By Ismail Omipidan
Endorsements, they say, act as a ‘mental shortcut’ “to help voters make sense of a candidate’s policies and positions.”
This probably explains why some persons, both within and without, have remained uncomfortable in the last 24 hours, following the endorsement of my boss, Governor Adegboyega Oyetola, for another term in office by the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in Osun.
The endorsement, which comes ahead of next year’s governorship poll, is the first of its kind in the history of the State.
Incidentally, NURTW’s endorsement, which took place yesterday, Wednesday, November 3, is just one of the numerous ones that had taken place in recent times.
Unlike what they were used to in the past, yesterday’s event did not paralyse the State and we did not need to pay anyone for not working, as Okada and ‘Korope’ (intra-city commercial taxi drivers)were allowed to operate unhindered. No one was beaten up by anyone for doing their business. All these were possible because the man at the helm is responsible and responsive as he gave those conditions before accepting to attend the function.
Before the NUTRW’s endorsement, workers under the umbrella of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and the Trade Union Congress, TUC, had done theirs. This is what the Osun NLC Chairman, Comrade Jacob Adekomi, said regarding the workers’ endorsement of Oyetola:
“Oyetola remains our candidate as far as next year’s election is concerned. If he wants to go back to half salary, now is the time to do so because some states have cut down salaries of workers. This man is God-sent, he won’t change.
“Mr. Governor, we make bold to say in you, we have a father not a boss. Though you are firm and principled, the father in you has made the (workers’) movement to record some successes and put smile on the faces of our teeming members without a single day of strike since the inception of your Administration, which no doubt is the fulfilment of the promise of God.
“Though the economy of the world and indeed that of Osun State is in critical state, though some other states who are economically solvent/bouyant than Osun state have not implemented the minimum wage and some who had earlier approved are now reverting to the old minimum wage of eighteen thousand naira, yet the father in you had given the workers in the state the new minimum wage since November, 2020.
“It is also to the credit of this peaceful Administration that some staff members of the Osun State-owned tertiary institutions earlier relieved of their jobs by the immediate past administration were reinstated, and some members of staff of Osun State University Teaching Hospital were equally upgraded.
“Mr Governor, you have never as a father given us serpent instead of fish, neither have you extended to us stone instead of bread. We shall continue to appreciate you on the monthly subventions and release of funds by your Administration to the payments of Contributory Pension Scheme and Outstanding Gratuities.”
The Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, had also taken their turn, with the Chairman, Comrade Adekomi Kabir Adekunle, saying their solidarity and endorsement of Governor Oyetola were informed by the numerous support and honour the Administration has accorded the Union.
Adekunle, who described the achievements of the Administration of Governor Oyetola across sectors, particularly the education sector, as unprecedented in Osun, disclosed that the Union had resolved to rally support for him to ensure he returns to office.
He said: “It is on record that our Governor deserves to be celebrated not only for paying our full salaries as and when due without any hitch, but also for ensuring that no worker suffers anything no matter what since he became the Governor.
“We have seen in him a true leader and he has demonstrated to us that he is a worker-friendly Governor. That is why he has been fulfilling all the promises he made.
“So, we need to appreciate him. That is why we organised this programme. Oyetola is a man of his convictions, a man of his word and a promise keeper. That is why we decided that we cannot be left out in the struggle to let him come back again for second term. We are resolute to rally support for him so that he can win his second term election and return as Governor to serve us more.
“There is need to support him and we are committed to canvassing support for him from our people. We are going to spread the gospel of his good works across the State, particularly within our members and the entire workforce as part of efforts to register our appreciation and solidarity for his government that has done us well and made us proud.”
On his part, a former leader of the Union and former NLC chairman in the State, Comrade Adesiyan Saka Olalere, said the return of schools to their previous status, the restoration of school nomenclatures as well as the scrap of single uniform policy by the Oyetola-led government were in order and not a motive to disparage the good policies of his predecessor.
He said: “To us, the reversal of the names of the public schools across the state among other education reforms by the Oyetola-led Administration was not to rubbish anyone or disparage the works of the immediate past administration but rather, a swift response to people’s yearnings.
“So, as far as the school nomenclature is concerned, it is not true that the present Adminstration is trying to change the narrative. When there is an agitation in the society for the change of a particular policy of government, it is the responsibility of the government to heed to the people’s demands, hence the swift response.
“What we have seen is that government has shown that it has listening ears, as against the insinuations that the initiative was aimed at rubbishing the immediate past regime.
“We all know the side effects of single uniform. Some schools were almost closed down as a result of the unruly behaviour of some students who were as at then difficult to identify due to the single school uniform.
“It is unfortunate that this issue has been politicised. We all knew that the issue of single uniform created a lot of crisis. The State Government was sued by some old students challenging the change of the names of their schools.”
As if that was not enough, the National Union of Local Government Employees, NULGE, also took sides with the people’s Governor. The council workers openly declared their support for the governor, announcing publicly that they would ‘vigorously campaign’ for his victory in the 2022 governorship election.
Their support came barely a week after teachers, under the auspices of Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), also endorsed the governor, using the platform of the World Teachers’ Day.
Speaking at a three-day retreat organised by the Osun branch of the NULGE, the Union President, Mr. Kehinde Ogungbangbe, said since the coming of the governor three years ago, workers’ children no longer suffer any kind of deprivation as salaries now come in regularly.
Ogungbangbe noted that they are aware of enemies both within and without but said that the God who saw to the victory of the governor against all odds in 2018 is still the same God that will deliver victory to the governor in 2022.
He said: “Mr. Governor, Sir, I want to say with utmost sincerity that we are highly fortunate to have you as our father and governor. Your level of humility and milk of human kindness have brought peace and stability to our Union in particular and the state in general. Osun State is no more in the news for the wrong reasons. We are happy to be associated with you. The Almighty God will continue to be with you.
“Your Excellency, we are quite aware of the forthcoming 2022 governorship election in the state. We are not unaware of lies and cries of numerous oppositions both within and without. Your Excellency, we are also quite aware that God, who gave you victory against all odds in 2018, is still on the throne. Your God is not sleeping. We will support you and campaign vigorously for your victory, come next year,” the union leader said.
Also speaking, the National President of the Union, Mr. Akeem Ambali, who conferred the honour of Patron of Union, South West Zone and the award of Labour-Friendly Governor for the South West on Oyetola, noted that workers in the State were not ingrates. He said they would reciprocate the governor’s gesture handsomely during the election.
He also commended the governor for putting an end to what he termed part-payment of salaries of workers and implored him to remain focused as workers would become his foot soldiers and help correct some of the misinformation being spread by the opposition.
But the mother of all endorsements took place yesterday, where the NUTRW leader, who hails from Ijesa Land, advised some antagonists within the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, to rethink and pitch tent with the Governor before the “flight takes off“, adding that once the flight takes off, “they will only be running after it and wave at it as it would leave them behind.”
The NURTW boss, Olalekan Folorunso disclosed that the Union decided to endorse Oyetola for another term after assessing his remarkable and unprecedented achievements across various sectors in the last three years. He commended the Governor for the exemplary way he had been piloting the affairs of Osun and appreciated his Administration for the recognition accorded the Union as critical stakeholders in the development of the State, stating that “it has never been this good.”
Apart from the above unions and workers in the State, the governor has equally enjoyed similar endorsements from members of the party in all the nine federal constituencies in the State. All these, are why they are angry and bitter. Well, for those who are still bitter over the good works God is using Oyetola to do in Osun, I leave them with this famous quote: “You get better by being better; not being bitter. Bitterness is an attachment to the past, being better is an investment in your future.”