Labour urges African leaders to lead like Mandela

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Africa needs statesmanship as offered by Nelson Mandela, if the continent must meet sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 2030.

Comrade Issa Aremu, NEC member of NLC, the convener of 2019 Nelson Mandela International Day made this observation at the weekend in Ilorin, the Kwara

Nelson Mandela International Day was launched by United Nations on 18 July 2009 to commemorate the lifetime of service Nelson Mandela gave to South Africa and the world. This year’s edition marks the 10th anniversary of Mandela Day.

The labour leader said it was time African leaders led like the late Madiba in terms of statesmanship as distinct from what he called “current pervasive brinkmanship”.

According to him, emulating Nelson Mandela leadership style must start with “little but tangible values as time consciousness and punctuality” .

‘Mandela” he observed “was a stickler to punctuality. Mandela decried the concept of Africa time”. “Africa must be time conscious like Mandela. Africa was unable to meet most of the eight Millenium Development Goals, (MDGS) launched in 2000 and terminated in 2015 .

For Africans to achieve the new sustainable Development Goals ( SDGs) of 2030 statesmanship must start with punctuality to development agenda, we must be time conscious and get the work done at the right time and avoid proscastination .”

He noted that Mandela having gained freedom on 11 February 1990 from 27 years- imprisonment, in record time achieved great feats such as negotiated establishment of democracy and freedom in South Africa in 1994, became the first President of post-apartheid South Africa, enthroned unprecedented racial harmony, forgiveness and reconciliation and though personal integrity got the first hosting right for soccer World Cup for Africa adding that Mandela received more than 260 honors in his lifetime including Nobel Peace Prize.

“Mandela showed that there was no African Time but African Development Time” he noted.

Comrade Aremu who was also 2019 Labour Party Gubernatorial candidate commended the Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq and citizens of state for joining the progressive forces world wide in marking the 10th anniversary of Mandela Day.

He likened 2019 election in the state to the liberation of Kwara from what he described “16 years of PDP rule that has worsened poverty and underdevelopment.”

He hailed the Governor Abdulrazaq for his simplicity and modesty in governance which he said is yielding positive results in education, water and health sectors above all motivation of the civil servants to be productive.

The frontline labour leader described President Muhammadu Buhari as “another Mandela” who said brought “moral authority”, not “deep pockets” to power adding that the President should deliver on his promise on inclusive governance in his expected cabinet.

“The President has commendably promised inclusive governance. The President must work the talk by including not just business men and women in his cabinet but tested members of organized labour, women group and people living with disabilities who must add value in the areas of economy, security and anti corruption.

Nigerians look forward to a pan- Nigerian cabinet”. On the current security challenges, the labour leader advised all political leaders in Nigeria to learn from Mandela approach to conflict resolutions, who he said many times personally intervened and even addressed the nation to douse tensions and restive confidence.

“The recent attempt to politicize the killing and death of Funke, Chief Fasoranti’s daughter shows crisis of governance which only the President can dispel through bold engagement with the citizens.

I commend the recent directive by the President that all Nigerians to stay in any part of the country. Indeed all governors and appointed state officials must compliment the President in ensuring that only elected and appointed officials must speak for Nigerians not some self appointed unelected and unelectable regional or ethnic groups”.

“Mandela stood for reconciliation. President Buhari is in a better position to also reconcile Nigeria. But he can only do this based on comprehensive work plan for genuine National reconciliation. The only document close to that today is 2014 National conference”

On the latest open letter written by former President Olusegun Obasanjo to President Muhammadu Buhari, Comrade Aremu observed that the method of the former President dramatizing personal advise confirms again that he was certainly not leading like Nelson Mandela. “Open letters” he said “ are not helpful. They open more wounds making healing of exiting ones difficult”

“Having left the office in 1999 after one term (unlike OBJ who wanted third term!) former President Mandela never grandstand to openly harass his successors former President Thambo Mbeki or President ZUma as OBJ has casually done with President Musa Yar Adua, President Jonathan and now President Buhari.

OBJ must overcome what is emerging a withdrawal syndrome and approached his successors with dignity and statesmanship not brinkmanship”. While agreeing that the security challenges are daunting the labour leader berated General Obasanjo for “smearing Nigeria with Ruwanda and Yugoslavia brush of disintegration and genocide” .


“Nigeria is work in progress Nation building. This calls for measured and balanced views like Mandela did in and out of office”.

Recalling the tragic killing of Chief Bola Ige, in 2001 a serving Federal Minister of Justice for Nigeria under President Obasanjo, Comrade Aremu said that nobody doubted Nigeria survival as OBJ does now over security challenges.

He said on the contrary the nation demanded for justice for the murdered Minister “which OBJ never ensured for as long he was in office “.

On the theme of 2019 Mandela Day which is for humanity to take Action Against Poverty, Comrade Aremu observed that key to prosperity is revival of closed industries especially textile, to create jobs and incomes for the unemployed youths.

“We Commend President Buhari and CBN under Emefiele in reviving the textile industry. All state governments must also implement the new minimum wage as President Buhari has also directed the federal civil servants be paid the new minimum wage”.

We must also lessen income gap between the rich and the mass poor. OXFAM just reported that inequality in Nigeria has reached extreme levels, despite being the largest economy in Africa. The country has an expanding economy with abundant human capital and the economic potential to lift millions out of poverty.

Comrade Aremu who is also the Vice President of IndustriALL Global Union condemned xenophobia which has led to serial brutal deaths of many Nigerians and other Africans in South Africa. According to him South African leaders must move against xenophobia like Nelson Mandela did, adding that the greatest threat to the new Continental Trade Agreement is “physical insecurity of Africans” .


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