May 9, 2023

Before Ajaero turns NLC into an ethnic union

NLC advocates quality salary, pension, insurance for journalists

Joe Ajaero, NLC President


SINCE the election of Comrade Joe Ajaero as the President of Nigeria Labour Congrss, NLC, he has embarked on actions that appear to be against the corporate existence of Nigeria. As if borrowing from the playbook of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, he has adopted a combative and confrontational militancy against some state governments. And when he is not threatening the Judges handling the presidential election tribunal, he is engaging in action that could lead to economic sabotage of the country.

Ajaero is playing an ethnic card against President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. He is supporting Mr Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party. If he was doing that in his personal capacity, nobody would be bothered. But when he uses the NLC platform to prosecute such a sinister agenda, Nigerians, especially the security agencies, ought to be alarmed, not just worried.

For those who don’t know his history, Ajaero was once involved in splitting the NLC. That was when he lost the presidency to the former president, Comrade Wabba. He went on to form the United Labour Congress which later collapsed. That, of course, showed that he desperately needed the NLC platform for an agenda that has nothing to do with the defence of workers’ rights.

He later got what he wanted, and more. Comrade Ajaero is an Igbo and the Secretary General of NLC, Comrade Goddy Ugboaja, is also an Igbo. Working alongside some highly placed Igbo in the Buhari government, they worked for Peter Obi who eventually lost the presidential election. Now Ajaero wants to use the platform of the NLC to scuttle the inauguration of President-elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu on May29, 2023. He wants Peter Obi to be declared president.

As earlier canvassed, if Ajaero was pursuing his agenda as a private citizen within the law, nobody would begrudge him. But he is using the platform of the NLC, a body that has millions of members with diverse political interests. For the avoidance of doubt, there is a huge difference between the NLC and the Labour Party. While the former represents the workers, the latter is a political party which platform is used to contest elections. One can be a member of one without necessarily supporting the other.

That was why, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, who has never been a member of NLC contested election under the Labour Party and won to become Governor of Ondo State. That was also why Comrade Adams Oshiomhole who was once the president of NLC ran for Edo State governorship not under Labour Party but Action Congress of Nigeria. Just recently, a member of the NLC and former president of NUT, won election under APC as the Governor of Kebbi State. His ambition was supported by former NLC president, Comrade Ayuba Wabba. These great men all knew the difference between NLC and Labour Party and separated same. But not Ajaero.

Ajaero is not only content to lump his personal ambition with that of the NLC, he has gone ahead to embrace threats and blackmail in his quest to scuttle the inauguration of Tinubu as president. First of all, he has threatened the judges handling the presidential election petition tribunal. He said he would put them in a hall of shame should they rule against Obi. Secondly, he invited Peter Obi to this year’s May Day celebration in Abuja. That was to show the world that it was the candidate of the Labour Party he is backing. But Peter Obi cannot be the candidate of NLC because among the members, they have their preferred candidates: some APC, some PDP and some Labour Party. Why then is Ajaero hell-bent on imposing Peter Obi on members of NLC?

But the reality on the ground is that Tinubu is the next president and Ajaero is expected to work with his administration. However, won’t he suffer identity crisis in dealing with the new administration. For instance, will Ajaero deal with Tinubu as president of NLC, or as leader of the opposition Labour Party or a leader of  an Igbo irredentist group? That is the dilemma NLC is now embroiled in because of the bad choices of a leader who had allowed his personal ambition to imprison him.

It is unfortunate that even top officials of NLC are not rising against this modern dictator who wants to destroy the Congress formed in 1978. It is also worrisome that security agencies have not yet realised that this man is a national security risk going by his antecedents. 

For instance, before the last elections, he had declared a total strike in Imo State, thus paralyzsing the economy of the state with possible disenfranchisement of the voters. All that was done to foist his stooge and classmate as the chairman of NLC in the state. He has similarly grounded the economies of Ebonyi and Abia states in a show of force that they must support the Labour Party candidates.

Indeed, just recently, Ajaero reportedly used some members to disrupt flights to and from Imo State under the guise that the workers May Day celebration was disrupted in the state. 

Who does that? Who uses power so recklessly for purely selfish and personal reasons? Did the NLC Exco authorise such irrational action that cost an airline N700 million? Are the Exco members aware of the destructive action of Ajaero? If they are not, I believe that the security agencies are aware.

That is why I align myself with the position of the Arewa Youth Assembly which recently called for the arrest of Ajaero, saying he was plotting with IPOB to scuttle the inauguration of President-elect, Bola Tinubu. 

It also accused Ajaero of economic sabotage against Nigeria in addition to using the NLC as a platform to achieve Igbo domination in Nigeria. According to the Arewa Youth Assembly,  “the invasion of Lagos and Imo airports by IPOB fundamentalists masquerading as NLC is only but the beginning of what Ajaero is hatching to stop Tinubu from taking oath of office as president”.

Because Ajaero no longer recognises his limits; because he had elevated himself to an opposition leader rather than the NLC president; and because he has consistently engaged in acts unbecoming of his office, it is only meet that the security agencies should call Ajaero to account before he finally turns NLC into a militant group.

•Danlami is Speaker, Arewa Youth Assembly