Former presidential aide and veteran journalist, Laolu Akande, has described the ongoing national strike as a “distraction” and cautioned that the nation has bigger problems to deal with especially the current hardship being faced by Nigerians and the fiscal crisis of the Federal Government.
Featuring on Channels TV’s “Politics Today” anchored by Seun Okinbaloye on Channels TV, Akande appealed to the President to put an end to myriad national problems compounded by the national strike ordered by the National Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) which commenced on Tuesday.
According to him, after all leaders are elected to deal with crises.
He advised an immediate intervention from The Presidency in the circumstances saying all it requires is a simple phone call to invite labour leaders for a meeting and fix the problems.
His words, “Mr President has said that the bucks stop at his table, so we need to address Mr President and say look Mr President fix this. We don’t need this distraction.
“The nation has more important problems to deal with. The people are suffering, the last thing that people want to have to deal with is a national strike. We don’t need this strike and I believe that it can be sorted out as quickly as possible. I don’t see a very big problem here,” Akande stated.
When asked whether the strike was political or not, Akande responded, “That is why we have leaders. Our leaders are political leaders, elected political leaders to solve political problems.
Akande however, pleaded with the labour movement as well.
He said, “We have to balance it. The labour does have a responsibility, is it entirely right to bring the entire nation to its knees because of a local issue in Imo? Wouldn’t it have been better to localize this thing in Imo? That’s for labour.”
“I am not sure that punishing the whole country for whatever it is that is happening in Imo State, I’m not sure that is the right decision on the part of the labour movement.
“But for the government, starting from the President, all the way down, this is something that can be sorted out with a single phone call. A phone call from the Villa to the Labour leaders would get them running into the Villa. You know this is not the first time the government has had to deal with Labour.
“This is the kind of action that we need. We don’t need any further delay, we need the President to get on the ball and sort this thing out and he can sort it out very quickly. Mr President fix this,” Akande pleaded.
He was however categorical in condemning the inhumane treatment meted out to the President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr Joe Ajaero, recently in Imo State, and described the treatment as “criminal.”
He said, “It’s important to say that what happened to Mr Joe Ajaero in Imo State is criminal. You know, you don’t beat up people, that is an assault on the man and that is a crime. So, we need to put that in perspective to say that this is not right.
Recalling the promise of the Inspector General of Police Kayode Egbetokun to investigate the assault on the NLC President, Akande commended the IGP for making the swift response.
Pressed further on what he thought could have been the best approach the Labour union leaders could have adopted to express their grievances, Akande responded, “From what I’ve gathered so far this is essentially a local issue. You heard from the Governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzondinma, to say that this is a local political issue.”
“There are allegations that Mr. Ajaero is partisan towards the Labour Party and all of that, so indeed we can say this is an Imo State issue, it will be more appropriate to deal with this issue in Imo State and not make it a national issue. I think it is a bit of a stretch from the labour movement, Akande concluded.