The words of a public crusader has it that “an immoral and unjust system would always breed contempt for its laws and regulations.” Sometimes, a government disavowing itself from the indictment of civil society organizations can be likened to newspapers which are only a poor shadow of reality. Their information is only relevant to the crusader not because of the truth it reveals, but because it discloses the biases and perceptions of those who produce it and those who read it.
I read about the decision of the Nigerian Labour Congress led by Comrade Joe Ajaero, to shut down economic and social activities in Imo state to protest alleged government anti-people policies, poor attention to public plight, political fraity , weak workers’ welfare, etc. It appears NLC chose this course which is more difficult and which entails more risk and hardship than sitting in gaol. It seeks to hold the government to account side by side with the people, inch by inch, until a workable compromise is reached.
Many confess to seeing the government of Hope Uzodimma as anti-people. When they think of democracy and freedom, the government is not in view. In so many ways, the very model of responsive government is only seen in retrospect. Despite Imo being a benefactor of whichever hue of democracy in Nigeria, they allege that it is that democracy that has helped inflict a pernicious system of iniquity on the people. But the critics can’t have it both ways. While I abhor the notion of modern dictatorship, I have never had to reject the trappings of democratic style and manners. My inclination is to present and explain the situation as truthfully and objectively as possible and not omit any accomplishment of the government.
However, I presume NLC could be asking Imo people: what are you going to do? Will you come along with us, or are you going to co-operate with the government in its efforts to suppress the claims and aspirations of the people? Are you going to remain silent and neutral in a matter of our lives and future? For our own part we have made our choice. Only through hardship and sacrifice can liberation and true democracy be won. Available indications show that the labour Union in Imo seems to have borrowed its striking template from the immortal statement of Nelson Mandela who said in the course of fighting apartheid in South Africa, that ” the time comes in the life of any nation when there remain only two choices: submit or fight .” For the Imo NLC, that time has now come.
The Union in its constitutional makeup and obligatory task, and when not compromised, has always sought to achieve workers fundamental welfare and public liberation from state oppression without bloodshed and civil clash. We hope, at this hour, that the Union’s action in the state will awaken the government to the realization of the fact that it has only performed its duty responsively when it listened to the agitations of the public.
Although a part of the political demography may resent the strike, the masses are so desperate for social and economic security that they may have found a sympathetic ear and a competent ally in Imo NLC, a platform where they would not be either turned away or cheated, a platform where they might actually feel proud to be represented by men who feels their pains. This is the reason the strike has jolted the state on its axis, and this makes a lot of people feel the Union has made the right decision.
I hope that the government doesn’t see the strike as the work of foolish amateurs or saboteurs, but rather a civil way to bring the government and its supporters to their senses before it is too late, so that both the government and its policies can be changed or modified before matters reach the desperate stage. A government commits a crime against its own people if it hesitates to summit to superior and popular public yearning. And public pacification is sometimes worth more than a fleet of jet fighters.
By Kennedy Ogenna.