By Yinka Odumakin
THERE is a shelf life for most products and former labour bureaucrat and demagogue, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole must be soaking that now as he rues the consequences of his twaddle at a labour forum last week.
Back to 1993. Following the annulment of June 12 freest and fairest election in the history of Nigeria by the military regime of General Ibraham Babangida, a nationwide resistance against the unjust diktat was mounted. Organised labour was expected to play a critical role in that movement to de-annul the elections. But it failed. It was only the Kokori-led NUPENG that spearheaded strikes with some few other unions.
Several labour sources have alleged that one of the kingpins that ensured the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, did not side with the people is our smooth-talking “Comrade”.
With the return of civil rule in 1999, Oshiomhole became the NLC president with the biggest opportunity for social climbing which he used to the fullest.
The Smart Aleck was so dexterous at his game that he positioned himself as a friend of the poor who was ready to dare the government on obnoxious policies like the perennial increases in fuel prices under the Obasanjo administration. He fooled the polity to the extent that even the gadfly(Gani Fawehinmi) was lamenting that he should have vied for the Presidency when he chose to run for governorship in Edo in 2007 because of his “achievements ” in labour .The Senior Advocate of the Masses did not know the fat cat was posturing and playing games with the masses .
I was initially fooled too until I saw through him. We would be at the NLC in those days when a strike was about to be called and “Comrade” would spit fire against the government. He would take all radical opinions and a strike would be declared. Once the strike gathered momentum he would go for negotiations.The meetings after his “deal” with the Obasanjo government usually saw him calling only those who are for accepting the token reduction he negotiated. He would choreograph the show of surrender without allowing any dissenting opinion heard before calling off the strike. Once a decision was taken to sell-out, all the fret in him would disappear and a calm mien descend.Only fools would be in that arena and not see that the “negotiated” price was what was bargained before the government announced a higher price and the masses taken on a shambolic strike.
It was at “The Podium” organised by the Kukah Centre in Abuja in 2016 that “Comrade” confessed to what some of us saw through in those days.
Oshiomole recalled his days as president of the NLC at the event saying he brought down the government of former president Olusegun Obasanjo to its knees when Labour locked down the country in 2003.
He recalled that when the government jerked up the price of petroleum from N20 to N30, his leadership of the NLC took up the administration and fought to have the increment reversed.
“The activism of organised Labour is goal oriented, when we got what we wanted and offered the government the face-saving grace of N2, we had to call off the strike. But by that time the government had come on its knees.”
Oshiomhole quoted the late human rights lawyer, Chief Gani Fawehinmi as telling him that “You have already brought this government to a standstill and we are already counting 1, 2 and before we say 3 you gave up”
“But our target was not to bring down Obasanjo. What is my gain as Labour if I chased Obasanjo out and Atiku took over? It is the same ruling class. It was not my business to bring down Obasanjo but it was my business to defeat whatever policy we felt was against the people,”
The social climber rose to become Edo governor in 2008 and served for eight years with some remarkable outings which showed the real man beyond the facade.
In 2013,the labour aristocrat turned His Excellency was on the streets of Edo with some state officials to enforce sanitation.As they were moving round, they saw a woman selling petty items on the road and the governor ordered that the items be seized.The woman went on her knees begging the Emperor that she was a widow trying to eke a living.His Excellency who professes Christianity apparently had never read Luke20:46-47 “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honour at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”.He put his two hands in his pockets ,tilts his head to a corner and said to her “Go and die”. He received “condemnation” from the public before he later apologised to her.
A case of perjury
In 2012, he was enmeshed in the major affliction of many politicians in Nigeria as regards perjury and he has not offered convincing answers till date. Theophilus Ilevbare writing in Sahara Reporters on December 7, 2012 captured the sordid tale thus:
“A closer look at Governor Oshiomhole’s credentials showed that though he claimed to have attended Iyamoh Primary School, Iyamoh, in the then Midwest state from 1957-1962, his claim is contrary to an investigation by the Edo State Ministry of Education which revealed that Iyamoh Primary School was founded in 1963, a year after the governor said he graduated from it. His name is said not to be in the Class Register nor among the graduated class of the Blessed Martins Secondary Modern School that he claimed to have graduated from in 1965. If he was born in 1953 and graduated from a secondary school in 1965, as declared under oath, could it be correct that he complete secondary school at the age of 12?
“Curiously, the name on Oshiomhole’s primary and secondary school certificates simply bore Adams Aliyu, and his Ahmadu Bello University Adult Education certificate submitted to INEC, bore Adams O. Aliyu, while subsequent certificates bore his current name Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole. This disconnect in his names was made evident when the comrade governor in a handwritten affidavit, that he personally deposed to INEC, stated that he had no previous names other than Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole. The discrepancy in Oshiomhole’s stated dates, names and schools belie the veracity of his claim and may be considered as perjury”.
Hospital without equipment
Another ringing indictment is the Benin Central Hospital which Governor Oshiomole asked President Buhari to commission last year but Obaseki recently said he would concession because of lack of equipment .Chief Dan Orbih, Chairman of Edo PDP raised serious posers in Vanguard of August 5,2017 which the former governor has yet to provide answers to:
“He (pointed) pointed out that former Governor Oshiomhole publicly admitted that he awarded contract to equip the hospital but brought President to Benin to commission an empty hall and not a hospital. He alleged that the hospital might have served some personal interests. He alleged that a total sum of N1.67 billion was appropriated for the hospital in the 2014 Edo State budget, N3.5 billion in 2015 and N5.1 billion in 2016. In all, he said a total sum of N10.27 billion was appropriated to the Accident and Emergency ward of the hospital in three years and that the Obaseki government also provided the sum of N500 million for the hospital in the 2017 Edo State budget.
Orbih noted that it was inconceivable that a private firm that did not contribute fund in the construction of the hospital was being invited to manage the hospital. He said, “what is the financial equity contribution of the faceless partners in Edo State Central hospital ward? The cost for the construction of the Calabar Specialist Hospital with a comprehensive package of secondary, gynaecology, obstetrics, pediatrics, internal medicine, general surgery, orthopaedics laboratory services, basic neology and basic cardiology, dermatology, urology and eye surgery was N6.4 billion. “The state government’s capital outlay was set at N3.2 billion while the balance of the financial requirement would be sourced by the concessionaire, UCL HealthCare Services Limited, as its equity contribution to the project in true spirit of Public Private Partnership, PPP. “The Ibom Specialist Hospital in Akwa Ibom State will cost N12.75 billion with 303 bed facilities, VIP and VVIP Ward, 1.5 Tesla MRI 640 slides CT Scan, Digital Mammography, Endoscopy Surgery, open heart and transplant surgeries, highly sophisticated intensive care unit, Paperless and Pneumatic delivery Services, Fully automated labs and dialysis units, Medical Gas Plants and Helipad for Emergency Evacuation.”
As we waited for Oshiomole’s response to these weighty allegations, the man widely believed to be angling for the post from which the “grass cutter” is on suspension from, disintegrated last week on the spot where he rose to national prominence.He had become his loquacious self at a colloquium organised by the NLC on the subject of restructuring where even the Sultan took a reasonable position.
Oshiomhole argued that while the current democratic dispensation started in 1999, the call for the restructuring of the country was instigated by those who lost out in the 2015 general elections.Pathetic Adams is not even aware that his party promised to restore Nigeria to “true federalism ” in its manifesto .
The audience which was initially captivated by his demagoguery and jokes cut in with shouts of “no, no, no,” as they disagreed openly with his view on the current call for the restructuring of the country.
It took the intervention of the Chairman of the event, Justice Alpha Belgore, the President of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba, and others to restore calm after 10 minutes of holding down the event and demystification of renegade Adams.The advocates of restructuring forge ahead with one motive:Nigeria should find a working structure so it does not disintegrate like “Comrade”
You can fool some people for sometime but you can’t fool all the people all the time sang the reggae superstar from the depth of wisdom.