By Abraham Ogbodo
Where is the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC)? In 2012 under former President Goodluck Jonathan, pump price of petrol was increased from N65 per litre to N141. Hell was let loose as the NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) joined to work so hard to kill peace if the increase was not rescinded. It was also in the middle of the politics to chase Goodluck Jonathan out of power and it somehow became difficult to separate the protest from politics. Suddenly, everybody in the street became more patriotic than the Founding Fathers and hitherto strange bedfellows struck alliance in pursuit of this new national pastime. Even the whole Prof. W.S descended onto the arena of protest without qualms! So also was Prof. Ben Nwabueze who along with two or so protesting senior citizens was allegedly tear-gased by anti-riot policemen forcing then Lagos State Governor, Raji Fashola to truncate state matters to commiserate with the weeping elders. He told them that their tears would not be in vain.
Femi Falana and others in the activism bracket were willing and committed foot soldiers to revert the new pump price to the old price and make Nigeria livable. One Isa Aremu of the NLC was particularly visible in the media. He threatened to include ‘political demands’ if the simple economic demand of returning to the old pump price was not met within a given time. The mobilisation was intensive! People talked tough and reckless. The rules became perfect freedom. It was an open feast of dancing, eating and drinking in rallies in Lagos especially.
In the end, there was a resolution of some sorts. Life had managed to continue under the Jonathan-induced hardship untill May 29, 2015 when Gen. Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in as President. If I remember very well, Goodluck Jonathan departed Aso Rock Villa for Otueke, leaving behind the pump price of petrol at N85 per litre .
I am not discussing the exchange rate here and so I will not mention how the Naira stood against the Dollar as at May 29, 2015. Let’s remain focused! Let’s also cut the story short. Petrol pump price as at this moment is N180 per litre. You can calculate the percentage increase. Even so, I can only talk about my own location of the country. I don’t know how the stuff sells in other locations like the Southeast and far North. I cannot also tell what will happen across location in the next moment since we now live life by the moment in Nigeria.
But more importantly, I am worried that neither hell nor the heavens have fallen on Nigerians since the complete loss of humanity in Nigeria. What could be wrong? The objective conditions are so so very ripe! Or has some ingenious astronaut shot into space to mount a shield in the firmament to hold hell and the heavens from falling upon Nigerians?
Let me confess that since the advent of Buhari, I have not been following up with the good works of the NLC and TUC to make Nigeria even more livable. I know both organisations must have recorded tremendous success in this regard. I am very sorry for not keeping pace with the good works of both organisations.
Meanwhile, where is our dear Comrade Isa Aremu after his failed bid to move from Labour House to Government House in Kwara State as Comrade Adam’s Oshiomhole once did in Edo State?
The NLC threatened and has been threatening to shut down life in Nigeria over pump price increases. They have even limited the battle scope to only petrol. They are not including diesel which sells at N800 per litre, cooking gas at almost N1000 per kg and kerosene at N300 per litre in the complete absence of public electricity. Sincerely, it would be so fine to listen to the economic and political demands of Comrade Isa Aremu at this moment!
Under everyone’s watch, the NLC, maybe after Paschal Bafayau, was hijacked by very lowly characters; deals men who cloak themselves in labour activism to access political privileges and be shamelessly cool afterwards. Going forward, Nigerians must be wise enough to understand that redemption does not lie in gansterism and the antics of opportunistic leaders in the NLC and TUC. It is in this context that I am seeing the “Obidient Movement” as not only a movement to save Nigeria but return Labour to its status of a watchdog.