Yours comradely salute and congratulate President Muhammed Buhari, Ashiwaju Bola Tinubu all the APC governors and APC delegates for reposing a unique consensus in a globally acknowledged mobiliser, motivator, organizer and a tested patriot as the chairman of the ruling APC. The choice of Comrade Adams at the weekend in Abuja shows that APC is truly set to make a difference in the country in line with its newly adopted slogan of “PROGRESS”! Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole, deserves a special commendation for his historic emergence as the second National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). The consensus election of Comrade Adams is a total victory for us in Textile workers Union. We celebrate as comrades of his primary first union of choice. Comrade Adams started as a worker in Arewa Textile mill in 1969, became a union organizer in 1975 and served as the General Secretary of our union for three decades (1982 to 2008).
In 2008 I took over from Comrade Adams as the General Secretary of Textile union after he became twice elected President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) (1999 to 2007). Thus comrade’s new challenge is a total commitment for me like other comrades. Comrade Adams, our former Generla Secretary unarguably remains today one of the most successful African labour leaders. He has commendably distinguished himself as a private sector unionist in the world of work, (where in textile industry and in NLC he spiritedly and selflessly defended workers!) and in larger society where through good governance (as former twice elected Comrade Governor of Edo state,) had impacted positively on the welfare and security of the people.
Definitely Nigeria and Africa need more tested trade unionists and non-state civil society actors in governance to uplift Africa from underdevelopment and inequality into prosperity and equity. We recall that recently too, South Africa elected Comrade Cyril Ramaphosa, as the new South Africa President having also won as the Deputy President of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), the oldest political movement in Africa. Comrade Cyril was the pioneer General Secretary of the National Union of mines workers (NUM) of South Africa and also founding General Secretary of Congress of South Africa Trade Unions (COSATU)!
Undoubtedly Comrade Adams as an organizer, bargainer, negotiator and statesman is an asset not just to the APC but to the entire country. For a party coming out of the stress of controversial primaries, comrade Adams brings to table his experiences in social dialogue and compromises in resolving post primary crises. With rich background in the principles of consultation, democracy, team work, persuasion and independence, Adams is better positioned to refocus the abundant energy in APC towards nation building.
Nigeria is never short of party chairmen. Given the groundswell of mass confidence reposed in him, Comrade Adams and his team are expected to reinvent the ruling party to focus on issues of governance as envisaged by 1999 constitution. The acceptance remarks of the new Chairman have commendably acknowledged these challenges . There is an urgent need for quality control of Nigerian politics; from quantitative elected chieftains to qualitative policies and ideas to transform Nigeria. APC must urgently lead the campaign for re-industrialization through sustainable industrial policies and electrification. APC must work the policies contained in Economic Recovery Growth Plan (EPRG), National Industrialization Plan and 2014 National conference report on manufacturing. More than other political parties Chairmen, Comrade Adams must impress on his ruling government at Federal and textile states level to revive moribund textile industries one of which he came from.
The party must lead in policy implementation. One acid test is the recent decision of the Federal Government to shut down the land border between Nigeria and Benin Republic in an official attempt to curb smuggling of foreign rice into the country. It is our considered opinion that Benin Republic is nothing but a “border smuggler-economy”. Nigerian economy cannot recover and create needed mass jobs, until there is a cessation to serial border smuggling of all manner of goods. Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, had said that shutting the borders had become necessary to encourage local production and sustain the economy of the country.
Apart from crisis of electricity supply, endemic smuggling through Benin border was a singular factor that has led to the total collapse of most manufacturing especially textile and automobile industries in Nigeria with attendant loss of millions of jobs. We commend the implementation of Anchor Borrowers’ Programme initiated by the Central Bank which has dramatically led to self-sufficiency in rice production. However unless drastic actions such as border closures were taken, the new rice revolution, like other past self sufficiency measures would be a mirage. It will be recalled that it was Benin border closure by the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2000 that led to an unprecedented recovery of the poultry and textile sectors in Nigeria. Smuggling must be treated as “an unofficial declaration of economic war against Nigeria by Benin Republic.” Smuggling is already killing Nigeria. Smuggling is not a legitimate trade or business. Rather it is a zero-sum illegal activity in which smugglers take all unearned benefits living the Nigeria with woes. Smugglers don’t pay taxes, government loses incomes. Smugglers corrupt and even kill custom workers. Smugglers kill local industries and kill jobs with cheap and even poisonous goods like parboiled rice”.
All states must emulate the remarkable partnerships” between the Federal Government and governors of Kebbi, Lagos, Kano, Jigawa Anambra and Ebonyi which under Buhari admin in two years reduced rice importation by 95 per cent and increased the number of rice farmers from five million to 30 million. The rice revolution shows that Nigeria and indeed Africa need “activist not passive developmentalist states”. Government definitely has “business in business”. Nigeria needs not just Rice Revolution, but Textile Revolution, Automobile Revolution and Mass Decent jobs Revolution. Nigeria must develop anti-smuggling strategy that must handsomely reward performing custom officials and impose stiff sanctions against Customs staff who collude with smugglers.
Lastly giving the enormous tasks of nation building with respect to insecurity, systemic corruption, infrastructure deficits, the new Chairman must promote bipartisan approaches to critical issues of development. Addictive opposition and contestations must be moderated with democratic culture of inclusion and consultations with other political parties and of course mass organizations such as trade unions.