Senator representing Edo North District, Adams Oshiomhole, on Tuesday, said the striking Labour Unions are not prioritizing the interests of Nigerian workers.
This was as he said the rationale for the commencement of Tuesday’s nationwide strike is misplaced, arguing that the Organised Labour is better off mobilising states to monitor the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding it signed with the Federal Government on October 2, 2023.
“I will publicly support an action against any government that thinks that we should lament away our hunger…unfortunately, this strike is not about those issues…we have to be careful not to mix our political opinion with our responsibilities because the issues confronting workers are so many that they should become the priority,” Oshiomhole told the State House Correspondents when he emerged from closed-door talks with Vice President Kashim Shettima at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.
The PUNCH reports that the Federal Government, on the night of October 2, agreed to fulfill several demands by the Organised Labour, amongst which was the payment of N35,000 to all federal workers as Wage Awards for the next six months.
The agreement also included the provision of Compressed Natural Gas-enabled vehicles and conversion kits to ease commuting nationwide.
But on Monday night, the Labour Centres announced the commencement of a nationwide strike to protest the battering of the NLC President, Joe Ajaero, and some other executives of the congress in Owerri, Imo State, on November 1, as well of the pending labour issues in Imo State.
The Union wrote their affiliates, such as the Academic Staff Union of Universities, National Union of Electricity Employees, Nigeria Union of Teachers, the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria, and the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, among others, ahead of the planned nationwide strike scheduled to begin midnight, November 14, 2023.
But Oshiomhole, a former Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (1999 – 2007), argued that Labour’s priorities were misplaced.
“The federal government had granted N35,000 Wage Award. And those discussions were supposed to be for and on behalf of not only the federal government but of all workers in Nigeria, including those employed by local governments and state governments.
“Now, I would have wished that somebody in the NLC recognise that the hunger in the stomach of federal employees is not any worse than that of state or local government employees.
“If these are the issues on the table, even as a senator, I will publicly support action against any government that thinks that we should lament away our hunger…You have to be careful not to be seen as doing the bidding of a particular candidate or a political party,” he remarked.
While kicking against violence against any individual, the former Edo State Governor called on Labour to mobilse its members in all 36 states to ensure that the FG fulfils its promises to ease the living conditions of Nigerians.
He advised, “Let me be clear. I do not support the brutalisation of any Nigerian…including the Labour Leader.
“But I’m saying, in terms of what you might call the hierarchy of needs and challenges that we face, I think that NLC should robustly engage all the state governors or governments who are not implementing the agreement that was midwife, courtesy of a national strike, not a federal government’s employees strike.
“So if you mobilise private sector workers, state employees, local government workers, and now there is an agreement on N35,000 across the board, I want to see NLC saying there will be no sleep in any state where this is not being implemented.”
Oshiomhole appeared at the State House in the company of two former members of the National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress, a former National Vice Chairman (North Central), Ahmed Wambai, and National Treasurer, Adamu Fanda.
He said they were at the Villa to congratulate President Bola Tinubu, who is away in Saudi Arabia, through the VP over the APC’s success in the Imo and Kogi elections on November 11.
“So first, we have to congratulate him, and since the President is not here, through him to the president, for the victory we recorded in the elections in Imo and Kogi,” he explained.
The Senator reasoned that the off-cycle elections in Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi states show how much power the people wield over those he described as vocal elements who sit in the country’s capital and opine over the politics of regions they have never visited.
He opined, “What has happened in Imo shows that urban elites cannot arrest this democracy. This forgotten majority of voiceless people…have the power of the ballot.
“That it is not what sponsored commentators say on television or sponsored writers write in papers that will inform their judgment. Their judgments will be formed by what they have seen the governor doing and what the governor is doing that touches them.
“The worst mistake you can make is to rely on sampling people in Abuja whom we call ward 17. They don’t exist in the States, but they are very vocal. They are the ones you will find being hosted by TV hosts. But those voiceless people are potent. They are the ones that vote.” (PUNCH). READ ALSO:
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