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The Nigeria Labour Protests

By on September 26, 2011

The Nigeria labour protest can only be better as it moves beyond the minimum wage debacle and into the serious need for reforms at various levels of governance. The demand for the commonwealth to trickle down into the hands of ‘poor of the poor’ can only guarantee the state its safety, sense of belonging and a fulfilling life as designated by the social contract.

Our labour protest takes its cue for an increasingly awareness of the middle class and their assertiveness for reforms. While are seeing the rich nations battered by recession with their economic troubles spilled into their politics, for the emerging giants, the story is just different. But the binding similarities are deepening middle class discontent, which is the malaise across both sides.

More so, as the West suffers a spillover of her economic troubles to her politics, emerging nations contend with deleterious impact of corruption. One thing that is taking shape in all of this the seemingly and pervasive disgruntled working class or the middle class who have seen their fortunes nose dive in recent times. Remember this class emerged as a result of the telecommunications revolution and the concomitant ripple effects of all this.

The previous week witnessed labour protest as a result of the minimum wage, terrorism, privatization process and their called for the punishment of those who abused the whole process. It is almost of same latitude as those of emerging nations. China saw another rebellion in mid-August one of the largest demonstrations since the Tiananmen Square protests took place on the streets of Dalian. In Brazil the tale continues with ministerial sackings ravaging the land like a whirlwind. All attributed to various allegations of misconduct. This has led to the minister of agriculture resignation.

More so, the rich nations battle the challenge of curbing public finance.  For emerging nations, the middle class has taken to the street to make several demands: fiscal responsibility, better public schools, more responsive government, a living wage, infrastructure and security overhaul, among others. The demonstrations and rumblings in our backyard are not different. Recent forecast from the Asian and African Development Banks, using a definition of $2-20 a day, described the middle class as those just out of poverty and they accounted for a third of Africa’s population. Nigeria’s poverty rate is 70% of her population. The demonstrations are growing and such rumblings are prevalent on all front. For all we know they might seem unusual but fact is there is an urgent need for things to be different now. The call is out there. It is everywhere.

Seriously, the time for the middle class to lead the charge is happening gradually. We demand that they become better organized across the divides to lead the charge to clean things up.  Our middle class have been this quiet and reckoned as pliant and inactive politically. This class has lived in hopes but has felt some of their nascent wealth seriously chipped at by global financial crises, a leaner workforce paradigm and most potently the forces of globalization.

Finally, we are seeing a call for reforms in all sectors of the economy. As The Economist put it, ‘corruption is more than just a matter of criminality; it is also the product of an old way of doing politics, one that is unaccountable, un-transparent and undemocratic.’ A better reflection on this is the urgent need for a clean government for its own reason notwithstanding. As the issues go, we might see something more than this protest. It is feared that if government at their various levels do not curtail their extravagance, we could experience a middle class protest that could turn into something broader.