A former Information Commissioner in Edo State, Kassim Afegbua, has said the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has become a tool in the hands of the Labour Party (LP) and its presidential candidate, Peter Obi, in their plot to frustrate the government of President Bola Tinubu.
Afegbua, a Tinubu ally, also said the NLC President, Joe Ajaero, cannot be trusted to lead the Labour body neutrally as he had shown overt parochialism.
In a statement he issued in Abuja, Afegbua said that Ajaero’s rush to call out workers on strike was a plot to destabilise Tinubu’s government and plunge the country into crisis.
According to him, Ajaero and NLC ought to have restrained themselves from calling out workers on strike.
He insinuated that the call for a strike could be an avenue for the NLC to shore up Obi’s plummeting image.
“The planned NLC strike reportedly slated for Wednesday, 7 June, is politically motivated because the Ajaero-led NLC has become a partisan Congress, doing the bidding of Peter Obi, its presidential candidate.
“Joe Ajaero is threatening to shut down the country through the backdoor to create the wrong impression that Nigerians are not happy with the new government.
“We all know that Joe Ajaero, the Nigeria Labour Congress president campaigned vigorously for Peter Obi, who also declared during his campaigns that subsidy was an “organised crime” that would not stay a day longer if he became president.
“Why, then, is the NLC now pretending that the removal of subsidy is not a welcome development? All the frontline candidates during the last February Presidential election: Atiku, Obi, Kwankwaso, and Tinubu, promised the removal of subsidy from day one.
“They all campaigned with it to woo voters. Why are Ajaero, Obi and Atiku suddenly behaving like the ostrich, appearing unaware of the evil of sustaining subsidy?
“Ajaero is poised to play politics with the lives of workers and Nigerians. He has become partisan and lacks the moral rectitude to appear as though he’s fighting for the average worker.
“The government has started consultations to find the best cushioning initiatives and palliatives to mitigate the temporary pains associated with the subsidy removal.
“We all agreed that subsidy has become the hotbed of corruption in the country. Oil marketers are not only fraudulent; they have become dangerous economic predators breathing down our throats for too long.
“What the new administration of President Tinubu has done was to uproot the issue from day one to allow the opportunity for robust engagement on how best to provide cushioning initiatives.
“If he allowed subsidy a day longer, the desire to remove it would be hijacked by those economic predators who are ready to go to any length to thwart the process.
“We must collectively join hands together to halt the hurt of subsidy and save the country from wholesale corruption that has held us down for long.
The new government has shown a desire to step on the sore toes of those who do not mean well for our economic well-being. Oil marketers have become economic saboteurs, frustrating all attempts to fix our refineries because it pays them to keep them out of operation.
“With the removal of subsidy, further attempts would be made to fix our refineries while also generating ideas to apply palliative measures to cushion the pains.
“All patriotic Nigerians must appreciate this altruistic intention of government to tackle this drain pipe in the nick of time rather than dancing to the political tunes of Mr Joe Ajaero.
“The Ajaero-led NLC must see the present situation from the perspective of its long-term benefit instead of blindly threatening strike without exhausting the deliberations and consultations which the government has started with Labour.
“Aside from being politically motivated, nothing thus far could be seen as the motivation for a strike at a time Labour should be assisting government to deal a lethal blow to oil profiteers and predators. One gets the impression that NLC has become a collaborator.
“What Ajaero is trying to do is to invoke the anger of their Labour Party supporters to provoke a strike, to distract the government from taking the desired decision against subsidy removal.
“The time for politics is over: this is the age of setting new standards to rescue our nation from implosion and economic stagnation. NLC, NUPENG, PENGASSAN, ASUU, JUSUN, and TUC should please put the interest of the nation first and at heart at this time.”