Oshiomhole visits Shettima, speaks on Imo election, says ongoing strike not on issues
Former Governor of Edo State and ex President of Nigerian Labour Congress Tuesday paid a visit to Vice President Kashim Shettima.
Addressing Journalists at the State House, he said he was there along with others to congratulate the VP following the successes in the off- cycle elections in Kogi, Imo and Bayelsa State.……Read Full Story Here………
Speaking specifically on the Imo Situation, Senator Oshiomhole said Hope Uzodinma’s victory shows that democracy cannot be arrested by urban elites.
He said, “We are party members and these two gentlemen were members of the National Working Committee. He was national treasurer (Adamu Fanda); the other (Ahmed Adamu Wambai) was National Vice Chairman and I was Chairman and we have had a robust relationship with His Excellency the vice president.
“So first we have to congratulate him, since the President is not here, through him the president, for the victory we recorded in the elections in Bayelsa Imo and Kogi. And basically, to greet him and to take advantage of our privileged relationship to have a handshake with the Vice President.
On Off-cycle elections he said “Particularly for Imo state, there have been a lot of forces working to undermine security in Imo State. And they’ve resorted to measures that adding tension in Imo state. And some people even want to plunge the state into darkness, believing that when it is dark the people cannot vote.
“But I think for me my take away from the Imo election is that these forgotten majority of people who are voiceless who can’t even access you, but they have the power of the ballot.That it is not what sponsored commentators say on television or sponsored writers write in newspapers that will inform their judgment, Their judgments will be formed by what they have seen the governor doing, and those aspects of what the governor is doing that touch them.
“For example, when the governor construct a road to the village, a village that was not accessible before and you tell those villagers that the governor is bad. They say ‘He may be bad for you o but he’s good for me.’
“When I saw the governor commissioning a very modern hospital in a remote area, and you go on Television to say ‘That Governor Hope is a bad man.’
“They’ll say ‘He’s bad to you. But he gave us hospital. We are going to give him our votes. For me, that is the beauty of democracy.
“And it also put on notice, commentators that they shouldn’t sit in the comfort of state capitals, and comment almost with managerial confidence about the goings on in the state when they have never even visited that state.
“And the worst mistake you can make is to rely on sampling people in Abuja whom we call ward 17. They don’t exist in the states but they are very vocal. They are the ones you will find being hosted by TV hosts. But those voiceless guys, they are potent. They are actually the ones that vote, while the comentators asking whether people have started fighting? I think that what has happened in Imo shows that this democracy cannot be arrested by urban elites.
On NLC strike,Oshiomhole said, “As a worker in the Senate, I don’t pretend over the fact that my first constituency, my permanent constituency, is labour.
I can be removed as Chairman of APC as I was removed. But I couldn’t have been removed as a labourer. I remain labour in heart and labour in views, and labour in my aspirations. I will expect that even as we speak now that the issues that will appeal to me will be the fact that as we speak, we have states that are not paying N30,000. And those states are not being mobilised to go on strike.
“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 to 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 and 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 opinion with our responsibilities, because the issues confronting workers are so many that they should become the priority.
Labour cannot be apolitical because politics is about the people. And I have argued when I was in NLC that nobody has a right to be partisan, much more than those who turn the will 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 friend with any politicians in Edo State. So Ubgumudia once asked me, ‘we want to be able to say leave the matter to me is my boy, I will call him.’
“I am not anybody’s boy. I want to make my decisions. I take responsibilty 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 allowed that to 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?
But let me be clear. I do not support the brutalization of any Nigerian. I emphasise, any Nigerian, including a journalist, including the unemployed. Of course, including Labour Leader.
But I’m saying in terms of what you might call the hierarchy of needs and challenges that we face, I think that NLC should robustly engage all the state governors or the state governments, who are not implementing the agreement, that was midwived courtesy of a national strike, not a federal government’s employees strike. So if you mobilise private sector workers, state employees workers, local government workers, and now there is an agreement on N35,000 across the board, I want to see NLC saying there will be no sleep in any state where this is not being implemented. That is all I can say.