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Personality Profile: COMRADE Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole

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COMRADE Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole was born April 4, 1953 in Iyamoh, near Auchi in Edo State.

Oshiomhole’s worldview became distilled and refined by his early encounters with the real world, especially the world of work. Below are a few landmarks:

* In 1969, he was thrown out of a factory because a manager felt Adams was too short and frail to endure the reality of factory labour. This firsthand contact with arbitrariness and cruelty shaped his perception that justice and fairness are not always on display in the world of work. This was for him a great challenge even in those early days. However, he got a job all the same because another manager in the same factory was willing to give him a chance to earn a livelihood and prove that he could be useful. This was for Adams a reward for capacity to make his case with clarity and persistence.

From his desk at the design section of the Arewa Textile, he observed the vast evidences of criminality perpetrated by management. The disciplinary regime was brutal, authoritarian, leaving no room for fair hearing. The workers considered the union leaders ineffective.

* In 1971, an uprising earned him an opportunity to prove himself as a union leader. Some of his colleagues considered him a noisemaker and an idealist. However, the journey to an eventful and successful career in the trade union movement had begun.

* In 1975, he abandoned the textile mill and became a full time unionist. As a union organiser he cruised northern Nigeria on motorbike; then union leaders did not enjoy the luxury of cars or jeeps. He was critical to establishing and sustaining union presence in many textile mills and other industries, under extremely difficult circumstances.

* He later studied Labour Studies at Ruskin College, Oxford, specialising in economics and industrial relations. At the end of the rigorous multi-disciplinary programme at Ruskin College, he emerged as the Best Foreign Student. Higher education equipped him with enhanced theoretical and intellectual acumen.

* He is also an alumnus of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, and the Kennedy School of Government of the Howard University.

* In 1982, he was appointed the General Secretary/Chief Executive of the National Union of Textile and Garment Workers of Nigeria. It was obvious that a genius was on board. The capacities that he brought on board transformed the union fundamentally.

* In 1988, he was elected deputy president of the NLC in 1988. Even as a deputy president, he established enough clout to be the flag bearer of a tendency that espoused independent and militant unionism. Those who opposed the mainstream politics of collaboration of the labour movement rallied under Oshiomhole.

* With the dissolution of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) by the military in 1995, Oshiomhole and others went into the trenches. The movement became a terrain of fierce contestation between the Abacha Regime and comrades who believed that labour must be rescued. Adams Oshiomhole and a few others gave leadership to the resistance to the military at great risk to their lives. Indeed, at some point, the military government enacted a decree with the sole purpose of disqualifying him from contesting for the NLC Presidency.

* On January 28, 1999, with the restoration of democracy and the return of the NLC, Oshiomhole became president of the NLC.
He has several sobriquets according to the circumstances. He was “Hurricane Adams,” “Adamant Adams,” “The People’s President.” The Punch newspaper declared him ‘Man of the Year’ in 2000 while The Guardian and Newswatch magazine also named him Man of the Year in 2005. He was honoured with the traditional title of Omo’kpanabiewho (One man like a nation) of Auchi kingdom. Former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, once described him as a compulsive agitator.

* As President of NLC or as the People’s President, Oshiomhole led protests and strikes against arbitrary increases in the prices of petroleum products. His leadership of the NLC secured significant salary increases for all workers in the country in May 2000, including a subsequent 12.5 per cent salary increase for workers across board. Under his stewardship, NLC has become public protector number one.
He has served the nation and international agencies in various capacities. He was a

* Member, Salaries and Wages Commission, 1991-1994;

* Member, Vision 2010 Committee, 1996-1997

* Member, National Council of Nigerian Vision NCNV, 1997 – to date

* Member, Constitutional Debate Co-ordinating Committee

* Member, National Council on Privatisation 1999-Date

* Chairman, Board of Directors, Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund 2000-2004

* Member, Board of Directors, Trustfund Pension PLC

* Chairman, National Anti-AIDS Campaign, 2001-2002

* President, Organisation of Trade Unions of West Africa, OTUWA, 2000 to 2004

* Member, Executive Board, International Confederation of Free Trade Unions ICFTU 2000-Date

* Member, Executive Board, International Confederation of Trade Unions, African

* Regional Organisation ICFTU-AFRO 2001-Date

* Member, Governing Body, ILO since June 2002.

However, the All Progressives Congress (APC) elected Oshiomhole as the new National Chairman at the last national convention that was held in Abuja.

The immediate past governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, took over the office from his fellow Edo indigene and indeed former governor, John Odigie-Oyegun.

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