Afolabi Olawale Not-So-VIP & His Bodyguards: A Show Of Shame In NUPENG/Trade Unionism

By Preye Odede-Graham

Stakeholders in Nigeria's trade union movement have strongly condemned the indiscriminate use, and abuse of personnel of the Armed Forces and other security outfits by Mr. Afolabi Olawale, the General Secretary of Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) as bodyguards.

The criticism was sequel to the recent visit made by the union's General Secretary's to the site of NUPENG National Secretariat somewhere in Jibowu, Lagos State.

According to a labour leader, and member of PTD Branch of NUPENG in Port Harcourt Zone, Comrade Chris Amadi, the unionist expressed concern over the indiscriminate use of men of the Armed Forces as bodyguards for civilians who were ordinarily not entitled to such privileges.

He said though the practice cut across virtually all sectors of the polity, but further said it was more common among politicians, political and ex-political office holders and businessmen. But what he found more worrisome is when labour leaders are now found culpable of same distasteful and embarrassing act.‎

Comrade Amadi said the most commonly used security personnel were the Mobile Police Force, soldiers and in some cases, men of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps.

He boldly castigated NUPENG to have engaged in recruitment error by employing a character like Afolabi as its General Secretary who has no operational or administrative knowledge of how the union is run but to only display show of force and opulence.

He said that on several occasions, these armed security personnel, acting as bodyguards to Afolabi, had brutally assaulted, harassed and severely beaten innocent civilians who were left at their mercy.

“There is a distinct difference between genuine VIPs who are provided security by the government and the not-so-VIPs who hire private ones. For a union leader to be involved in this brazen show of might and lawlessness is to say the least an affront to NUPENG and to the principle of morality, Afolabi has further desecrated the sanctity of trade unionism and all the respect and honor it is known for.

“Afolabi is expected to serve NUPENG with diligence, discipline, and the highest level of integrity at all times. Upholding these values is not just a duty but a necessity. He must convince his employer that he is responsible and humane in his conduct, for it reflects the pride he takes in his role as a supposed union leader. He has shown that he is not an embodiment of excellence but of militancy and viciousness which has grossly destroyed every layer of the union". Amadi averred.

Comrade Amadi stressed that if the trend was left unchecked, it could lead to anarchy and in turn negatively affect the society by causing despondency in the minds of the people.

He said the situation had tarnished the image and reputation of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, trade unionism, NUPENG and as well compromised national security.

He also asked NUPENG to reveal who is responsible for the funding of such huge security personnel attached to Afolabi who are seen to be more than twelve in numbers.

Amadi then urged the heads of the country’s armed forces and affected security outfits to immediately withdraw their personnel attached to power-drunk civilians including Afolabi.

He also urged authorities of relevant security agencies to investigate the matter in order to bring sanity to the polity and to serve as deterrent to others who think like Afolabi.

Amadi again disclosed that he has single-handedly notified the Secretariat of several labour organizations both in Nigeria and outside the shores of Africa that NUPENG is affiliated with, about Afolabi's shenanigans and how he has destroyed every layer of NUPENG including the Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD) Branch of NUPENG, turning them to attack dogs of the government in power, all for his (Afolabi) selfish gains.

He further advised NEC members of NUPENG who are of good conscience to immediately pass a vote of no confidence on Afolabi and show him way out of the union, describing him as a total misfit and unworthy Ambassador in the industrial struggle.