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    Tuesday, March 17, 2015

    NLC Has Lost Prestige, Influence —Oshiomhole

    Former President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and Governor of Edo State, southern Nigeria, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, has said that the NLC has lost prestige and influence in the eyes of Nigerians, particularly the workers.
    Oshiomhole made the observation in a congratulatory letter addressed to the new NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, urging him to provide a focused and dynamic leadership for the labour movement.
    His comment is not unconnected with the negative criticisms that trailed the administration of the immediate past President of the Congress, Comrade Abdulwahab Omar, particularly the housing scandal that runs into hundreds of millions of naira.
    “It must be obvious to you by now, Comrade President, that the Nigerian Labour Movement, and in particular, the Congress has lost a significant amount of prestige and influence in the eyes of the Nigerian working people and the Nigerian public at large. The Nigerian people no longer see the Congress as the “voice of the voiceless” and a bulwark against socio-economic and political oppression and injustices in the polity. The Congress is essentially viewed as either being complicit or at best indifferent to the cries of the poor working class people and the middle class citizens who are daily at the receiving end of an unjust social order.

    “It is against this background that your leadership must see its historic role beyond the “bread and butter’ issues, to re-assert its independence, re-connect with grassroots workers, including the forgotten rural majority and position itself as a major player in shaping Nigeria’s polity, economy and society consistent with the true traditions of the Congress and the interests of the Nigerian working families.”
    According to the governor, “there is no appropriate moment than now to also work assiduously to reposition the Congress and brace up to the expectations of the affiliates of the Congress and Nigerians as a whole, while also providing a focused and dynamic leadership that will chart a new course for the Nigerian labour movement as vanguard in the struggle for good governance, democratic consolidation and social justice.
    “Concomitantly, there is also the challenge of re-uniting and rebuilding confidence amongst all the affiliates of the Congress in the spirit of unity and solidarity that the Nigerian Labour Movement shares. In the same vein, there is also the important task of deepening the strategic connection between the Congress and the Nigerian civil society.

    “It is also crucial that we all recognise the urgent need to lift the Congress above the divisive and primordial differences now surreptitiously creeping into the Congress, and restore the pre-eminent position of the Congress as the foremost pan-Nigerian institution it has always been, capable of uniting all Nigerians around critical issues of development and good governance, irrespective of their religious, ethnic or regional background.
    “I must emphasize, at this juncture, that as Comrade President, you must see your victory as a collective and not personal one. Your tenure to lead the NLC is coinciding with one of the most critical periods in Nigeria’s history, politically and economically. Definitely, these are, indeed, challenging times that call for a more proactive and constructive approach in the defence of the interests of not only the working people but the entire Nigerian citizens. In this context, it is necessary that the new Congress leadership sharpens its capacity to engage public and private institutions at all levels in Nigeria and provide the needed checks and balances in the on-going democratic contestations in the polity.”

    The former NLC President also appealed to those who feel aggrieved by the outcome of the Congress election to resist the temptation of convening a factional congress, just as he asked them to sheathe their swords and extend a hand of fellowship to the new President to help reposition the Congress.
    “Let me seize this opportunity to appeal to my Comrades, in particular, Comrades Joe Ajaero, Issa Aremu and Igwe Achese to resist the temptation of convening a factional congress either on Friday or at any other date.
    “Having fought the good fight, there is honour in conceding to defeat even in the face of imperfections. I enjoin them all to submit to the demands of democratic principles by extending the hands of fellowship to the new leadership in order to get on with the task of repositioning the Congress.”
    He noted that it is generally understood in a typical Trade Union election that everybody is a winner and there are no losers, because, according to him, “as trade unionists, we are all Comrades, irrespective of our ideological or group political orientations.

    “These are challenging times, no doubt, and our Comrades need to be more circumspect. They should look at the bigger picture rather than being pre-occupied with personal grievances, considering that most of the issues in contention have been since resolved.”
    Commenting on the way forward for the NLC, the governor advised Comrade Wabba to work hard to reconcile with the aggrieved members of the Congress.
    “I also wish to call on the new President to extend genuine reconciliatory hands to the aggrieved parties in the interest of unity and solidarity of the Nigerian labour movement.
    “Nobody stands to benefit from any action that will weaken the Nigerian Labour Movement. Under no circumstances should labour activists be seen to be involved in any action that is capable of undermining the image, unity, strength and solidarity of the Nigerian labour movement.
    “We should not allow the class enemies of the Nigerian labour movement capitalise on temporal internal disagreement to further execute their evil agenda of weakening the moral authority of the leadership of the Nigerian labour movement,” he added.
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