Written by: Denzel Chukwudinma. (15-12-15)
Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole is a popular name known to the poor and indigent in the country. This is consequent on his popularity when he was President of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC).
Oshiomhole came to limelight when as a labour leader, he aggressively fought the anti-people policies of the then President Olusegun Obasanjo. Before then, Oshiomhole had been in the trenches fighting for the rights of the Nigerian workers. Adams Oshiomhole was once a threat to factories that treat their workers in inhuman manner.
He was everywhere at that time, I remember when he visited Texlon on LSDPC Compound in Amuwo-Odofin in 1995, to issue a warning to the owners of that company to desist from “casualisation” of their workers and stop every inhuman treatment.
Workers saw Oshiomhole as the hero, they had waited for, to salvage them from the claws of their taskmasters who wanted them to work without pay. Oshiomhole was a compassionate, amiable and respected leader at that time.
His exploits earned him a place as the President of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC). Among other achievements, Oshiomhole negotiated a 25% wage increase for public workers.
As a result of this achievement he was re-elected for a second tenure, a tenure that lasted another 4years, from 2003 to 2007. During his second term, the NLC president was on the side of the indigents and the poor. He showed up and faced what people feared the most – a former dictator turned president in a democratic dispensation. He led strikes and demonstrations against the unilateral increase in price of petroleum products.
The exploits of the former labour leader positioned him as a hero in the mind of the ordinary Nigerian. It is a pity that Oshiomhole’s exploits as a labour leader were a ploy to acquire power and fame. The true character of this labour leader began to show as soon as he became the number one citizen of Edo State.
As governor, Oshiomhole began implementing anti-people policies. His philosophy changed, he no longer recognised the difference between the rich and the poor. The proverb of Euripedes a Greek poet became true in his case. Euripedes was of the opinion that “When a man’s stomach is full, it makes no difference whether he is rich or poor.”
Having eaten with the government of the then Yaradua administration as the number citizen of Edo State, Oshiomhole’s stomach became full to the point that he forgot about the poor and indigent worker earning N8,500 as monthly wage at that time. He became anti-people in his approach to governance, taking sides with the government.
When President Jonathan hiked the fuel price, Oshiomhole was silent all through the strike, but resurfaced as an appointee to negotiate on the side of government with the then Labour President and the TUC. Oshiomhole became a voice speaking for the government.
The same Oshiomhole, after eating fat on the side of the government, came out to discredit the same path that made him. The villain turned politician now uses his office to make reckless statements. He said that the same NLC, which has been the congress championing the cause for a better future for the Nigerian workers, failed in their responsibilities because the body refused to play politics.
It was a shock to know that the former union and labour leader has become the opposite of what he believed. He started owing state workers, and would clamp down on anyone who dared to speak out. On July 1, 2015, it was reported that the NLC in Edo State threatened to go on strike, if the state government refused to pay workers’ salaries. Thousands of aggrieved local government employees being owed by the state government for more than eight months marched to the union’s state secretariat along James Watts Street, off Mission Road in Benin City, the state capital to make their voices heard.
Oshiomhole’s clueless style of governance led him to request for a World Bank loan which was rejected by Okonjo-Iweala who advised against leaving Edo State in heavy debt. The governor did not take it lightly, as he took to the media spreading all sorts of propaganda against the former minister for refusing to stamp the fraudulent loan request.
Recently, the former leader shocked Nigerians when he took a new wife at the demise of his wife. Oshiomhole celebrated an elaborate wedding not minding that the lady in question, Iara Fortes, is about the age of his daughter. The shameless Oshiomhole did not stop as he went to the media saying he met Iara Fortes as a virgin. What a shame!
It is so clear that the priorities of Adams Oshiomhole have changed having tasted power, money and fame. It is a pity that the Oshiomhole we knew as the labour leader is different from the Oshiomhole turned politician.
Denzel Chukwudinma is a social commentator, who resides in Owerri the capital of Imo State.