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Selected speeches of Obafemi Awolowo (Vol 2).

TO make the working class fit for their role, therefore, especially in the more permanent spheres of peace, reconciliation, and development, it is imperative: 1.) that the capacity of every member of this class to produce should be considerably enlarged to the very utmost of which his natural talents, if fully developed and given scope, are capable; 2.) that he should be better fed, better housed, better clad, and better provided with some of the comforts of life; 3.) that his mental, psychological, and physical potentialities should be so developed and equipped, and the economic and political affairs of the country should be so planned and organised, as to enable him to acquire and enjoy many of the good things of this world; 4.) that all such sources of inequality of income as are not warranted by corresponding personal contributions to the national wealth should be controlled immediately with a view to eradicating them; 5.) that the rulers and leaders of the country should not only be dedicated patriotic, honest, and just, but should be seen to be so by the working class; and

6.) that, to these ends, every member of the class should (a) be gainfully employed; (b) be assured of a minimum wage compatible with decent and respectable living; (c) be guaranteed unfettered and equal access to education, health, work, human dignity, and impartial justice; (d) be free to go to the polls, at not too long intervals, to choose those who will govern him; (e) be properly guided and instructed as to his moral, civic, and economic responsibilities to society; and (f) be given by his rulers and leaders an unfailing display of the attributes of discipline, devotion, probity, impartiality, justice, fair play, and utter respect for the sovereignty of the people.

It will be seen that the role of the working class in post-war Nigeria will depend on the extent to which they are permitted and equipped, by the rulers and leaders of the Federation to play any role at all, and on the willingness of the working class to play any allotted role.

I must state, categorically here, that I am taking, as given, the willingness and the ever-readiness of the Nigerian working class to play, at all times, their inherent all-embracing and all-pervasive role in the affairs of man and of Nigeria.

In doing this, I am not unmindful of the oft-repeated complaint that, even when afforded the opportunity, the Nigerian working class have not always given of their best. This is a charge which, over the years, I have found, both from personal experience and observation, to be completely misconceived.

I have no doubt at all in my mind that the Nigerian working class, like their counterparts in the advanced countries of the world, will always give of their very best, if the following minimum conditions coexist:

1.) Security of continued employment; 2.) Enlightened wage-policy; 3.) Congenial conditions of work; 4.) Good health as well as good general or technical education for the individual worker; 5.) Efficient supervision; 6.) Abolition of fringe benefits and other privileges; 7.) Exemplary industry, and devotion to duty on the part of the rulers and leaders, the administrators, managers and high executives, and appropriate and severe sanctions for deliberate acts of negligence, and slowing down of output.

Let us all, therefore, acknowledge and have faith in the willingness and readiness of the working class to play their all-embracing, all-pervasive, supreme, and, in the long run, decisive role in post-war Nigeria. At the same time, let all of us-rulers and leaders of thought alike-unite to do all in our power to make them fit as can be to play their role to the best of their ability, and with the utmost efficiency.

Above all, in all these things, let all the trade union officials and other working class leaders strive continuously to give to their trusting followers, at all times and in all circumstances, enlightened, constructive, and responsible leadership.
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Publication:Nigerian Tribune (Oyo State, Nigeria)
Date:Jul 8, 2018
Words:703
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