A Senator from Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, has condemned the recent assault on Joe Ajaero, the national president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).
Mr Oshiomhole, who represents Edo North District in Nigerian Senate, spoke on Tuesday at the Presidential Villa Abuja when he and other members of the APC visited to congratulate President Bola Tinubu on the victories of the party in the just concluded off-cycle governorship elections in Kogi, Bayelsa and Imo States.
Mr Oshiomhole, a former governor of Edo State, South-south Nigeria, also served as the national president of the NLC between 1999 and 2007.
There was an uproar in the state on 1 November when some thugs and police officers reportedly attacked Mr Ajaero and other members of the NLC who had assembled at the union secretariat ahead of a planned protest against the state government.
The workers said the protest was imperative because the Imo State Government reneged on its agreements with them.
The national leadership of the NLC later alleged that Mr Ajaero was arrested by police operatives in the state.
The union also accused the Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodinma, of mobilising the thugs and the officers to attack the NLC president to frustrate the planned protest in the state.
But the police later denied arresting Mr Ajaero, saying they only placed him in protective custody to shield him from attack by the thugs.
On his part, Governor Uzodinma blamed Mr Ajaero for his alleged partisanship in the state.
“What has happened in this ugly coincidence is that the national president of the Nigeria Labour Congress is from Imo state and has not been able to demarcate the difference between being a national leader of an organisation and then an interested party in local politics,” Mr Uzodinma had said.
The NLC, on Tuesday, declared an indefinite strike to protest the assault on its president, with other affiliate groups joining in the industrial action to show solidarity.
‘I do not support brutalisation’
Mr Oshiomhole said he does not support brutalisation of any Nigerian, including the labour leader.
“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 said.
The senator, however, suggested that the NLC was wrong in their demands explaining that the labour union should have focused on confronting state governments to implement N30, 000 minimum wage.
The former APC national chairperson said, based on what he termed “hierarchy of needs” and the current challenges facing Nigerians, the issue of minimum of wage should have been their concern.
“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,” he said.
Like Governor Uzodinma, Mr Oshiomhole suggested that the NLC president was being driven by political motives rather than interests of the country’s workers.
The former governor of Edo State said he would have supported NLC on the ongoing industrial action if their demands were based on the workers’ minimum wage and welfare.
“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,” he said.
He suggested that the NLC president was supporting a candidate in the governorship election in Imo State.
Mr Oshiomhole claimed that during his time as NLC president, he did not make friends with any politician in Edo State.
“We must recognise that however 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,” he said apparently referring to the alleged political partisanship of Mr Ajaero.
“I was not anybody’s boy. I wanted to make my decisions. I took responsibility for those decisions. You couldn’t find me in the house of a politician,” Mr Oshiomhole said, recalling his time as NLC president.
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