A former President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Senator representing Edo North senatorial District in the National Assembly, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, has asked organised labour to rethink its ongoing nationwide strike.
Speaking to State House correspondents on Tuesday, after a meeting with Vice President Kashim Shettima, Oshiomhole expressed concern that the ongoing strike seemed politically motivated rather than driven by a concrete worker-focused agenda.
While reiterating his stance against brutality against any Nigerian, the former Edo State governor and former national chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), urged Labour to focus on advancing workers’ rights rather than partisan politics.
“Labour cannot be apolitical because politics is about the people. I argued when I was in NLC that nobody has a right to be partisan,l much more than those who turn the wheel of our industrial progress.
“But in saying that, we must recognise that, however, how hard you try, when it comes to politics, people are going to have different reasons for supporting different candidates.
“You have to be careful not to be seen to be doing the bidding of a particular candidate or a particular political party. As President of the NLC, I made no friends with any politician in Edo State.
“I am not anybody’s boy. I want to make my decisions. I take responsibility for those decisions. You can’t find me in the house of a politician. Not because I hate them. Because they represent the value that I represent.
“I represent those guys who can only vote. Even though the law allows that they be voted for, unfortunately, the system hardly throws them up. So, I have to prioritise what is it that I’m ready to die for, and what is it that I’m ready to accommodate,” he said.
Oshiomhole, who advised Organised Labour to engage vigorously on issues of unpaid salaries, cautioned against actions perceived as overtly partisan.
“The Federal Government had granted N35,000 increase. And those discussions were supposed to be for and on behalf of not only the Federal Government but on behalf of all workers in Nigeria, including those employed by local governments and state governments.
“And the additional revenue accruing from the withdrawal of subsidy trickles down to the state and the local government.
“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 the hunger in the stomach of those state employees, nor local government employees.
“If these are the issues on the table, even as a Senator, I will publicly support an action against any government that thinks that we should lament away our hunger while the people do what they do.
“Unfortunately, this strike is not about those issues. And I think we have to be careful not to mix our political opinions with our responsibilities because the issues confronting workers are so many that they should become the priority.
“But let me be clear. I do not support the brutalisation of any Nigerian. I emphasise, any Nigerian, including a journalist, including the unemployed. Of course, including Labour Leader,” he added