Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Between Governor Oshiomhole And Comrade Oshiomole

By Denzel Chukwudinma
Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole is a popular name to the poor and indigent in Nigeria. This is consequent on his popularity when he was President of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC).

*Adams Oshiomole 
Oshiomhole came to limelight when, as a labour leader, he aggressively fought the anti-people policies of the then President Olusegun Obasanjo. Before then, Oshiomhole had been in the trenches fighting for the rights of the Nigerian workers. He was once a threat to factories that treat their workers in inhuman manner.
He was everywhere at the time. I remember when he visited Texlon on LSDPC Compound in Amuwo-Odofin in 1995 to issue a warning to the owners of that company, to desist from “casualisation” of their workers and stop every inhuman treatment.
Workers saw Oshiomhole as the hero they had waited for to salvage them from the claws of their ‘taskmasters’ who wanted them to work without pay. Oshiomhole was a compassionate, amiable and respected leader at that time.
A primary school in Edo State 
His exploits earned him a place as the president of NLC. Among other achievements, Oshiomhole negotiated a 25 per cent wage increase for public workers. As a result of this achievement, he was elected for a second tenure, which lasted another four years, from 2003 to 2007. During his second term, the NLC president was on the side of the indigent. He showed up and faced what people feared the most – a former dictator-turned-president in a democratic dispensation. He led strikes and demonstrations against the unilateral increase in the pump price of petroleum products.
The exploits of the former labour leader positioned him as a hero in the mind of the ordinary Nigerian. It is a pity that Oshiomhole’s exploits as a labour leader were a ploy to acquire power and fame. The true character of this labour leader began to show as soon as he became the number one citizen of Edo State.
As governor, Oshiomhole began implementing anti-people policies. His philosophy changed; he no longer recognised the difference between the rich and the poor. The proverb of Euripedes, a Greek poet, became true in his case. Euripedes was of the opinion that “When a man’s stomach is full, it makes no difference whether he is rich or poor.”
Having eaten with the government of the then Umaru Yar’Adua administration as the number citizen of Edo, Oshiomhole’s stomach became full to the point that he forgot about the poor worker earning N8,500 as monthly wage then. He became anti-people in his approach to governance, taking sides with the government.
When President Jonathan hiked the pump price of the premium motor spirit (PMS) popularly known as petrol, Oshiomhole was silent all through the strike, but resurfaced as an appointee to negotiate on the side of government with the then Labour president and the Trade Union Congress (TUC). Oshiomhole became a voice speaking for the government.
The same Oshiomhole, after eating fat on the side of the government, came out to discredit the same path that made him. He now uses his office to make reckless statements. He said that the same NLC, which has been the congress championing the cause for a better future for the Nigerian workers, failed in its responsibilities because the body refused to play politics.
It was a shock to know that the former Labour leader has become the opposite of what he believed. He started owing state workers, and would clamp down on anyone who dared to speak out. On July 1, 2015, it was reported that the NLC in Edo threatened to go on strike, if the state government refused to pay workers’ salaries. Thousands of aggrieved local government employees being owed by the state government for more than eight months marched to the union’s state secretariat along James Watts Street, off Mission Road in Benin City, the state capital, to make their voices heard.
Oshiomhole’s clueless style of governance led him to request for a World Bank loan which was rejected by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala who advised against leaving Edo in heavy debt. The governor did not take it lightly, as he took the former minister to the media.
Recently, the former Labour leader shocked Nigerians when he took a new wife at the demise of his wife. Oshiomhole celebrated an elaborate wedding not minding that the lady in question, Iara Fortes, is about the age of his daughter. He did not stop at that, as he went to the media saying he met Iara Fortes as a virgin.
It is so clear that the priorities of Oshiomhole have changed, having tasted power, money and fame. It is a pity that the Oshiomhole we knew as the Labour leader is different from Governor Oshiomhole.
 * Chukwudinma, a social commentator, resides in Owerri, Imo State.

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