Organised labour has congratulated the pioneer president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Comrade Hassan Sunmonu, and foremost African industrialist, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, on the conferment of honorary doctorate degrees on them by the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, as part of the 41st convocation of the university on Saturday.
A statement by the registrar of the university, Ahmed Abdullahi Kundila, said Dangote and Sunmonu were honoured for their immense contributions to the economic and human development of the nation.
In his congratulatory message to the awardees, general secretary of National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN), Comrade Issa Aremu, recalled the outstanding leadership of Sunmonu as the founding president of the NLC, from 1978 to 1984.
He said, “Remarkably, NLC under his leadership fought and won the battle to make May 1 a public holiday, fought and won the struggle for a new minimum wage of N125 ($240) in 1981 under President Shehu Shagari’s administration.”
Notwithstanding the divisive strategy of the Second Republic politicians aimed at splitting the NLC, Aremu observed that Sunmonu commendably sustained the unity of the trade union movement through an all-inclusive, ideological movement.
“As secretary-general of the Organisation of African Trade Unions Unity (OATUU), he also ensured that the voices of African workers were heard and respected in the global arena,” he said.
The labour leader, who is also the vice president of 50-million members Industrial Global Union based in Geneva, Switzerland, also said the honouring of Dangote as a leading African investor and industrialist was well-deserved, given his globally-acknowledged contributions to industrialisation and mass job creation in Africa.
He also commended Dangote, Africa’s richest man, for his imprints in social responsibility, which manifested in the building and inauguration of blocks of hostels worth N1.2 billion for ABU students.
Aremu hailed ABU for the recognition of the duo of enterprise and capital, represented by Dangote, as well as dignity of labour, represented by Sunmonu, through the conferment of the honorary degrees.
He called on other African universities to learn from ABU that recognition must be given to labour and capital as critical factors of growth and development in Africa.