Comrade Jacob Babatunde Adekomi is the Osun State Chairman of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC). In this interview with DAILY POST’s Francis Ezediuno, Adekomi speaks about the politics of labour movement, insecurity, issue of pensioners in Osun State and the reason organised labour is supporting the governor in the next election.
What is your reaction to the earlier comment of the Minister of Finance, Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, in relation to slashing of civil servants’ salaries?
Initially, we heard that the Minister of Finance said so but later on, they denied it that it was not what they meant. Even the Head of Service of the Federation, said they were quoted out of context. They later revealed that there were agencies that needed to merge to synchronise their salaries to be at par with each other. If you say something and deny it, that means it has not been said. We are back to square one. That is the way I see it.
Is it true that in the recently concluded NULGE election in the state, there was a government sponsored candidate?
That is the fallacy of the highest order. Dr. Ogungbangbe campaigned throughout all the local governments in the state which the others could not do. For more than two years, he has been moving from one local government to the other. He had coordinators in all the local governments. This can be verified. The coordinators of the other candidates were not on ground. You can’t reap where you did not sow.
Even when I was contesting for state NLC chairmanship position in 2012, I was also accused of being a Peoples Democratic Party man who will work against the Rauf Aregbesola administration because I am from Ede. The government alleged that I would work for the Adeleke dynasty. This made the government to oppose my candidacy.
It is normal in an election like this for those that feel they cannot match the most popular candidate to find one or two negative things to tag him with. Besides, our election cuts across all the nooks and crannies of the state. This would not be the first time anyway.
NULGE election is a marathon and not a race. You don’t just start overnight. People will always say one thing or the other against a popular candidate and it is always the head that bears
the brunt. Definitely, people will say one negative thing or the other against a popular candidate.
Who bankrolled him?
We the workers bankrolled him. We all contributed to his cause. I am his supporter. I supported his candidature. He was my deputy when I was the State NULGE Chairman between 2012 and 2016.
He contested the NULGE Chairmanship in 2016 and lost. In NULGE, when you contest and lose, in the next election, the probability of the candidate winning is higher because you would have had some supporters on ground.
When he lost in 2016, they did not call him a government candidate but now that he has won, he is being labelled a government candidate. What is happening is like calling a dog a bad name in order to hang it. He won the election fair and square.
As another June 12 is approaching, is the NLC planning any protest or doing something to mark the day?
The Osun State branch of the NLC is an appendage of the national body of the NLC. When it comes to national issues, we have to wait for directives from the national headquarters. It is what the national headquarters decide that we follow. We don’t have a mind of our own when it comes to national issues, we wait for the directives from the national headquarters. Whatever they say is what we abide with even as a member of the national executive council. They lead the way and we follow.
What is your take as a stakeholder on the rising state of insecurity in the country?
It is quite unfortunate and we don’t know how we got to this place. The rising cases of insecurity would have to do with unemployment and hunger. Most of the criminals in the society today are unemployed graduates who don’t have the capacity to afford a square meal.
Also, where there is injustice and lopsidedness, there won’t be peace. Whoever failed to do justice should be prepared for the calamity that will follow after.
What I am saying in essence is that it is the configuration of many factors that are causing this but by and large, what we can say overall is that Nigeria is in a problem. We are in a critical situation that if care is not taken, the division of the country is inevitable. Insecurity and terrorism abound everywhere. Even for you to travel for a short distance, needs you to brave it out.
Ikire and Apomu are also recent cases of armed robbery incidents which claimed the lives of more than seven persons. The president has a lot of work to do. Let them have a security summit where the grievances of the people would be examined. The stakeholders also need to come together and decide on the way forward.
Is there no resolution to the JUSUN and PASAN strike that started since April?
They have been resolved. Just two weeks ago, they signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the minister of Labour and Productivity. They have reached an agreement and after signing the MOU, they are now waiting for the first tranche of deductions to get to their own account so that it will not be a vague agreement.
They want to see an implementation to what they have signed. I believe anytime from now, it will be implemented and the strike will be called off.
What is the position of the Osun State NLC in relation to 2022 Osun Gubernatorial Election?
If you have been following the trend in the State, Osun workers have suffered a lot. Between 2015 and 2018, we saw hell. Our salaries were slashed, we lost most of our members and pensioners too. It was God that gave us this government. Workers in the state suffered terribly during the last administration.
He has succeeded in implementing the minimum wage. We started with prompt payment of full salaries. We signed an MOU for the implementation of the new minimum wage since November, 2020 and till today, we are still being paid our salaries based on the new minimum wage and monetised promotions.
A lot of goodies have been coming in. Although we have not reached the promised land but we are on the way because we have left Egypt. Nobody would be willing to change a winning team, because of this, we are totally in support of the state governor. We are going to stand by him because he has done what we want.
What should be the solution to the predicament of pensioners in the State?
The pension problem in Osun State did not start today. It is quite unfortunate that it started before the last regime. The government has been upsetting the outstanding gratuity every month with N200 million. There is still a long way to go about it.
During the last May Day celebration, I requested that government should increase its monthly subvention to that pool so that many retirees will be able to get what they deserved. Even though the government has committed more to it, there is still more to do concerning it.