Calling The Bluff Of The Labour CZARS

By Feny Fwa
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This is an impossible country. How can a government that has the mandate of the people of Nigeria to execute its policies and programmes would just be blackmailed and undermined by labour Unions.

For taking a management decision of restructuring its most important revenue generating agency ie the NNPC for effective and efficient service delivery, these larger than life unions namely PENGASSAN and NUPENG immediately, without warning and following due process, embarked on a strike that paralyzed the fragile and depressed economy, leaving behind tears, sorrows and blood.

All Nigerians are worried about the corruption and inefficiency that had made the operation of NNPC a monumental disaster and part of the reason is the structural defects of NNPC that needs to be reorganized internally without necessarily touching the ingredients of the law establishing the corporation.

It's because of the ineffective and inefficient way the corporation is being ran that is indebted to the tune of $5.2b to oil companies and was incurring monthly loss of N30b until the inception of this management which reduced the monthly Loss to N3b. To achieve greater result and make the corporation a profitably venture, the management deemed it fit to further restructure the corporation without retrenchment or reducing the salaries and allowances of workers. If these issues which touch the body and soul of workers were part of the restructuring, the strike would have been understandable.

What is worrisome about this strike is that the labour Czars have not followed the existence legally biding procedures for any Union to meet before it could embark on any strike. If my memory has not failed me, the union will first of all write to the organization, protesting a decision and thereafter give 21day ultimatum for the management to rescind such a decision. It's after the notice has lapsed and management has not rescinded its decision that it could go on strike. Even at that, the labour organizations ran in those days that had milk of human kindness and was led by responsible leaders such as comrade Hassan Summonu, the present Edo governor, comrade Adams Oshomole and late Pascal Bafyu normally gave the oppressed workers enough notice to buy enough food items and other essentials to mitigate the sufferings arising from such a major strike that may affect their well being.

Furthermore, these people oriented labour leaders of the golden labour era ensured that they followed the rules of the strikes and restricted themselves to only labour related matters. They also ensured that sensitive unions were restricted from going on strikes, unless it became absolutely necessary. The present insensitive and inhuman labour Czars are complete opposite of these fine principles imbibed by the former labour leaders. The procedures mentioned above were observed in default by the unions because the unions embarked on the strike immediately the policy was announced without following the procedures on strike.The action of the unions was illegal, insensitive, callous and inhuman. In fact the decisions hurt their poor members more than the management.

These officials of the unions are worse than our corrupt leaders as they go on strike to protect the entrenched interests of certain powerful people that benefit from some of these bizarre maladies in the system and at the end one can't rule out that they too are partakers in the sharing of the inhuman booties perpetrated in the system.

If they are out to protect the interest of the workers what have they done on these maladies that had hurt the workers more than the restructuring of NNPC. Did they go on strike when the NNPC under the leadership of Dezani ( the outgone minister of petroleum) ran the company a ground by perpetrating all kinds of fraud that cost the nation trillions of Naira? Where were their voices when the former minister of Aviation used the tax payers money outside the budget to purchase four bullet proof cars at the exorbitant cost of N250m! Where were these heartless unions when the same NNPC, PPRA, oil companies connived with top government officials to fraudulently deprive the nation of more than a trillion Naira in the name of oil subsidies.

There was no condemnation not to talk of a strike. where were these labour czars when billions of pension funds were embezzled under the watch of Maina and the then Head of service Stephen Orasanye? Nigerians cried and called on heads to roll. Being the funds of workers these fraud stars called labour leaders couldn't even lift their fingers to protect the retirement benefits of their members. What a shame!

Honestly for subjecting the Nigerians masses to excruciating pains of lack of fuel, lack of water, lack of electricity which had diminished the small income of the struggling masses and in some cases brought about their untimely death, I pray God to surely curse these wicked, callous and inhuman, dubious labour bourgeois, masquerading as the workers champions. Nigerians you can now see why PMB is using extra judicial means to get the nation's thieves.

I think is time we applied the Rawlings formula in Ghana where he got rid of those that had bled Ghana to death. Today Ghana is more organized and corruption is being addressed squarely. Remember a minster had to resign because his intention to benefit from a deal which was yet to materialize.

Nigerians do we watch these people as they toy with lives of over 170m? No we should do something. First of all, government Must sensitize the generality of the people by going extra mile to organize town hall meetings to draw the attention of the people on the various measures it has put in to change ways things were done in the past and that is why we found ourselves in this predicament. It should solicit the assistance of the generality of the people to support it. Government shroud go a step further by exposing the saboteurs and dealing decisively with them.

Secondly based on the interaction with the government to deal decisively with saboteurs, we must take our destiny in our hands by confronting them thereby resisting their antics. For instance all the leadership of three tiers of government should work hand in hand with all stake holders in the Nigerian project to frustrate all the antics of saboteurs.

Take for instance if the generality of the people are convinced that labour leaders are on strike for selfish reasons and have violated the procedures for a strike to take place, we should not hesitate to collectively support the rounding up of such officials and embark on operation occupy their offices and houses until they rescind such an unpopular strike. Government must also prosecute labour leaders that violate extant law by embarking on illegal strike.

Enough is Enough. We have suffered for the mismanagement our resource , but can no longer stomach the antics of saboteurs, especially coming from the over pampered, dubious labour czars. We must call off their bluff. But this cannot be done without the government mobilizing the citizens to checkmate these people that have contributed negatively in out quest for building a peaceful and prosperous society.

Fenny Fwa
Ministry of information

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