The Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Saliu Adetunji, and the leadership of Oyo State branch of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) have given reasons for not attending yesterday’s celebration of the nation’s 57th Independence anniversary.
The event, which held at the Main Bowl of Lekan Salami Sports Complex at Adamasingba in Ibadan, the state capital, was attended by members of the State Executive Council (Exco), heads of ministerial and extra-ministerial boards, agencies and corporations.
Others were security chiefs, including, police commissioner, the General Officer Commanding the 2 Mechanised Division of the Nigerian Army, High Court judges and members of the House of Assembly.
Traditional rulers at the event included the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi; the Otun Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Lekan Balogun; the Balogun of Ibadan, Oba Owolabi Olakuleyin and the Ashipa Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Eddy Oyewole.
Oba Adetunji’s reserved seat was unoccupied throughout the period of the programme.
Unlike in past years, NLC members were absent at yesterday’s ceremonial march past.
The Olubadan said he would not have attended an event to which he was not invited.
The monarch’s media aide, Mr. Adeola Oloko, said though he was not at the palace yesterday, but he was not aware of any invitation as at 11 a.m on Saturday he left the place.
Oloko said if the palace did not get the government’s invitation to attend a programme that would hold less than 24 hours later, why would anyone expect the monarch to honour it?
But when told that a source had hinted that the monarch’s invitation was delivered at 11 a.m on Saturday, the aide said he was not aware of such invitation at the same time he left the palace.
He said: “I have not been to the palace today (Sunday) but I can tell you that at 11 a.m when I left the palace yesterday (Saturday), no invitation had been delivered to the palace from the state government.
“But when I get to the palace, I will find out if any invitation was delivered to the palace. But come to think of it, if no invitation had been delivered to the monarch as at 11 a.m (on Saturday), which was barely 24 hours to an event, then what are we talking about?”
NLC State Chairman Waheed Olojede said labour unions would not have attended the programme since the government did not invite the workers.
The union leader, who said he confirmed if the situation is the same with the sister arm, the Trade Union Congress (TUC), added that both groups found it unbelievable that the government could organise such an event without inviting the workers.
According to him, the workers had no bad blood with the state government but had supported the administration all along, despite being owed months of salaries and emoluments.
He said the unions could have used the event to discuss with the government the workers’ outstanding salaries and emoluments since they had been supporting the government without complaints on the matter.
Olojede urged the government to have a rethink of how they treat the workers noting that the workers must be seen as the engine room of any system and backbone of any success they want to achieve.
The union leader warned that using labour as mere tools by those in government would no longer be tolerated by the leadership of the workers.
He said: “Labour sees no reason to attend the Independence Day anniversary since the government also saw no reason to invite us.
“We have been supporting the government, despite having salaries and emoluments outstanding with the government.
“I spoke with my counterpart in TUC and I discovered the situation was the same. The workers would have used the opportunity to intimate the government of our welfare and outstanding salaries but the government decided to shut us out.
“There is no bad blood between the workers and the government. As such, we are surprised that no invitation was extended to the workers.
“However, on behalf of the leadership of the workers’ union, I congratulate the workers on the occasional of the Independence Day anniversary.
“We also call on government structures to begin to have a rethink of how they treat workers. We must be seen as engine room of every system and the backbone of any success they might want to achieve.
Source: The Nation