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A Strike Of No Public Sympathy For NLC President, Joe Ajaero, By Nwankwo T. Nwaezeigwe, PhD

  • A Timely Karma for a Corrupt and Cash n’ Carry NLC since Adams Oshiomhole

“I am Kokori! I am not a criminal! They are trying to kidnap me!” We struggled. Something told me that my assailants were security agents. They were big muscular creatures and I so diminutive, but they could not overpower me. Like a frenzied demon, I fought viciously against all attempts to push me into the car. I held on to the open car door. One of them left the fray and moved to the back of their car. He opened the car boot and returned with a spray gas that he sprayed into my face. The pungent chemical stunned me and momentarily knocked me off balance. They immediately bundled my slack form into the car. The struggle took not less than two minutes. Engines revved into life. Tires screeched. Two cars flew out of the shadows into the night, one contained me, in the company of people I by now guessed formed a squad. A special squad. In my own vehicle were four men. The other car followed with two or three more men.”

WAHALA: NLC, TUC, Declare Nationwide Strike over Attack on Ajaero in Imo -  PRNigeria News

That was Chief Frank Ovie-Kokori, the erstwhile General Secretary of Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), a hero of the present democratic dispensation and scion of the vicious June 12 liberation struggles, recounting his ordeal with the notorious General Sani Abacha Gestapo on the day of his final arrest and subsequent incarceration, which consequently led to the collapse of Worker’s resistance against the annulment of June 12, 1993 Presidential election.


The question is where is Chief Frank Ovie Kokori today and how far did he benefit from that struggle that nearly cost him his life and saw the callous death of Chief M. K. O. Abiola, Kudirat his wife, Chief Alfred Rewane and the journalist Bagauda Kaltho, among others? Chief Anthony Enahoro had to disguise as an old woman for him to be smuggled outside Nigeria through the Benin Republic border. Chief Abraham Adesanya his deputy chose to stay at home to fight the battle, which resulted to his narrow escape with his driver from General Sani Abacha’s Hit-Squad.

The democracy the present morally corrupted political leaders abuse today with impunity with the active connivance of the Judiciary led by such gangrenous Appeal and Supreme Court Judges as Justice Haruna  Tsammani and Justice John Inyang Okoro was the sacrificial efforts of the likes of Chief Frank Ovie-Kokori, Alfred Rewane, Chief Anthony Enahoro, Chief Abraham Adesanya, Chief M. K. Abiola, Mrs. Kudirat Abiola and many other heroic commanders and soldiers of democracy.

Chief Olu Falaye, Prof. Omo Omoruyi, Chief Gani Fawehimni, Kudirat Abiola, Alfred Rewane,   Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu (rtd), Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Dr. Fred Faseun, Okwadike Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Funso Williams, Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti, Chief Ayo Opadokun, Balarabe Musa, Prof. Festus Iyayi, Chief Olisa Agbakoba, Chief Adekunle Ajasin, Col. Tanko Umar, Prof Pat Utomi, Dr. Ogaga Ifowodo, Dr. Kayode John Fayemi,  Chima Ubani, Mr. Odia Ofeimun, Mr. Kunle Ajibade, Ayo Obe, Lt.-Gen. Alani Akinrinade, Paschal Bafyau, Polycap Nwite and Arthur Agwuncha Nwankwo, among other unsung and unreported patriots.

Today those who never contributed a dime of their blood and sweat, which regrettably included those who openly betrayed the cause of that struggle for democracy, are the very ones not only enjoying the fruits of that struggle but the ones destroying it. For how long shall a coward stay concealed under his bed while political rascals rape his wife?

In 1942, Comrade (Chief) Michael Athokhamien Ominu Imoudu of the then Railway Workers Union marched on the residence of the Colonial Governor of Nigeria in defence of the workers’ “Cost of Living Allowance.” He was arrested, detained and subsequently exiled to a remote village in the Midwest part of the then Western Nigeria, from January 1943 to May 20, 1945.

Chief Michael Imoudu on his return from exile was shortly after elected President of Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUCN). From that point his interest in Nigerian nationalism rekindled and he began to mobilize the Nigerian workers for Nigeria’s independence struggles. Thus the Nigerian workers became partners in the nation’s independence struggles.

It is a historical truism that Chief Michael Imoudu did not engage himself in fraudulent acquisition of wealth at the expense of the workers and down-trodden Nigerian masses. He led a fulfilled and humble life without any stigma linked with betrayal of Nigerian workers living beyond a century on mother-earth. Can the same sacrifice be said of the present class of Labour leaders in Nigeria? To what extent does the present class of Labour Union leaders understand that the welfare of the working class is intrinsically tied to the quality of a country’s political leadership?

The truth cannot be denied that the only solution to the present state of political precipice in Nigeria is a surgical uprising of the people; call it revolution if you like, against the present entrenched class of putrid political misfits, morally corrupt and bankrupt, masquerading as Nigeria’s leadership. The Nigerian Judiciary likewise shamelessly smells of unparalleled corruption beyond all moral comprehensions.

The Nigerian armed forces have lost their moral values founded on celebrated gallantry, moral principles and untainted patriotism. The armed forces which for close to twenty years, could not subdue the menacing armed Muslim herdsmen, Bandits, Boko Haram, and ISWAP cannot be entrusted with the task of a revolutionary change in Nigeria. The only option left for positive change to manifest in Nigeria is therefore the option of the masses’ power.

The Labour Unions which once traditionally stood up with unblemished principles founded on collective welfare of the workers and by extension the masses, defence of democratic principles and, fight against any form injustice have ignominiously succumbed to cash n’ carry unionism, leprously infested with degrading corruption and outright betrayal of Nigerian workers, courtesy of Adams Oshiomhole thesis. When Nigerian Labour Union leaders threaten strike, they do so not for the interest of workers but to create a platform to bargain for the amount of bribe they would collect from the Government.

Since the time of Adams Oshiomhole as NLC President, the leaderships of Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (NLC) have degenerated to self-inflicted mockery as icons of clay-footed giants, moral cacophony, ideological bankruptcy, malignant corruption and celebrated betrayals of the Nigerian workers and masses. As Deputy President of Nigerian Labour Congress, Adams Oshiomhole used all the arsenals of his connection with General Sani Abacha to frustrate all the efforts of Mr. Pascal Bafyau—the NLC President to mobilize the Nigerian workers first, to support Chief M. K. O. Abiola, and second, to rise up against the annulment of June 12, 1993 Presidential election.

It took Chief Frank Ovie-Kokori—the General Secretary of the Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) to mobilize members of his Union and consequently confronted General Sani Abacha frontally. It will interest Nigerians to know that as the Chief Executive Officer of the most powerful Trade Union in Nigeria, Chief Frank Ovie-Kokori has several opportunities to flood the streets and roads of Nigeria with his private Petroleum Filing Stations, but he did not, while his subordinates did. He lives today in near abject poverty like Chief Michael Imoudu. These were the real patriotic and selfless Labour Union leaders Nigeria ever produced.

Compare Chief Frank Ovie-Kokori for risked his life  fighting for the democracy Nigerians enjoy and abuse today with Adams Oshiomhole who betrayed the same struggles for democracy in Nigeria. Today, no person among the class of Labour Union leaders since the inception of Nigeria as a nation reaped one-tenth of Adams Oshiomhole’s mouth-watering political benefits.

From NLC President to Edo State Governor for eight years; and then to National Chairman of APC, before landing to his current position of Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, all watered with the betrayal of Nigerian workers.  Adams Oshiomhole taught Nigerian Trade Union leaders that it pays better to negotiate for oneself first before negotiating for the workers.

As the American Civil Rights icon Malcolm X rightly put it: “To me, the thing that is worse than death is betrayal. You see, I could conceive death, but I could not conceive betrayal.” The leadership of Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) since the time of Adams Oshiomhole has been embroiled in messy corruption and betrayal of the working masses both organized and unorganized. This is tradition Joe Ajaero and other Trade Union leaders have adopted in their disgraceful approach to faithfully resolving the criminal upholding of the last Presidential election result in favour of the masses and the current state of the spiraling economic woes of the Nigerian nation.

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and its twin corrupt and bankrupt sister Trade Union Congress (TUC) are telling Nigerians that their members will embark of nationwide industrial strike beginning from Wednesday November 8, 2023, because the NLC President Mr. Joe Ajaero was arrested and brutalized by members of Nigeria Police Force at Owerri, Imo State Capital. To state the Gospel truth, the threat is just one way of raising clandestine gratuity for Joe Ajaero, because they know that the next step will be an invitation by Bola Ahmed Tinubu who specializes in bribery and corruption to discuss the cushioning of the beating by means of US dollars. Indeed, by fixing the strike on Wednesday 8 November, 2023 and not immediately on Monday 6 November, 2023, the Union Leaders want to afford the Bola Ahmed Tinubu the window for cushioning negotiation.

There had been countless instances that demanded for general strike by the Nigerian workers and, what did the Labour leaders do? Each time the Labour Union leaders would be settled by the Federal Government with mouth-watering thousands of US dollar bribes in cash in accordance to Adams Oshiomhole’s doctrine of seek ye first the kingdom of your personal stomachs before seeking the welfare of the workers.

President Goodluck Jonathan on January 1, 2012, announced the removal of Petroleum subsidy, which raised the pump price of PMS (Fuel) from 65 Naira to 141 Naira per liter. That was at a time when one US dollar exchanged at 180 Naira and, the minimum wage was twenty-five thousand Naira per month.

Twenty four hours after the announcement, being January 2, mass demonstrations were called by Nigeria Labour Union leaders and members of the opposition APC—the current ruling Party, and consequently the streets of Lagos, Abuja and Kano were flooded with demonstrators. Bola Ahmed Tinubu was there. Muhammadu Buhari was there. Pastor Tunde Bakare was there; and Femi Falana was there. By January 6, the demonstrations had spread to other major cities mainly in Southern Nigeria.
On 9 January, the Nigerian Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress declared a nationwide strike in support of the demonstrations and against the removal of oil subsidy. They were given the full backing by Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), and Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and other professional unions. That collective mass action against President Goodluck Jonathan’s removal of oil subsidy soon metamorphosed into what became known as “Occupy Nigeria.”
On January 16, after a lengthy negotiation with NLC and TUC leaders, in which thousands of US dollars exchanged hands, President Jonathan claimed that part of the oil subsidy had been restored, thereby pegging the pump price of petrol at 97 Naira per liter from 141 Naira. Ironically all the members of the present ruling APC were the vanguards of the January 2012 anti-subsidy removal demonstrations. Today the same Femi Falana who was active appearing on Channels Television to instigate the masses against the removal of oil subsidy failed to speak out both against the removal of the same Oil subsidy and Bola Tinubu’s forged Chicago State University degree simply because Bola Ahmed Tinubu is a Yoruba man like him and coupled with the subtle threat over his wife’s application for the title of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).

Today the same people that demonstrated on the streets of Abuja, Lagos, Benin, Ibadan, Kaduna, Kano and Port Harcourt in 2012 against President Jonathan’s removal of Oil subsidy have become more that ten folds deadlier and heinous than President Goodluck Jonathan. Yet all the Nigerian workers and masses are sitting like castrated oriental slaves watching over a naked woman. The question again is has the economic situation in Nigeria improved since the time of President Goodluck Jonathan and why had the Nigerian Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress not considered it a necessity to apply the same pill they applied against President Jonathan to both Muhammadu Buhari and Bola Ahmed Tinubu?

The last Presidential election was not only a daylight robbery of the wills of the Nigerian masses by the combined evil forces of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Judiciary, but a frontal assault on the Nigerian workers whose dedicated political Party—Labour Party was robbed the most. The Nigerian masses had expected the Labour Unions to rise up and protect Nigerian democracy by calling out the workers and masses to protest in the spirits of Michael Imoudu and Frank Ovie-Kokori; rather they chose to play the Adams Oshiomhole Judas Iscariot spirit.

But what did the Nigerian Labour Congress do when the pepper-soup of mass demonstration was still hot? They told the Nigerian masses that they were relying on the gangrenous corrupt Judiciary to grant justice to the Nigerian masses, knowing fully well that a cup of clean water on a leprous hand can never be clean.

Fuel Subsidy was said to have been removed by the same people who protested against its removal by President Goodluck Jonathan in 2012 and fuel is now sold at 600 Naira per liter, with One US Dollar now exchanged at 1015 Naira at the parallel market as at November 6, 2023. Yet, all the Labour Unions—NLC and TUC could do is to bark like Ukala dogs threatening untenable industrial strikes which no soon evaporated with wads of irresistible thousands of US dollars squeezed into their hands.

The Union leaders sat with the chief priests of political corruption in Nigeria and purported to have negotiated the sum of thirty-five thousand Naira minimum wage per month on behalf of the Nigerian workers at the exchange rate of 1015 Naira to one US dollar. What it means is that the Nigerian Government worker on level 01 is paid 31 US dollars per month.

The question then is how much does a Professor in a Nigerian University earn per month when converted to US dollars under 1015 Naira to one US dollars exchange rate, compared to their colleagues in other African countries? Can a Professor’s one month salary purchase a return ticket to United Arab Emirates today, as it was conveniently the case during the time of President Goodluck Jonathan?
The Nigerian Police Force had the audacity to beat up Joe Ajaero because as a corrupt security outfit, they know that the Labour Union leaders have been collecting money from Bola Ahmed Tinubu at the expense of Nigerian workers and as such they lack every moral defence mechanism. The Police cannot try such anyway on the Presidents of ASUU, NBA, NMA and NUPENG.

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