Naming Our Secretariat “Chima Ubani Center”

& Calling For Extension Of Industrial Actions In Nigeria To Issues Of Good Governance & Fiscal Responsibility

---Intersociety

 

(Chima Ubani Center, Onitsha Nigeria: 28th September 2018)-Industrial actions or organized labor strikes in Nigeria must no longer be selfishly restricted to agitation for “minimum wage increase” or strikes aimed only at seeking increases in the workers’ remunerations. The industrial actions in the country must also not be turned by greedy labor leaders into “conduit pipe for criminal enrichment” especially during negotiations with the Federal Government led public sector.

It is our further resolve to name the Intersociety’s Secretariat as “Chima Ubani Center”. This change shall be fully reflected in our all correspondences in the coming days. The naming is for immortalization of his name and marking of the 13th anniversary of his death under suspicious circumstances on 21st September 2005 along Bauchi-Maiduguri Road while returning from a protest rally against hikes in the prices of the petroleum products, organized by the Labor-CSOs Coalition (LASCO); geared towards forcing the then Olusegun Obasanjo led Federal Government to rescind its unilateral and harmful decision.

Late Comrade Chima Ubani, a former Amnesty International’s Prisoner of Conscience, recipient of many international merit awards on human rights and democracy and one of the Nigeria’s leading anti military and pro democracy activists, was born on 22nd March 1963 and died suspiciously on 21st September 2005 at age of 42. He would have been 55yrs today if still alive. Late Comrade Chima Ubani had traveled by road to Maiduguri in the official car (Toyota Land Cruiser) of then President of NLC, Mr. Adams Oshiomole, who went by air.

Official report had it that “Ubani died alongside a Vanguard newspaper reporter, Mr. Tunji Oyeleru, with the driver, Sadiq Yakubu and two police escorts Malik and Ezekiel sustaining various degrees of injuries. The jeep was said to be following few distance behind the lead vehicle, a Honda car, when it suddenly had a tyre blow-out and somersaulted several times before coming to a stop by the road side”. But subsequent independent investigative reports including CLO’s independent report of 2007 strongly pointed to the fact that late Comrade Chima Ubani was a victim of “perfect killing”  most likely through Labor and Federal Government conspiracy.

Intersociety also strongly suspects that Comrade Ubani was a victim of perfect killing; similar to suspected “perfect killing” of DIG John Haruna on 14th March 2012 in a suspicious police helicopter crash in Plateau State  and Governor Patrick Ibrahim Yokowa of Kaduna State in another suspicious helicopter crash same year on 12 December 2012 in Bayelsa State. The two killings or deaths are also strongly believed to be ethno-religious related.

In the case of late Comrade Chima Ubani, prevailing and supporting circumstances abound. As a core Marxist and one of the incorruptible Nigerians, he had suspected a foul play in the “NLC-Federal Government industrial negotiation styles” which led to frequent unholy hour (late night) suspension of the called industrial actions contrary to decisions taken or agreements reached by Labor and CSOs leaders; insisting on the continuation of the industrial actions until all conditions are met by the Federal Government.

In his capacity as then Executive Director of the Civil Liberties Organization (Nigeria’s premier rights group), Comrade Ubani had insisted on forming a strategic committee involving CSOs leaders and the leadership of  Labor, called “LASCO” or Labor-Civil Society  Coalition, to be responsible for negotiations with the Federal Government over industrial dispute; so as to ensure no sell-out or unholy compromises. This resulted to the headship of the Coalition by Comrade Ubani during the said 2005 national strike against hikes in the prices of petroleum products; so as to truncate turning the industrial actions into “conduit pipe” for criminal enrichment by some greedy and treacherous labor leaders.

The suspicious death of Comrade Chima Ubani is still strongly believed in many social quarters to have arisen from the circumstances highlighted above. These were further attested to by the special independent report of the Civil Liberties Organized published by Sahara Reporters on 2nd August 2007, where CLO strongly suspected a foul play in the death of late Comrade Chima Ubani with others who must have been killed collaterally by his murderers so as to get him. The link to the said publication is here: http://saharareporters.com/2007/08/02/chima-ubani-killed. It was titled: “Chima Ubani Killed?”

We therefore call on the leaders of the Labor and their CSO counterparts to be fair and sincere to the people of Nigeria and consider generally welfare of all the citizens. Industrial actions in Nigeria must be detached from clannishness and pursuit of primordial interests and made all encompassing by being extended to critical and important issues of good governance and fiscal responsibility. In other words, such industrial actions must start from the root. Any industrial action anchored on “loot-mania” and “squander-mania” is collectively harmful, short-sighted and counter-productive.

However, it amounts to industrial slavery or “industrial crimes against humanity” to peg a minimum wage in present socioeconomically ruined Nigeria at mere N18, 000 per month which barely pays a month house rent, yet the Labor and their CSO counterparts must not watch by and do nothing against the armada of profligacy and squander-mania going on in the country’s public governance sector. The ongoing Labor/CSO industrial action, in the meantime, is legitimate, but not all encompassing and properly timed or situated. They are acutely selective and ought to have been started or organized long time ago.

As a matter of fact, the Labor Movement and their CSO counterparts should go beyond industrial action and launch an investigation into the use of 2017 and 2018 national and state budgets including the use of loans borrowed and Paris Club refunds shared. Such investigation must include the over-bloated allocations for “overheads” and rationale behind such alarmingly over-bloated allocations to the Federal Executive and Legislature and their States’ counterparts as well as the so called “constituency projects” of Federal and State legislatures. The investigation outcome must include recommendation for downward drastic review or cut down of same to free funds for workers’ increased remunerations.

Labor watchdog including industrial actions must therefore start from the root and devoid of smokescreen approaches. We have severally taken and still take a serious exception to clannish and looter-friendly assertion of the Labor Movement and their CSO counterparts, asking or urging or encouraging various tiers of Government in Nigeria to “go and borrow money to increase and settle the remunerations of the active and serving workforce in Nigeria”.

No sincere and conscionable labor movement or pro democracy counterpart in any part of the world would wish or encourage their country to be ruined by hash and consumptive borrowings for settlement of workers’ remunerations; more so when the concerned political leaders, their cronies and foot soldiers are found from left, right and center living in maddening opulence and mafia-related lifestyles.

A society that allows pen robbers and armed robbers as its leaders will certainly beget pen-robbery and armed robbery leadership outputs. Such is unmistakably the case with the present crop of political leaders especially at the Federal level in Nigeria. Cash sums spent in open political bribery in Nigeria’s public governance sector each month can comfortably pay one month remunerations of all the 90,000 civil servant staff of the Federal Government.

The raw truth is that the People of Nigeria have sacrificed a lot and enough for public office holders including public and civil servants of the Government. Every fiscal year since 1999, over 70% of the public funds generated for the governance of Nigeria are diverted for “recurrent expenditure budgets”, covering “personnel and overheads costs”; with paltry 30% or less set aside for “capital or people’s infrastructure” or “tangible and intangible development”. Yet the practical implement of same is brutally half done or cut under the guise of “dearth of revenue cash”.

Therefore, it must henceforth be the prioritized business of the Labor Movement and their CSO counterparts in Nigeria to raise concerns, questions and other legitimate actions on the integrity and character of those to be elected and appointed or being elected and appointed into the country’s public offices including those fielded as elective office candidates by leading Nigerian political parties. It should be the core business of the same Labor and CSO leaders to steer clear or shun being partakers in the country’s mad looting or profligacy in its public governance sector.

Labor and CSO should raise voices and use their effective weapon of industrial actions against maddening foreign and local borrowings in Nigeria as well as alarming rate of squander-mania by the Executive and Legislative Branches of Government using various conduit pipes such as “security votes”, “office and sitting allowances”, “operational allowances”, “constituency allowances”, “office running costs”, “general overhead costs”, etc.

During elections, it should also strikingly be the business of the Labor and their CSO counterparts to independently monitor and ensure that popular candidates voted for do not have their sacred mandates perverted or truncated by the goons at INEC and security establishments.

A clear case in point was the broad-day manipulation by the INEC and security goons, of the last Saturday’s staggered governorship poll in Osun State, where the candidate of the PDP popularly returned by the People of the State had his thousands of valid votes deducted and deleted. A conscionable and public interest oriented Labor Movement and their CSO counterparts should have downed tools until INEC reverses itself and returns the rightful winner.

 

For: Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety)

 

Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chair

Mobile/WhatsApp Line: +2348174090052

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Chidinma Evan Udegbunam, Esq.

Head, Campaign & Publicity Department

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Chinwe Umeche, Esq.

Head, Democracy & Good Governance Program

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