Senator Adams Oshiomhole from Edo North voiced his concerns on Wednesday regarding the recent protest organised by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in Imo State.
The said protest, spearheaded by NLC President Joe Ajaero, led to a chain of events that eventually resulted in a nationwide strike, which on Wednesday night was suspended after government intervention.
Appearing on Channels Television’s Politics Today, the former NLC president highlighted Ajaero’s purported involvement in the election of the NLC chairman in the southeastern state, just ahead of the highly anticipated governorship election held last Saturday.
Ajaero’s arrest on November 1 during the midst of an NLC protest and strike action in the state, followed by his release with visible injuries within hours, triggered widespread allegations of mistreatment against the Imo State Police Command.
Senator Oshiomhole particularly noted the aftermath of this incident, mentioning that the NLC president, in response, imposed restrictions on flights departing from the state, possibly in reaction to the perceived injustices faced during the protest and arrest.
“He ordered… no transport out of Imo [and that] Imo must be grounded. And not a few people wondered about the timing,” the senator said.
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“If you don’t want the governor, the more reason you should allow the people to go and vote — and vote him out — if your opinion is shared by a majority of the people. But you cannot arrest democracy.”
Oshimohole pointed out that the incumbent NLC president is from Imo State “and this is the second time they are having a showdown with the governor — and the issues are never really clear”.
He mentioned that the initial incident stemmed from a disagreement regarding the choice of workers in electing the chairman of the NLC in Imo State Council.
“The one that was allegedly favoured by many people, the president of the NLC coming from Imo didn’t like the person,” Oshiomhole said.
“They did their election; it was nullified and a caretaker was appointed, and some of the workers felt that the man appointed was the person favoured by the president.”
In the senator’s view, the NLC president must be seen to be above board and must not “drag himself into the little issues,” particularly when they are dealing with their own state.
“Now, those issues about who is the chairman, who is not the chairman, led to a declaration of strike and the mother union of the NLC president is the NUEE which controls the power supply and they put off the power in Imo State,” Oshiomhole narrated.
“This latest one, about nine or 10 days to the last election: Again, the NLC president went to Imo State over allegations of all sorts of things, but they are never specific. No wages, etc. and at the end of the day, we saw pictures that he was arrested.”