Nigeria: Abiola, Abacha Ghosts Rise As Labour Fights for Kokori
Abuja — Memories of the struggle for Nigeria's democracy, its nemesis, the late Gen. Sani Abacha and the martyrs who laid down their lives for the actualisation of Chief Moshood Kashimawo Abiola's June 12, 1993 mandate resonated yesterday as nine labour activists were severely injured while protesting the non-inauguration of the board of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF).
Frank Kokori, a former secretary-general of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and a major arrowhead of the struggle for the actualisation of democracy in the country, had been nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari to chair the NSITF.
But the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige has repeatedly refused to inaugurate the board, prompting public outcry.
And in a protest that could be likened to the struggle between the history of democracy and its beneficiaries, while picketing the residence of Ngige, members of the NLC were attacked by thugs, leaving nine of them suffering varying degrees of injuries.
The picketing started around 5:00 a.m. when trucks were used to block the minister's residence located on Justice Sowemimo Street, Asokoro, Abuja.
The NLC and Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) had on Tuesday vowed to carry out the protest, accusing Ngige of refusing to inaugurate the board of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF).
The inauguration was postponed two weeks ago, with labour unions decrying the removal of Chief Frank Kokori as chairman.
NLC had givennNgige an ultimatum to inaugurate the board with Kokori as chairman.
The deadline expired May 1.
"We will make the industrial space very uncomfortable for him as we will picket him anywhere we see him," NLC President Ayuba Wabba hadnsaid, noting that labour would continue to resist the minster's alleged perpetuation of himself as sole administrator of NSITF, four years after the last board was dissolved.
The thugs pounced on the protesters, forcing them to leave the premises.
Two of the injured protesters were admitted at the intensive care unit of the National Hospital, Abuja.
There are reported moves by the NLC to pass a vote of no confidence in Ngige and demand his removal from office when its Central Working Committee meets today.
The recommendation might be passed to other organs of the congress for ratification before it is presented to President Buhari.