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Those who know me closely would affirm that I lead a serene, quiet and reserved lifestyle. Personally, I would prefer to mind my business and keep quiet on any issue that neither affect me nor affect my immediate family. But I have a scrupulous conscience that weighs me down and pushes me into action each time I see a neighbour in pains. This is why I am moved to render help even if there is no relationship between us.
Of course, “Silence is golden” but not in the face of oppression and totalitarian dictatorship. This is why Richard Burke once said “the hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who remained silent in the face of evil…”
It is needless to mention that Kogi State workers and pensioners are currently going through the most humiliating and agonizing experiences in the hands of Yahaya Bello and Edward Onoja. Many have died as a result of this dehumanizing experience, and those still alive continue to suffer servitude, starvation and neglect. The worst aspect of this story is that there is no one to fight for them.
Now, the workers have organized unions namely; NLC, TUC, NUT etc that ought to help fight and protect their industrial rights as enshrined in the constitution. But regrettably enough, the leaders of these unions have been silenced and quietened by either intimidation or brown envelope from Yahaya Bello.
It may interest you to know that even the name of the chairman of Kogi NLC, Comrade Onuh Edoka remains on the uncleared list of the screening committee till date. If he can’t save himself, I don’t know how he is going to save his members (majority of whom have also been declared ghost workers). It is even possible that Comrade Edoka and the other union leaders may not know that they have the constitutional right to press home the demands of their members in any form of legitimate industrial action.
But in fairness to Edoka, there was a time he called for an industrial action in the form of strike. Unfortunately, Governor Yahaya Bello hijacked it playing the ethnic politics of divide and rule game. Our brothers and sisters from Kogi Central fell for this tactics and boycotted the industrial action which in the end truncated the entire process. However, you will recall that the said Comrade Edoka was at that time harassed, threatened, blackmailed and lobbied. Whether he succumbed out of fear or favour is a story for another day. But his silence today speaks volume and rumours has it that the double-dealing union leader has been compromised by the government.
Today, I am as worried as any other Kogite of goodwill should. And I dare to ask, why are the union leaders silent in the face of Bello’s maladministration? Did you know that the union leaders have such constitutional powers to challenge Bello’s tyranny? Should our workers and pensioners continue to be subjected to this dehumanizing condition? Is the high level of insecurity in our beloved state today not linked to this nonpayment/mass retrenchment? Was Emir Lamido Sanusi not right when he asked Yahaya Bello “how do you secure a state when you are not paying salaries?”.
Now let me address the words of Frederick Douglas to Yahaya Bello, Edward Onoja and the compromised union leaders that have gone to rest:
“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.”
My dear Kogites, if we continue to wait for our salvation to come from these sleeping union leaders, we would wait ad infinitum. Please, let us come out with one voice to say ‘ENOUGH IS ENOUGH’. Thank God for the gift of social media, let us reach out to as many Kogites as possible.
Yahaya Bello doesn’t listen because he has the backings of the I.G of Police as claimed in his recent video. But we must tell him and I.G that the number of us willing to be arrested for this noble course will out stretch their men and facilities. We cannot continue to repose our trust in the Labour leaders anymore.
Please, stand up for your right and fight for yourself. Wake up!!!
– Comrade Austin Okai
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