* Al Jazeera

The history of Labour unions in Nigeria dates back to the time of Railway Workers Union and the acclaimed and highly respected number one labour leader in Nigeria, Pa Michael Imodu, who was revered for his selflessness and Spartan lifestyle. He died honorably at a ripe old age.

Following him, Nigeria has seen other prominent and active labour leaders. These men of honor include the likes of Hassan Sunmonu, Pascal Bafyau, and Frank Kokori, to mention a few.

However, when men with new personalities like the outspoken Adams Oshiomhole took over, the face of labour changed, and it may never return to those glorious days.

Oshiomhole was very active, vocal, and a fierce critic of many governments during his time. He led labour on several protests, strike actions, and work-to-rule policies. Adams Oshiomhole was perceived by the Nigerian masses as one of them. He rode on the support of the masses and later transitioned into a politician who contested and served as the governor of Edo state for 8 years.

However, the masses lost sight of Adams Oshiomhole as he integrated into the affluent political class. Nigerians won’t forget in a hurry how, as governor, he kicked and insulted a poor widow street trader by saying, “go and die.”

Oshiomhole also ascended to the position of National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress during the tumultuous government of General Muhammadu Buhari. Today, Oshiomhole is a Senator and is conspicuously wealthy, owning a magnificent mansion in his hometown, as well as several other properties in Abuja and Lagos.

Other individuals have also presented themselves as friends of the masses, using media and civil society organizations to proclaim their allegiance to the masses. However, some of them, including lawyers, journalists, and other professionals, have been consumed by power and affiliations with politicians and the ruling class.

Nigerians have consistently been the losers as these individuals abandoned the causes they once championed on behalf of the masses, aligning themselves with the same oppressors they claimed to fight against.

Today, under the leadership of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Nigerians should scrutinize many of our civil and human rights leaders who are now hobnobbing with politicians and holding political appointments.

Present labour leaders are once again calling Nigerians out to hold politicians accountable for the economic situation of the country. They are calling for protests and mass demonstrations.

It’s crucial for the masses to think critically and ask questions. Will these leaders use them to protest and sometimes lose their lives, only to return and join the same class they claimed to oppose? As one old musician aptly put it, “Our Mumu Don Do.”

Let Nigerians say no to dubious labour leaders whose children attend high-brow schools at home and abroad but call innocent youths to face security agencies’ tear gas and guns.

Enough is enough. Say no to Labour looters.

Olaseni O Egbeyemi is a media and tourism consultant who worked in the Presidency during President Olusegun Obasanjo’s tenure in government 

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