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Thursday, 11 February 2016

Factors That Made Okorocha To Bow To Labour?



Labour Leaders Protest In Owerri
Aside the crux of the matter that put labour and the Imo State government poles apart before an agreement was signed to resolve the dispute yesterday (10th February, 2016); several other seen and unseen factors may have shaped the outcome of the peaceful resolution of the face off.

Aside the negotiating skills of labour leaders led by the national president, Ayuba Wabba and the Imo State Chairman, Austin Chilakpu, in addition to the presence of the 36 state chairmen of the NLC and TUC coupled with the flexibility of the government team led by Barr. Ikenna Emeh which  ended the deadlock, there were certain other considerations and interplay of several seen and unseen factors which may have contributed to the resolution of the feud.
This is perhaps why Governor Okorocha while speaking to newsmen said no one should see the outcome of the deal of a winner over a loser.

He said he is ready to abide by labour’s proposal to be collecting 70%of the total revenue for the State, if that would bring peace.

 However,beneath that deal that restored peace between the government and labour are several factors which could have swayed the Governor and the state government to concede and reach an agreement.
 The APC Angle/ Other Political Factors   

Pressure was said to have come from some members of the national leadership of the All Progressive Congress led by National Chairman, John Odigie Oyegun.

Oyegun had sued for dialogue between Labour and the State government. He and his team were said to be so concerned on the political implications of labour’s action and the need for the APC to have a political future in Imo State after Okorocha’s reign.

The APC leaders must have been worried and concerned on the political and electoral implications for the APC if the face –off with government and Labour lingered beyond necessary in the State as it will certainly affect the electoral value of the party by the time elections come in 2019.
This situation would have emboldened the opposition PDP to latch onto Okorocha's blunder to snatch victory from the APC in the next elections in the State.

The APC leadership felt that while Nigerians are gradually accepting the fact that the poor state of the economy is responsible for the slow snail delivery of the dividends of democracy to them since the party came into power, it will be an “overkill” for the APC if Okorocha, an APC governor, stuck to his guns and insists on sacking workers under the guise of concession.

“If a child is crying continuously and refuses to stop despite everything done to pacify him, something needed to be done” Oyegun had told reporters at Government House, Owerri.

While Oyegun called for “flexibility” on the part of government and Labour, he reportedly held lengthy discussions with Okorocha thereafter on the issue before the agreement was reached.

Some members of Imo State House of Assembly were said to have before the commencement of the protest advised the Governor that while carrying on with the concession policy, but  he should be careful  that the matter does not prolong up to the time of the polls.

A key member of the House (names withheld) had told INNONEWS.COM that in one of their meetings with the governor, they pledged their support to him but strongly cautioned that he should know when to pull the brakes so that the policy it will not contribute to affect the electoral fortunes of the APC in Imo State.

Okorocha’s Successor And Presidential Bid
 While this may not be visible, the consequences of government’s dispute with labour may have impacted negatively on Okorocha’s much talked about presidential bid.

Also, media searchlight beamed on the Imo State Governor and coupled with the ferocious attention the matter garnered on the social media, the consequences of a lingering face off between the Governor and Labour would have snowballed into far reaching effect on Okorocha’s presidential ambition beyond.

Certainly, it would  be fool- hardy for the APC to field a presidential candidate (in the event President Buhari governs for four years) who has a notorious record of little or no concern for the welfare of workers.

Also, plans by the Governor’s camp to install a successor in 2019 to continue the legacies of Okorocha may have also swayed the outcome of the deal with labour. The spill- over effect of the issue and the attendant perception Imolites will have about the government’s over its anti- people or anti- labour policies was also a factor that could not have beeen ruled out that prompted a quick  deal to be brokered .

With the opposition PDP already firing on all cylinders on the APC led State government, a continuation of the labour dispute with the State government would have certainly affected anyone Okorocha anoints to take over from him in the near future.    

The issue of security no doubt could have been a major consideration that forced the State government to acquiesce to the demands of Labour. Before the protests, the State government raised concerns that hoodlums may hijack the NLC protest to cause mayhem in the State.

The attendant consequence of such situation could have led to breakdown of law and order in the State coupled with fears that opposition politicians are waiting on the wings to fuel the crisis which may  degenerate to the point of declaring a state of emergency in the State.

Under the terms of State of Emergency, all democratic institutions such as the Imo State House of Assembly and the executive arm of government, including the State Governor, will be suspended.  

The assemblage of a counter youth group mobilized to oppose the demands of the protesting workers was a wrong move which could have made matters worse if thousands of protesters had opted for a showdown.  

Though the youth group were said to have been mobilized by some overzealous government aides to back the governor’s concession policy, there were considerations  that they could also be submerged or swallowed not just by the protesters but by a powerful security force that came with NLC leadership from Abuja to Owerri.

Also, the fear of a wide segment of Imolites who are in one way or the other are aggrieved over some Okorocha’s action in the past could also not be ignored. They comprise abandoned APC footsoliders, unemployed teeming youths, especially the 10,000 gainfully employed youths engaged by the past administration, demobilized and demoralized beneficiaries of Youth Must Work Programme, Mechanics and Artisans being forced to relocate from Owerri to Avu,  hungry PDP members, etc

 Also, the closure of the Imo Airport by the labour leaders on arrival from Abuja indeed marked a turning point in the whole drama.   
 Okorocha’s Family Business Concerns In Owerri

Some choice properties said to belong to Okorocha and some of his family members in some parts of the State cannot be ruled out as one of the factors that made government change its stance.
Based on this, pressure from family members could have played a major trick on the entire saga. This could explain why heavy security presence was noticed at all choice properties and investments of the Okorochas in Owerri on the day of the protest.

Labour’s Intimidating Presence and Strength of the Protest

The presence of the national leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Trade Union Congress, TUC and their 36 state chairmen backed by over 10,000 protesters made up of Imo workers, including pensioners, the disabled and the less privileged certainly might just have been  a factor that cannot be overlooked.

The federal security protection enjoyed by the labour leaders must have also sent signals that indeed the labour leaders really meant business. And this was justified when the labour leader, Ayuba Wabba refused to enter Government House, Owerri when he was invited.  Some analysts said the presence of Labour and unconfirmed reports that they had planned to further cripple the State economically if Okorocha refused to back down were serious considerations


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