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Politics of Tuesday, 10 January 2023


Aremu tackles Obasanjo over comments on 2023 polls

Mr. Issa Aremu Mr. Issa Aremu

Veteran labour leader and Director General of Michael Imoudu National Institute for Labour Studies (MINILS) in Ilorin, Kwara State, Mr. Issa Aremu, has criticised former President Olusegun Obasanjo over his endorsement and comments on this year’s general election.

Aremu spoke on the sidelines of a two-hour annual walkout to mark his 62nd birthday at Murtala Muhammed Square on Sunday in Kaduna.

The event was attended by family members, members of organised labour, workers and management of MINILS, top Kaduna State government officials as well as members of the state chapter of the Alumni of National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (AANI) at Kuru, Jos, the Plateau State capital.

The two-term former Vice President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Vice President of Geneva-based Industrial Global Union described himself as “a child of independent Nigeria”.

He said his “modest accomplishments and impact” in the past six decades as a non-state and state actor indicated that “Nigeria is work in progress”.

The veteran labour leader expressed optimism, despite the “daily fictions of despair about a great country with challenges of nation-building called Nigeria”.

Sounding upbeat about uninterrupted 24 years of democratic process, Aremu noted that with 18 registered political parties, “vibrant two leading ones”, six presidential elections since 1999, and 96 million registered voters, Nigeria is the largest liberal democracy in Africa”.

The former NLC vice president stressed that the time has come for “quality control” of democratic process through “reinvention of new statesmanship and new citizenship”.

The sexagenarian faulted the latest letter by ex-President Obasanjo in which the former leader asked Nigerians to vote for the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Mr. Peter Obi, in the February 25 election.

Aremu said: “Given the anti-labour credentials of Obasanjo in and out of power had further taken away what remains of the credibility of the Labour Party as the platform of working people, women and the youths.”

According to him, Obasanjo’s letter, in spirit and content, as the former President suffers “chronic withdrawal syndrome that calls for pity by all Nigerians”.

He added: “Obasanjo’s problem is not just his age, but the age of his diversionary unhelpful ideas with yesteryears’ method of long verbose word counts, allegedly written by him but certainly not believed by him.

“His long, latest verbosity called a letter could not have been meant for the great Nigerian youths who prefer minimum honest word counts, but maximum wisdom, youths’ future he subverted with attempted third term ambition, serial brinksmanship and sit-tight mindset.”

Aremu said the only statesman still standing in Nigeria is President Muhammadu Buhari, who he recalled allowed the votes cast in Anambra, Osun, Edo and Ekiti elections to count, and not Obasanjo who he said trampled on election results to favour himself yet displayed openly tore the membership of the party that took him from valley of death to mountain of the Presidency”.

The veteran labour leader quoted the words of Benjamin Disraeli, twice Prime Minister of Great Britain, saying: “The world is weary of statesmen (such as Obasanjo) whom democracy has degraded into politicians.”

He lauded the ongoing campaigns by all the political parties but called for more contest of ideas for development not conquest by candidates and their spokesmen and women.