru, the Chairman of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) in Rivers State, said robust and transparent governance structures are critical to ensuring equitable and effective democratic outcomes for all citizens.

He expressed concern that the government has failed in its responsibilities to deliver the dividends of democracy to the citizenry.

He called on the government to cut down the cost of governance and focus more on strengthening democratic policies.

“You will agree that we have failed as a democratic nation because Nigeria cannot boast of basic needs such as electricity supply, good road infrastructure, pipe-borne water, and low-income housing for middle—and lower-class earners.

“If you do not have a working process, how would you get dividends from the system? It is very simple: if you have a corrupt government that does not care for the people, there is no way to move forward as a country.

“Right now, there is hunger in the land; Nigerians can not afford basic food, and every day, more Nigerians are in poverty. You can not separate democracy and good governance.

“The government has failed the people, and the people are disappointed. Today, the dollar and naira exchange is over one thousand five hundred per dollar, and the pump price of petroleum products is not affordable to the average Nigerian.

“How about medicals? Nigerians cannot afford the lowest of drugs, and Nigerians are dying due to poor health facilities.

“We have failed as a country when we begin to look at the dividend that should come with democracy and when we benchmark ourselves with other countries that practice democracy.

“If you have a good government, the citizens will be good, whereas if you have bad leadership and a corrupt leader, there is no way you can have good followers. Even in a simple nuclear family, if you have a father and mother who do not behave well naturally, the chances of the children not behaving well are high.

“We expect the government to do what is needed by cutting down the cost of governance. You can not grow big and expect the masses to tighten their belts.

“Governments should strengthen democratic policies and ensure that democratic principles and guidelines are applied. It will bring about economic growth.

“Governments should establish laws and order, ensure they are respected across the board, reform the judiciary, and promote social justice.

“These are the basic things we expect the government to do until that is done, then we can say we are enjoying the dividends of democracy. Government should wake up to its responsibilities”.

Onyefuru urged the government to stop prioritizing things that add no value or importance to the common man and focus its attention on revamping the nation’s refineries and building a robust security network.

“The nation’s refineries are not working, and our security network is not functioning well due to a lack of attention and poor working conditions.

“We should be ashamed of ourselves; look at the coastal highway the government wants to embark on; it means that we can not prioritize what is important to us as a country. Why must they put such money into a project that does not affect our economy?

“Companies are winding down and leaving Nigeria. It is time the nation think what will attract investors and not for the investors we have be leaving the country and nobody cares”.

He further called on the federal government to emulate the bold steps of some state governors who have embarked on human capital development.

“I want to commend some Governors who have taken giant strides. Just recently, the Governor of Rivers State launched the blue economy and a road map toward revamping the state’s economy, which was plunging into a coma.

“With the blueprint he has already deployed, we see strategic actions outlined to ensure that Rivers State attracts investors and the state’s internally generated revenue (IGR) will continue to increase.

“Why can’t the country copy from Governor Siminalayi Fubara. The foundation he is building and human capital development are things we expect Nigeria to copy because these things are the dividends of democracy”.

The Labor Leader calls for electoral restructuring to create a credible, transparent voting system.

“Nigeria remains one of the countries in the world where manual voting is practiced even with all the high technology in the world.

“Last election, trillions of naira were voted in, yet we could not carry out the primary function of result transmission via the card reader machine.

“Nobody is asking questions of what happened at the last election, we have forgotten in a hurry. We became a laughing stock before the whole world.

“Let INEC be restructured, and make the commission a body that can indeed give us credible elections that are acceptable globally.

“Look at what is happening in South Africa’s ongoing election; everybody is transparent: if you win, you win; if you do not win, you wait for tomorrow. That is what we expect in Nigeria”.

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