Abuja – The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Monday in Abuja pledged to strengthen and develop stronger ties between organised labour and civil society organisations in the country.

The NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, said this at a colloquium organised by the NLC and the Civil Society for the late Emma Ezeazu

The late Ezeazu, pro-democracy activist and former General Secretary of the Alliance for Credible Elections (ACE), died on May 18 at the age of 52 years, after a brief illness.

The colloquium was entitled, "Comrade Emma Ezeazu and Students and Popular Democratic Struggle in Nigeria."

Wabba said the partnership was imperative so as to be more responsive to the yearnings of the vast majority of poor and hardworking Nigerians.

"After 16 years of continuous democratic practice, are we happy with the end result of our democracy?"

"What have been the concrete benefits of this democratic dispensation that Comrade Ezeazu and other patriots fought the military to bring about? What are the concrete benefits to the citizens of this country?"

"It has been a tale of woes, a tale of unmitigated dashing of our hopes that democracy will improve our material well-being."

"A tale of lost opportunities; a tale of monumental corruption at all levels of our national life perpetuated by our political elite and their collaborators in both public and private sectors."

"It has become so bad that despite the huge revenue this country had earned from sale of crude oil over the years, some workers' salaries are not paid."

"We are in a stage where a number of states are unable to pay workers' salaries for several months, among others," he said.

He said that mutual trust needed to be developed, enhanced and sustained between the two organisations through partnership, in order to fight the rot in the system.

Wabba said the memorial colloquium organised in honour of Ezeazu called for reflection as he lived in the vanguard role of the working class in societal development.

The NLC President described the late Ezeazu as an "outstanding patriot among the finest of his generation, who had plenty of passion and idealism for an egalitarian Nigerian society"

He noted that the late Ezeazu, as President of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), struggled to forge a close working relationship between the students' body and NLC in 1984.

"We pledge our commitment to rebuilding the working relationship that had existed between the apex student body in this country and organised labour."

"As a leadership, we re-dedicate ourselves to fighting for the full emancipation of the working people of this country," Wabba said.

In his remark, Prof. Asisi Asobie, the Chairman of the occasion, described the late Ezeazu as a selfless and courageous man who fought for the oppressed.

"We feel sad that he died at this point in time when the country needed him greatly; he was one of those that fought for democracy for the country."

"He will never be forgotten in a hurry as he had laid a good foundations as a former president of National Association of Nigeria Students, one of the leading voices in the civil society circle, politics, among others," he said.

Asobie called on Nigerians to emulate the lives and times of the late Ezeazu, who championed the cause of working class and the oppressed.

Also, John Odah, the Chairman, Memorial Committee, described the late Ezeazu as a man who was committed to social justice.

"He lived his life fighting for the poor," he added.

Others present at the occasion were the current and former presidents of NANS, civil society groups, former colleagues and Femi Falana (SAN), among others.

– NAN