By Johnbosco Agbakwuru

In his reaction to the presidential statement of being behind decisions by the Labour Minister, the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba said that the planned protest will still go on noting that it has nothing to do with the inauguration.

According to him, “The protest has no relationship with the pronouncement they made. It is about the brutality Ngige meted out on our people. That is why we are protesting. The fundamental rights of every cirizen to peacefully assemble and protest cannot be wished away, it cannot be breached, it is a right that is fundamental, that is the essence of the action.

Wabba ,Ngige
Ayuba Wabba, NLC President

And certainly, the message is rather coming very late. We never expected that if there is such clarification for an issue that has been on the table for two years, why did it take so late to issue a statement?

You remember precisely on the 17th March, a statement was issued on the Nigeria Television Authority news to say that Kokori will be swapped from the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund to Michael Imuodu Institute. If somebody is not appointed, how do you swap him?

NLC warns Makinde, Ajimobi over minimum wage

And even on that July, there was a meeting by the Minister where he invited Kokori for an inauguration meeting, how did all of that come about?

If there was a change of mind they would have informed Nigerians in good time and not after all these processes. We have written many letters. First, it was only the issue of the inauguration of the Board. Over 500 boards had been inaugurated, why was that one left out? That has been our grouse.

On why the NLC nominated Chief Kokori, he said, “No, we never nominated Kokori. Let me tell you, I have repeated this severally our two nominees are the Treasurer and the Trustee. Kokori was nominated on his personal merit to the Presidential Committee headed by the Vice President then that nominated people into over 500 boards.

“Through that process, Ngige was appointed as Chairman of NDE. It was the same Ngige that told us that Kokori has been appointed into the board of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund. He is not our nominee but we thought that having nominated him from the rank and file of labour, we should also find out why they want to delay the inauguration of the Board.

“All the other 500 boards have been inaugurated. All of the appointments were done at the same time. In fact, the three Executive Directors and Managing Director were appointed through the same process.

” We have said it several times that we were not even aware that he was appointed but having appointed him, they can’t treat him shabbily because he is from labour.”

Othe Labour unions and platforms that reacted to this development told the NLC to channel their energy on implementation of the new minimum wage and not to dabble into what did not concern them.

Though they said they were going to participate in the protest in order not to be labeled as black sheep in the union, they claimed they were misled.

“Esteemed Comrades, in my opinion, the position of NLC on this matter is flippant. This is because the appointment for which Labour is being called out was not made based on any professional considerations but on political grounds as Kokori who is an APC, member was nominated by the state chapter of APC in his home state of Delta. So what reasonable justification does Waba have for going all out to fight the government and endanger the lives of Nigerian workers?

“To me, the steps which labour under Waba is taking show a lack of understanding of the nature of the current crop of leaders running Nigeria. This is a leadership that believes only in itself: does and sees no wrong in all it’s actions in itself a demonstration of half-hearted conscience.

“How many times have Nigerians cried out about the actions and inactions of agents of the government, such as SARS, Ministers,  etc without any action to show that the administration understands the paramount importance of feedback in the process of governance and social interactions?

“I have been able to see a link between the above and the current horn locking between labour and the honourable minister. See it. An appointment is made, something else happens and there is a massive outcry from an important stakeholder like labour. Then the minister calls out thugs to kill and maim workers with a threat that nothing can stop him from going ahead with the inauguration of the board as constituted by himself.

“Then what do we hear? The President backs the minister. It shows that those behind this action do not even care about the country and Nigerians, yet they claim to be voted in by Nigerians! What is it that this government knows that makes it unwilling to accept advice, suggestions or even corrections? It is just baffling. This is why I think that what labour is doing can never make this government change its mind. Never!

“Again the attitude of labour towards this issue is simplistic in view of the fact that Ngige is only working for someone who rightly should sack him if he falls short of the man’s expectations. It means that labour should be bold to take up the issue with the presidency, not fighting the minister, simple. But then, that is if the matter is as important which it is not. NLC is just doing “accidental discharge” with this Kokori issue. In other words, they are guilty of the wrong use of power!

“Now, in my opinion, we should draw the attention of NLC to the honest and present concerns of labour such as what the government and PENCOM on one hand and the PFAs on the other are doing with workers’ life savings. They should push for a thorough investigation of the management of those funds because they are the only savings honest Nigerian workers have.

“Whereas some in Nigeria live in homes worth over $700 Million, workers can only dream about them. Equally important, let tell NLC to make more noise about minimum wage implementation and ensure that as promised, workers should start enjoying it this May. The law has been passed, but it is not yet Uhuru.

“Between the passage and implementation, are killer huddles for the Nigerian worker. It is only labour that can fight this. They should also ensure that the table to be implemented is one that can give workers a new lease of life. Let us not forget that the benefit that accrued to the Nigerian worker in the 2013 wage increase was just #900. It is only labour that can ensure a nonrepeat because as far as politicians are concerned, they care for no one. There is no father in Abuja, we have only God.

“There are therefore many good fights that will benefit the ordinary worker, but not this Kokori fight; it is a waste of resources. The gods cannot do for man what man must do for himself!”

Another labour said, “Ngige has the backing of the Presidency and will surely install Ms. Amma People despite organized labour stand. Nigerian workers have more pressing pertinent issues to think about and tackle headlong than for  only Comrade Frank Kokori Position in NISTF.”