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Labour rejects third term • It’s an insult on the psyche of Nigerians –Oshiomhole

Posted by Sun News Online on 2006/05/02 | Views: 2546 |

Labour rejects third term • It’s an insult on the psyche of Nigerians –Oshiomhole

Workers’ disenchantment with the third term agenda of President Olusegun Obasanjo was manifest Monday when they humiliated the Federal Capital Territory Police Commissioner, Mr Lawrence Alobi, following his order that some members of civil society groups be arrested for displaying and distributing anti-third term leaflets during May Day celebration in Abuja.

Workers’ disenchantment with the third term agenda of President Olusegun Obasanjo was manifest Monday when they humiliated the Federal Capital Territory Police Commissioner, Mr Lawrence Alobi, following his order that some members of civil society groups be arrested for displaying and distributing anti-third term leaflets during May Day celebration in Abuja.

This came even as the president of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, said Nigerian workers reject third term and would move against it genuinely as it was an insult on the psyche of Nigerians.

Echoes of this resounded across the nation where also came words and gestures of solidarity from groups, individuals and state governments for the workers.
The various administrations in the states particularly Lagos, Kano, Plateau, Rivers, Imo and Anambra announced various welfare packages including salary increase, vehicle loans, regularisation of casual workers, employment and promotions.

The workers who had earlier marched in groups with various banners and placards bearing anti-third term messages warned President Obasanjo not to turn Nigeria to Liberia with his desire to rule for life. They had gone wild, when two members of the Socialist Democratic Movement and United Action for Democracy were arrested while distributing leaflets considered offensive by the police boss.

As the two were held by their trousers and were being dragged out of the venue, the enraged workers, who had been observing the drama, intervened and freed the men.

The leadership of the NLC saved the CP from a mob attack triggered by his insistence that the two men should be arrested and taken to police station.

Sources at the Labour House confided in Daily Sun that the decision to hold the May Day rally in Abuja was at the request of the Presidency protocol officials as the only condition to make the President attend.
However, President Obasanjo, it was learnt, had to shelve the planned attendance due to unfavourable security reports bordering on likelihood of workers misbehaviour over third term. He was represented by the Minister of Labour, Dr. Hassan Lawal.

Some of the banners and placards displayed by the workers’ groups read: "Labour rejects third term", "Don’t plunge Nigeria into confusion as in Liberia", "You have tried your best, go away", "Third term in office, for what, for who", "Obasanjo again?, no way", etc.

In his speech, Mr. Oshiomhole said there was no way labour would support third term but would not join emergency activists who were only crying wolf over the proposition because they were out of power and reckoning, saying labour would identify with activists like Chief Gani Fawehinmi who has antecedent in fighting for the rule of law.

Oshiomhole who presided over his last May Day as NLC president wondered how the political situation would have been in 2007 should Chief Obasanjo and Atiku be in good terms, saying "Comrades, their fight is good for this democracy, Atiku and Obasanjo in good terms in 2007 would have been too suffocating"

Oshiomhole, who lambasted Chief Audu Ogbeh over his new posture recalled how he was praising Obasanjo to high heavens and was even warning the NLC against daring the President when his assistance was sought by labour leadership to help prevail on the President over reduction of fuel price.
"Ogbeh needs not be pitied, he who lives by the dagger will sure die by the dagger, Ogbeh told us off, boasting that PDP will rule for 50 years, now that he is in opposition, let’s see him remaining in opposition for 50 years as he predicted before he fell out of power", he stressed.

In the President’s speech read by the labour minister, he called on the workers to support and complement government’s effort aimed at promoting democracy and good governance and also to ensure sustainable growth and development.

Government, he promised, remained totally committed to building a better country and remain motivated by the long term benefits inherent in its policies and programmes.

Senate President, Chief Ken Nnamani commended the labour leadership for its roles in evolving good governance and the desired partnership that has engendered better welfare for the working populace as well as better understanding of government.
The NLC was charged to be at the centrestage of the struggle to save Nigeria from being destroyed by forces that are opposed to change and progress.

Abia State Governor Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu gave this charge during the ceremony marking the 2006 Workers Day at the Umuahia Township Stadium.
He said that struggle against third term is one that should be the concern of every Nigerian and not of Orji Kalu.

"It is a struggle for the soul of Nigeria. This is why every Nigerian, especially labour should stand up and oppose the wicked plot", Kalu said.
"Nobody has monopoly of knowledge. The present leadership at the centre should respect the rule of law and constitution and vacate office at the expiration of its tenure on May 29, next year," Kalu said.
He told the workers that no responsible government could neglect its workforce and reassured them of continuous improvement on their welfare through regular payment of salaries and allowances, pensions and gratuities, promotions, training and retraining.

In Ekiti State, the governor, Dr Ayodele Fayose, reiterated the commitment of his administration to the welfare of workers in the state public service. Speaking during the 2006 Workers Day celebration in Ado Ekiti, Governor Fayose said apart from paying workers salaries and allowances promptly, promoting deserving workers as and when due and implementing the twelve-and-a-half salary increase to workers one of the major preoccupations of his government was to make life more meaningful to them.
In Lagos State, the Governor, Bola Tinubu and human rights activist, Femi Falana charged workers to rise and fight against the third term proposition.

Governor Tinubu who was represented at the May Day rally organised by the Trade Union Congress (TUC) at the National Stadium in Surulere, by the Commissioner for Training and Establishment, Ebenezer Akinbolade, challenged workers to resist any form of slavery the ruling elite may be out to perpetrate.

The governor announced to the cheering workers the review of the minimum wage by the state to reflect the federal rate in all the allowances.
Falana stated that it was the responsibility of both the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the TUC to team up and fight anybody that may want to truncate democracy.

Speaking earlier at the rally, the President-General of TUC, Comrade Peace Obiajulu, called for restraint and caution in the current political manoeuvering in order not to endanger the polity.

She said that leaders should desire to lead for the love and care of Nigerians and not because of title.
The TUC boss lamented that government’s reforms have not transformed into any relief for Nigerians as the economy was still bedeviled with inflation, unemployment, insecurity, lack of adequate infrastructure like electricity, water and good roads, amongst others.

The Rivers State government in a special gesture ordered the state civil service commission to absorb all the casual workers in all government parastatals within the next one month.
Governor Peter Odili who gave the directive during the Workers Day Celebration was moved to hear that some employees engaged since 1996 had remained on the casual list even after he had given directive during the 2005 May Day that they should be reabsorbed.

He asked that the appointments of the affected workers be regularised within the next one month.
The Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, identified with the plight of Nigerian workers.
In a statement signed by the National President, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, the umbrella body of Pentecostalism in Nigeria described the work force of any nation as the backbone of that nation. He therefore enjoined employers of labour in the country, to encourage the work force because "they constitute the people who had laboured to make sure that our economy is alive today."

The General Overseer of Word of Life Bible Church, Warri also cautioned workers not to see their employment solely as a meal ticket, but must do everything humanly possible to enhance their individual worth.

Workers in Oyo State, celebrated the May Day with fanfare, pouring encomiums on the governor of the state, Otunba Christopher Adebayo Alao Akala for giving their welfare priority since he assumed office as the governor of the state.

The workers, who converged at the popular Adamasingba stadium, Ibadan for the celebration commended Governor Akala for fulfilling all the failed promises of his predecessor within the first 100 days of his administration.
Also, the state governor used the occasion to flag off the newly approved Motorcycle Loan Scheme for the public servants in the state.

The celebration in Osun State which was attended by thousands of workers in an unprecedented manner became a carnival in support of the Governor Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola for second term the moment the State NLC Chairman, Comrade Sulaimon Oseni reacted to a recent remark by ex-Governor Bisi Akande that he would sack workers again if he had the opportunity to rule the state again.

"They (Akande and co) have said if they come again they would sack workers, it is now the duty of every worker in this state to go back to the trenches and move to every cranny of this state to mobilise the people so that our enemies do not come back again," the labour leader said.

The NLC boss had earlier thanked the governor for the reinstatement of workers sacked by the last AD regime and for the promotion of workers and other pro-worker policies of his government.
Governor Oyinlola, in his speech thanked the workers for their support in the 2003 elections and for co-operating with his government since its inception.
Demand for solution to the lingering problem of electricity and fuel supply topped the grievances of workers in Katsina on the occasion of 2006 May Day Celebration.

The State Chairman of Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) Comrade Aliyu Matazu, echoed the public despondency over the twin problem in his address during the celebration at Katsina township stadium.
He lamented that the two critical sectors had impacted negatively on the productivity and welfare of Nigerian workers and the general public. Matazu stressed that the prevailing power failure had crippled the industrial sector with the attendant increment in the level of unemployment, cost of production and general impoverishment.

Workers in the Imo State Public Service have cause to smile as the state government has lifted embargo on promotion.
Announcing the cheering news at Dan Anyiam Stadium Owerri during workers Day celebration, the State Governor, Chief Achike Udenwa, said that his administration always placed workers welfare on its priority list.

Anambra State workers on Monday went home from the Workers Day Celebration happier as Governor Peter Obi gave immediate answers to some of their problems, just as he increased their salaries by N500.
Obi, who used the ceremony held at the Dr. Alex Ekwueme Square to release his integrated development programme for the state, also released the 2005/2006 promotion of workers allegedly withheld by the immediate past government.

Announcing the package in response to the litany of requests made by the NLC in the address of its state Chairman, Dr. Godwin Ibekwe, Obi assured the workers that he would be honest and sincere with them as long as he remains the Governor of the state and called for patriotism from the workers.

Governor Joshua Dariye of Plateau State agreed to pay workers in the state 12 and a half per cent salary increase ; thus putting to rest the decision by the workers’ union to give the state government 21 days ultimatum before embarking on strike.

The governor has also announced the decision of government to embark on the construction of 250 housing units for civil servants
May Day was marked with rejection of the third term plot by thousands of workers in Kano who thronged the Kofar Mata Sani Abacha Stadium on Monday. Daily Sun correspondent who visited the venue of the celebration reported that workers demonstrated their open anger against the President and his cohorts and warned them not to throw Nigeria into conflagration: "we warn those plotting for the elongation of the tenure of one man to the detriment of this country that they should desist from such a move – they will be held responsible if Nigeria is thrown into conflagration by their selfish and self-serving plots; the message to Mr. President is that the Nigerian people from this part of the country do not want him and his team to stay a minute longer than May 29, 2007," Aminu Suleiman, Secretary of NLC, Kano State said to loud banging, drumming and clapping by the workers.

The Governor in his May Day address urged the workers not to take the law into their hands and work peacefully with his government to actualise its programmes for the State. He thereafter announced a vehicle loan package of N500,000.00 to be paid back instalmentally in three years for the workers.

The factionalisation of labour in the country was further depicted in Asaba, the Delta state capital, as the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC ) held two separate rallies in different locations in commemoration of the international workers’ day, While the NLC which was represented by about 29 affiliate unions held its rally at the Asaba Township stadium , the TUC represented by about 22 affiliate Unions had its own at the Oshimili South Local Government arcade.

In his speech at the NLC rally in Asaba, Delta State Governor, James Ibori who was represented by the Deputy governor , Benjamin Elue, called on the workers to unite and work harmoniously. While promising to create an enabling environment, the government urged labour unions to remain focused and united.

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