Organized Labour has accused Bayo Onanuga, the spokesperson of President-elect Bola Tinubu, of making statements that have created more adversaries for his principal and crossed certain boundaries.
According to Organized Labour, they were disheartened by Onanuga’s recent interview with a national newspaper, in which he allegedly criticized the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) for openly supporting the Labour Party and its presidential candidate, Peter Obi, in the last election.
In a statement issued by Benson Upah, Head of Information and Public Affairs for the NLC, it was mentioned that Onanuga made a joke about the NLC and TUC aligning with compromised civil society groups to act as watchdogs for the judiciary.
The statement further highlighted that Onanuga argued that the NLC and TUC had lost the moral authority to represent all Nigerian workers due to their close association with the Labour Party.
It read partly, “We are dismayed by the views expressed by Bayo Onanuga, a veteran of Information Management and Systems who is presumed to know something about everything.
“However, since Onanuga elected not to know, it behoves upon us to educate him thus:
“The right of members of NLC and TUC to belong to lawful associations of their choice or to freely express themselves within the ambit of the law is guaranteed by our national constitution;
“Similarly, the right of workers to belong to a political party or political parties of their choice is lawful as per the judgment of the Supreme Court of Nigeria;”
The statement further read, “The philosophy and essence of the TUC and NLC as expressed in their vision and mission statements and objectives, are lawful, practical protests and struggles for actualisation of better wages, better working, socio-economic and political conditions;
“In historical context, the Nigeria Labour Congress was part of the decolonisation struggle that enthroned independence in 1960;
“It similarly led the struggle against the military for the restoration of democracy. It has been consistent in its criticism of governance irrespective of whoever is in power;
“Together with TUC, they have been in the vanguard of other popular struggles too numerous to recall here;
“All this did not strip them of the moral authority to speak for or represent workers or the larger Nigerian society until when they chose to criticise the 2023 electoral process which not a few entities including international observers have questioned;
“It is amazing that Bayo Onanuga did not speak about the loss of high moral ground when NLC and TUC queried the electoral processes of the previous elections which led to the setting up of the Justice Uwais Committee;
“On the international circuit, organised labour has had an illustrious relationship with political power. The Labour Party of Britain is about the most consistent and visible in recent history. Lula of Brazil has just staged a comeback on the platform of Labour. Closer home, we have had COSATU and ANC and Fredrick Chiluba of Zambia. So what is wrong with unions in Nigeria identifying with political parties?
“We have deliberately chosen these examples from popular democracies to illustrate to Onanuga that Nigeria is not an aberration. There are more instances in socialist or communist countries.
“It is important for Onanuga to know that membership of the Labour Party even for Labour executives is voluntary let alone the mass of workers. In light of the foregoing, he is advised to focus on more productive ventures instead of needlessly crossing red lines and winning enemies for his principal.
“Finally, we would like to let Mr Onanuga know that we are not squirmy about our intentions to seize political power through the channels recognised by law. He therefore has no moral authority to question these intentions unless he can prove that they are intentions without rights.”