As the workers celebrate the May Day today, a labour veteran and pro-democracy activist, Comrade Frank Kokori, has said that politicians who came out of the 1993-98 struggle for the entrenchment of democracy, have failed the country. The former Secretary of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), now Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, also stated that the present government is incapable of making the nation’s refinery work.
Chief Kokori in an interview at the NUPENG Special Delegates Conference in Lagos, lamented that the politicians have failed to live up to the expectation as true democrats. “There is no doubt about it that the Nigerian politicians which came out of the struggle for democracy which we had between 1993 and 94, to 98 have let us down”, he said. He noted that it was not only the veterans in the struggle that the politicians have let down but the entire people of Nigeria.
He said: “Everybody, they’ve let us down. Actually we were thinking that by now a lot of things would have changed in Nigeria. First of all the issue of corruption, corruption is annoying, it’s becoming obscene and people are very sad about it and any government that could not attack corruption and allow those people who have looted to go unpunished, there is no message being given to the people.” On what would make the refineries work, Kokori, who was once a major stakeholder in the industry, stated matter of fact that the present administration do not have the ability to make the Nigeria refinery work.
He reasoned that though he was a great crusader and advocate that government should do everything, but have now seen that government cannot only do everything. “In other words, this privatization that they are saying, normally, if you own something, you take care of it”, he said. He, however, stated that the government’s inability to make things work was aged long neglect of most infrastructure, which dates back to military rule.
“But a powerful government should have been able to take care of the refineries, stop corruption and run them properly, but this government is incapable, it’s not this government. Right from the time of the time of military, the government had shown incapability of running refinery”, he harped. The former labour leader believed that present-day politicians and leaders have been having a field-day in corruption because the new crop of labour leaders have failed in their responsibility towards the people. “Labour is not doing its role very well. Labour should monitor the government properly. Labour should be seen scrutinizing every aspect of governance”, he said.
On the problem of crude oil theft in the downstream sector, Kokori said that the cause is largely due to unemployment and government inability to take care of the people. “When you leave so many people you called agile young people, that are in the stage of activity, unoccupied. When you are in your twenty to thirty, that is when you are really productive, some of us when we were in our twenty, we were already calling the shots, like me at 26, I was already heading a section in the Electricity Corporation of Nigeria (ECN), which we now called PHCN, NEPA.
At 26, I was heading a section in Ijora here. If you don’t past through me as the head of that section, you can’t even have a meter in Lagos. Why should I go and be a militant or go and be an armed robber when I was already breeding children, married and everything. When the country take care of you, then you take care of the country, but when the country does not take care of its youth, then the youths have no regard for that country.”
Source: The Sun.