Information Minister Mr. Labaran Maku has advocated the establishment of a special fund to take care of the families of fallen activists in the labour and social movements who dedicated their lives to the struggle for democracy, freedom and welfare of the citizens. He made the call in Abuja at the presentation of a book on the biography of the Late Comrade Olaitan Oyerinde, a former Deputy General Secretary of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) who was murdered in cold blood on May 4, 2012 while serving as the Principal Private Secretary of Edo State Governor Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
The Minister said when such a fund was established, it would routinely organise means of supporting the economic and social well-being of the families of fallen activists as a mark of honour and appreciation for the sacrifices they made to improve the way the society was governed.
“If we have a standing fund for fallen comrades, it means that as workers, we will contribute, as public servants, we will contribute, as business people, we will contribute according to our capacities and that will then make it possible for that foundation to reach out to the children of our fallen comrades.
“I have discovered that it is not easy for you to remember when you act as an individual because you are always overwhelmed by the daily pressures of the work you do but if there is a movement or an organisation that will constantly remind us because it is their duty to do so, then all of us can always make contributions for those who have fallen because this is our duty, it’s our responsibility to do so”, the Minister said.
Mr. Maku attributed the return of democracy to Nigeria in 1999 to the struggle and sacrifices of the social activists rather than the partisan politicians, and said the nation owed the fallen activists a duty to ensure that their families live comfortably. “When the annulment came (June 12), the people who made it impossible for the military to stay were not the politicians. They were those of us who were not members of registered political parties that said this game must end and we aroused Nigerians,” he said.
Mr. Maku paid tributes to the Late Comrade Oyerinde for his struggle against Apartheid and settler-colonialism in Southern Africa and the campaign for liberal democracy against communism since the university days . He said the democracy which people like the Late Comrade Oyerinde fought for Nigeria was now delivering results in different sectors of the economy under President Goodluck Jonathan as evidenced in the revival of the railways to provide alternative and affordable means of transportation, reforms in the power sector and the construction of ten new power plants, massive roads construction, establishment of thirteen universities in three years among others.
In his address of welcome, President of the Nigeria Labour Congress Comrade Abdulwahid Omar condemned the assassination of Comrade Oyerinde and vowed that the labour movement would not rest until justice is delivered in the case.
He said the NLC had immortalised the deceased by naming the Conference Hall at the Labour House in Abuja after the Late Comrade Oyerinde.
Edo State Governor Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who was represented by the Commissioner for Establishment and Special Duties, Comrade Didi Adodo, showered encomiums on the late Comrade Oyerinde for his invaluable service to the labour movement and Edo State Government even though he hailed from Osun State.
Several political and labour leaders took turns to pay tributes to Late Comrade Olaitan Oyerinde on the occasion.