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NLC Betrays Nigerian Workers

By Che Oyinatumba
Published November 17th, 2010

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and TUC after a clandestine meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan, called off the 3 days warning strike just less than 24 hours after Nigerian workers had been mobilised and their hopes raised high that they have found a messiah in the NLC. The impotent reason given by NLC was that President Goodluck Jonathan has spoken to them and pledged his honour that he will implement the new minimum wage.

If NLC knew there was an unexplored avenue of engagement, why call the strike and promise the Nigerian worker that there was no going back except the demand was met? It is on record that NLC said that it has passed the stage of negotiation with Government on Minimum wage since April and all that remained was implementation. NLC speaking through its Chairman on Strike Committee, Mr Promise Adewusi said that it will not succumb to the antics of last minute meeting with the Government on the eve of the strike. What do we see? This same Mr. Promise Adewusi was the one justifying (sic) why NLC had to call off the strike after a last minute meeting with the President.

Is it that NLC does not understand the ABC of struggle or is their strategic and planning department underfunded by international donor agencies? Strike is the last weapon in the arsenal of any Union and it should be used sparingly, in fact it should not be used if there are openings for further discussions.
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Some Nigerian workers believing NLC had travelled out of their stations and will now be forced to make a return trip despite wanting to chill out till the public holiday slated for next week. Without casting the first stone, can NLC tell us what truly happened at the Villa that made them to call off the strike? Did Ghana Must Go enter the wrong boot or did NLC call off the strike in the best interest of Nigerian workers? Can Teacher Adbulwaheed Omar led NLC tell the Nigerian worker what he has done with the check off dues of the Nigerian worker that is religiously deducted from the source monthly? Or should the Nigerian worker ask EFCC to investigate NLC and ascertain if the Congress is as corrupt free as they want Nigerians to believe? Do they use the check off dues of toiling workers to travel abroad for International Conferences that do not impact anything on the welfare of the workers but merely to enrich the pockets of the acclaimed leaders of Congress? Come to think about it, where was Teacher Omar during this crisis?

At the Labour House where this betrayal was communicated to Nigerians, Teacher Omar was visibly absent. Can NLC tell us where the Workers President was when this betrayal took place? Is wherever he was more important than the plight of Nigerian workers? President Goodluck Jonathan had to cancel his trip just to talk with NLC delegation and yet Teacher Omar did not deem it fit to address Nigerian workers on the reason why the leadership of NLC and TUC chose to betray Nigerians. Comrade Peter Esele was in attendance and looked out of place as the media had reported that TUC reluctantly joined the call for the warning strike.

That the NLC listened to Mr. President and wanted to respect the President, is a cock and bull story. It is an expression of failure of leadership on the part of NLC. When the National Assembly approved jumbo allowances to themselves, did they listen to the cry of Nigerians? NLC told us that a Councillor earns 120,000 a month and we thought NLC had thought through their argument before commandeering the workers to down tools. Nigerian workers are not robots; even robots need time to boot before functioning. In case NLC does not know or knows and pretend to forget, it is not easy to pick up tools and continue the job at the same speed. Nigerian workers obeyed their Union, had absolute trust in it and the leadership of NLC betrayed the Nigerian worker absolutely. Couldn’t NLC for the sake of their mobilizer who was shot and wounded in the arm by a Mobile Policeman at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja continue this strike till the Policeman is fished out and prosecuted? This is the same lackadaisical attitude to plight of comrades who are wounded in the course of NLC clarion call that now makes Comrade Chima Ubani death seem in vain.

Federal Government is threatening to lay off workers in the Power sector; has the NLC engaged the government or is NLC seeking the sack so that they can negotiate a better deal at the expense of the sacked workers? What has NLC done about the demand by Nigerians that the purchase of car scandal that rocked the House of Representatives be investigated and all found guilty be brought to book? When they approved all manner of purchases that made a touch light more than the salary of most workers, did they listen to the cries of Nigeria? What has NLC done about the eclipse in Nigeria that has affected artisans and other members of the small scale industries?  Throughout the press briefing, Labour House was powered by generator.  NLC wants to confront Government and in most part of the week, the lift to NLC offices do not work, the NLC Office is dilapidated and the Teacher Omar led NLC cannot fix it.

Allah, if I were President Goodluck Jonathan, I will ask EFCC to probe the NLC. Corruption is not only found among elected leaders/Politicians.

Some of the so called Come and raid sorry Comrades are more corrupt than James Ibori and Cecilia Ibru combined. NLC has members in the power sector, what has NLC done to make sure that Nigerians have light to actualise the much touted vision 2020? NLC should tell us, what was promised them, for I have in my email, an allegation against NLC, that because of the rumoured “loan” given to NLC to buy buses from China, some members of the National Executive Council (NEC) of NLC saw no need to bite the finger that fed it.  

There is nothing patriotic in calling off the strike. NLC knew that Nigerians were ready but to justify the interest of the enemies of the workers to which NLC has become an accomplice, they allowed a half day strike which NLC had no control over. Wednesday November 10th Strike was successful not because NLC enforced it but because the Nigerian worker has had enough and was willing to pay the price, only for NLC to betray him in the middle of the sea. If NLC is sincere and not after the pocket of their leaders, they should insist that the implementation of Minimum wage begins first in Edo; after all Governor Adam Oshiomhole was the President of NLC and rode on the popularity of anti-fuel increase demonstrations to become Governor.

Nigerian worker, time has come for you to start asking questions. In whose interest is NLC working? Do you really need NLC? Can’t the Nigerian worker form a new Union that will truly be in the best interest of Nigerian workers and not dose balancing books for international donors? Nigerian worker, what has you branch Chairman done for you instead of parading himself around answering Comrade Chair?

I raised the above at the NLC Press Conference and Comrade John Odah, the General Secretary of NLC threatening to call his boys to throw me out. And one moron carried out this threat and Citizen Che Oyinatumba was “politely” shown the way out of the hall. I bear no grudges but it is clear now what the kind of leadership we have at NLC. I leave the Nigerian worker to judge if NLC acted in the best interest of workers.


©Che Oyinatumba  

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