Akala’s traps haunt Ajimobi
The relationship between the workers and the former Governor of Oyo State, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala could be likened to that of a cat and mouse. It was so glaring at a point that the then State Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Alhaji Lamidi Apapa once said that the administration was not workers’ friendly.
As a result of this the workers in the state went on strike several times before the expiration of the tenure of the ex-governor. Staff of the Polytechnic, Ibadan were not left out. In fact, the then Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnic, Ibadan, Mr. Babatunde Dosumu was sacked for leading his members to say no to the perceived high-handedness of the administration. Up till now the dismissed lecturer is still contesting his dismissal in court.
Indeed, throughout the tenure of the administration, there was no time the salary of workers was increased without any form of confrontation between the two parties.
But surprisingly at the twilight of his tenure, Otunba Akala pledged to the workers that he would implement the new minimum wage at the end of May. The announcement was made after he had been voted out by the electorate in the state.
Of course, the workers who had variously complained that they were the least paid workers in the South West jumped at what some termed as a Greek gift.
While they were rejoicing, the then governor-elect, Senator Abiola Ajimobi saw the implementation of the new minimum wage which the Federal Government was yet to pay as a landmine intended to cause disaffection for his administration.
To Ajimobi, if the former Governor had meant well for the new administration, he should have left the issue for him to resolve instead of rushing to implement it.
Many observers wondered why Akala suddenly turned a to a ‘nice person’ even though he had earlier turned deaf ears to the call by the workers to see to the implementation of the wage.
A greater percentage of the observers say the then governor, haven been faced with the reality that his dream of becoming elected for the second term had been truncated, only created booby trap for Ajimobi.
To put his government into more troubles, Akala went ahead to hurriedly assent to a bill by the then State House of Assembly under the leadership of Mr. Moruf Atilola amending the laws governing the state Traditional Council of Obas and Chiefs, thereby removing the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi as the permanent chairman which he had earlier agreed to when the going was good between him and the monarch.
The amendment of the law, according to observers, was to serve a dual purpose. First, to pay Alaafin in his own coin for ensuring that his subjects voted out Akala and the Peoples Democratic Party in all the elections. Second, to create trouble for Ajimobi.
Another ‘landmine’ the ex-governor left with Ajimobi to grapple with, is the de-proscription of the troublesome National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW. Akala had, inspite of a judgment by the National Industrial Court that reinstated Alhaji Lateef Akinsola aka Tokyo as the Chairman of the union, denied, Tokyo to take up the leadership of the union. Instead, he continued to give recognition to the then factional leader of the union, Alhaji Lateef Salako aka Eleweomo was killed during a local government congress of the PDP. He allegedly refused Tokyo so that his administration would not be plunged into crisis.
To give his administration some respite, he proscribed the union but allegedly continued to support the faction of Alhaji Lamidi Mukaila aka Auxiliary who took over from the slain Eleweomo.
It is now alleged that when he felt the curtains had been drawn on his second term bid that he then de-proscribed the union. Since, the de-proscription, Ajimobi has been battling with one crisis or the other. Lately, it was gathered that over 70 people were killed in the latest bloody clash between the factions at Iwo Road interchange.
Ajimobi, speaking through the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Akin Olajide said the government is bothered by these clashes that have unfortunately profiled the state as a home of hooligans and touts; “as if we were a people with no respect for human lives and order in society.”
“Even though our administration inherited this spate of clashes, we have sworn that we would put an end to it. One of the first steps we took upon assumption of office was to ban the activities of the NURTW in our motor parks.
We thereafter ordered the Oyo State Commissioner of Police to ensure that all persons, no matter their status, who were involved in this lawlessness, wherein innocent citizens were killed, must be fished out of their hidings.
This administration is one that believes in the rule of law. We will not condone sacred cows of any kind,” he stated.
He then set up a judicial panel of inquiry headed by a retired judge, Justice Olagoke Ige.
He commissioned the panel to investigate the immediate and remote causes of the violent clashes involving members of the union; identify individuals and groups that precipitated or participated in the crisis, either directly or indirectly and recommend appropriate sanctions to be imposed.
The panel is also to ascertain the number of persons killed or who sustained injuries during the crisis; identify the spread and extent of loss and damage to means of livelihood; investigate the sources of weapon used in the unrest and recommend measures to stem the illegal flow of such weapons in the state; recommend appropriate actions on how to prevent reoccurrence of such crisis in the future and to recommend appropriate remedies to the innocent victims of the unfortunate crisis and examine any other matter incidental or relevant to the crisis, as well as advising government on appropriate path to follow. Some people say Akala set the traps to distract Ajimobi so that he would not be seen to have performed better than he.
Undoubtedly, the administration of Ajimobi has got much up its sleeves. Since, he assumed office, he is yet to settle with governance. Some say he has been busy clearing the ‘rubbish’ created by the past administration.
After dealing with the NURTW issue, he still has another sensitive issue of the removal of Alaafin as the permanent chairman to contend with and after that the minimum wage of N18,000. Though, the governor was said to have entered into agreement with the workers to pay them the May salary and then discuss how much he can afford to pay, it is hoped that the workers have not played smart game with him. It may be difficult for the workers, if after tasting the fat May salary of N18,000 minimum wage, they would agree to earn less.
Ajimobi actually knows what politicians can do to injure or discredit their counterparts and he is actually leaving no one in doubt that he knows his onions. He is aware that to dine with the devil, he has to look for a long spoon. Since he assumed office about 22 days ago, he has not been using the governor’s office. He has restricted himself to the executive chambers after some proper cleansing has been done. At the Government House, Vanguard gathered that the governor has been using only the presidential lounge.
Already, the workers and other residents in the state are growing impatient saying the new government is going at a snail speed which is too cold for comfort. To calm the people down, there are billboards in some parts of the city pleading with them to be patient with the governor.
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