The Trade Union Congress (TUC) has declared that the Nigerian workers and their two labour centres, have a right to be politically partisan so as to safeguard their collective interests, warning the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s aides not to create problems for him before and after he is sworn into office.
TUC gave the warning in a press statement signed Tuesday by its National President and Secretary General, Comrades Festus Osifo and Nuhu Toro respectively.
The assertion and warning was TUC reaction to Tinubu’s Media aide, Bayo Onanuga’s comments in The Punch newspaper, Monday, May 15, 2023 edition.
“Onanuga had in the ‘Punch Newspaper’ edition of Monday, May 15, 2023 claimed that: “The NLC and TUC are already heavily partisan and therefore have lost all moral rights to be a judge in the post-election legal fights.” He added that: “Looking at the future, I don’t even know how the NLC and TUC can now claim to represent all Nigerian workers having fully embraced the Labour Party” the statement read.
TUC leaders however replied, asserting that having political interest was workers’ basic human right, adding that the organized labour bodies did not view Onanuga’s outburst either as an accusation or insult, rather, “expression of an ignorant mind”.
The workers’ Union restated that Tinubu now has the whole country as his constituency and the least those who claim to be “his sidekick should do, is not to manufacture problems for him before and after he is sworn into office. Please be warned”.
The statement reads in part:”Secondly, when Onanuga said the TUC and NLC “have lost all moral rights to be a judge in the post-election legal fights.” he spoke like a person with an unsound thought process because neither the TUC nor the NLC is a judge and the post-election legal fights he referred to are done in courts of competent jurisdiction.
“The issue is not about the TUC and NLC: “having fully embraced the Labour Party.” as Onanuga cries. The fact is that we created the Labour Party; in other words, the party is a child of the Labour Movement. This is nothing strange in democracies including Nigeria. In the United Kingdom for instance, the Labour Party is actually an alliance of trade unionists, socialists and social democrats. In fact, unions like those of Communications, Fire Brigades and Mineworkers are affiliates of the party. The German trade unions throw their weight behind political parties of their choice.
“In fact, in Brazil, when the country was under military jackboots as was Nigeria, the trade unions created a political movement that led to the 1980 formation of the Workers Party. That party was the ruling party for 13 years from 2003, and is today, back in power with former labour leader, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as the country’s President.
“This fact that Labour created the Labour Party does not mean the party must win all elections; indeed it has won some and lost some. So, Onanuga challenging the legitimacy of the TUC and NLC to adequately represent Nigerian workers because they are identified with the Labour Party, does not make any sense and we do not think he is faithfully representing the position of the President-Elect.
“Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has been declared the President-Elect of our country by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC in accordance with the country’s laws and constitution and this remains so unless otherwise decided by the courts. Therefore, his spokespersons like Onanuga need to move from the electoral gear to a post-election one.
“Mr Onanuga is playing the role of a fifth columnist by seeking to manufacture problems for the President-Elect, where there are none. We recall that after the elections and Asiwaju Tinubu had been declared the winner, which meant he had become the President-Elect of the entire country, this same Onanuga tried to ostracise and instigate Igbos against him. He tweeted: “Let 2023 be the last time of Igbo interference in Lagos politics. Let there be no repeat in 2027. Lagos is like Anambra, Imo and any Nigerian state. It is not No Man’s Land, not Federal Capital Territory. It is Yoruba land. Mind your business.”
“The TUC is not new to the parochial and uncivilized mindset of Onanuga, his lack of depth, managerial deficiency and gross inefficiency; these had led the workers of the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN to force him out as the Managing Director of the agency.
”Even after the protests, it was clear that President Muhammadu Buhari would not re-appoint him, the workers protested his continuous presence on the premises, insisting he vacated before his first tenure expired.
“We know that the battle for offices in the in-coming Tinubu administration are going on and are intense, but we advise the likes of Onanuga to leave the TUC and NLC out of such battles