By Demola Akinyemi
LABOUR leaders, workers students of Labour Relations and others stakeholders now have another opportunity to “meet” the legendary Nigeria’s Labour leader number one, Pa Michael Imoudu, 12 years after his demise at the Michael Imoudu National Institute for Labour Studies, MINILS, Ilorin, Kwara State.
MINILS has opened a gallery named after the former president of Railway workers and first president of the independently formed Nigeria Labour Congress, containing his personal collections. In fact, the gallery contains the “remains” of Pa Imoudu such as his shoes, clothing, caps, his certificates, his pictures, artworks, among other personal effects.
Speaking at the unveiling of the gallery, an activist and managing director of Legacy Insurance Brokers, Mr. Babatunde Thomas, enjoined Labour leaders in the country to emulate the selfless leadership of Pa Imoudu contrary to what is now obtainable among present day labour activists.
He explained that his firm discovered during visits to the MINILS that there were things to unveil in MINILS considering the impacts of late Pa Imoudu on labour struggles, “leading over 500,000 comrades to bring down the strength of the British empire. We saw that where his property was kept is not good enough. So we decided to intervene and contribute to the MINILS community and the man Michael Imoudu. Because we can’t talk about labour movement in Nigeria without talking about Imoudu. We want to unveil and present information not known to people.
“Nigerian workers and leaders should emulate spirit of selflessness of the late labour leader. With commitment and integrity but certainly not money, people would follow our idea. When you have integrity, followership is easy. Michael Imoudu was a good leader, and that is why he was able to get that followership. Labour leaders of today should put money aside. Let us serve selflessly and with passion, then xyz of money would follow.
“Let’s have the mind of the people at heart. Do we want our people to have a meaningful life, good education for our children, what about welfare of our people, good health care system, and so on? That is what labour leader should be fighting for. It is not increasing salary. If you increase salary today, by tomorrow there will be corresponding inflation if not more than before. So, for me it should be about quality and passionate leadership.”
Mr. Thomas, who said that partnership between his company and MINILS was to develop the labour institute and facilitate better training programme, added that “For one to change mindset, you need education.
Also, we want to create a situation whereby the labour institute would generate enough revenue and not relying on government and expand training capacity of the institute by expanding number of students in diploma programme partnering with MINILS. We should build human capital development at this point in our national growth. If we should achieve that in this country, then we can go to sleep.