Political Leadership often means that the winner extends a hand of fellowship to the defeated party. It demands that the winner does not urinate on the corpse of the fallen antagonist. This is what the president should do now. The labor leaders have called for a two day peace on the war they imposed on an unwilling nation. They have wagged their fingers and tested their following and we have seen what they can do.
They divided the nation into a fault line that we did not know existed. Noises were made on the Western Front but dead silence was observed in Eastern Half. From Maiduguri to Port Harcourt people went about their businesses and from Kano to Lagos we heard scattering noises. According to reports the numbers have started dwindling from Wednesday and as of today Friday when the strike was “suspended” the numbers have fallen precipitously low hence the saving words “ there would be only a small number of demonstrators on Friday” even though the strike was not called off until Friday morning.
Mr. President you have weathered this storm but the danger is to start glowing and accepting high fives and sending home the defeated to shame and infamy.
Resist this as strongly as you can.
Rehabilitate the defeated. Treat them with dignity.
Here are some of the things to do after the scheduled meetings with you over the weekend.
- You had summoned them (NLC & TUC) to a meeting before they embarked on their illegal strike and they refused and demanded open and humiliating surrender or else. Do not return their incivility. Meet with them and let them understand as clearly as you are capable that if you and they are to serve the country there must be negotiations. There must be respect for the courts of law. There must be respect for all the arms of government like the legislature. They neglected all these arms. Let them know that they represent workers but that you represent Nigerians, the unemployed, farmers, traders, etc. You represent Nigeria. They are the 1% and you are the 100%
- They would demand that you remove the subsidy. Let them know that that has come to be the policy. People want strong presidents and leaders. If in doubt see what has happened to President Obama’s poll numbers after he stood up to the Republicans. There will be no more “wimpy President Jonathan, the compromiser.” But the olive branch to them would be that you would withdraw the no payment for missed days of work policy. They will be paid for their illegal vacation. That is some thing for them to brag about and take to their workers.
- Assure them that the proposed public transportation improvements from buses to trains will be rapidly implemented to cushion the suffering.
- Assure them that matters pending in courts would not be pursued unless there are further violations of the peace of the country.
- Assure them that you would not proceed to force them from the leadership of their unions or to proscribe their organizations until they try next time.
- Let them know that if come Monday and the strike resumes all the offers on the table now would be withdrawn and the process of promoting people on the job to the positions of those on strike would begin, that replacement workers would be sought and the no pay for striking policy would be back.
Mr. President this is the time to speak good English or deep Ijaw to the misguided leaders of the unions and to the political hands hiding behind them. They have tried to bring you down but have failed. They have also realized that the attempt to fracture Nigeria along their designs have little support. The country did not divide along north south lines, did not divide along PDP/CPC/ACN lines; nor did it divide along Christian/Muslim fracture lines. You had your support across the board.
But they did not.
But Mr. President treat them with dignity. Do not send them back empty handed.
Give them something to crow about.
Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba
January 13, 2012