Negotiation and discussion are the greatest weapons we have for promoting peace and development – Nelson Mandela
“A man whose personality is fully developed never fears anything; he cringes not, and never feels inferior to anyone; His breadth of mind enables him to exercise his freedom in such a manner as not to endanger the interests and freedom of others. He is a citizen of the world – free from narrow prejudices. He is what he is because the three main constituents of his entity – his body, brain, and mind – are fully developed. Mens Sana in Corpore Sano!” – Obafemi Awolowo – Voice of Reason (1981)
Peace and development cannot exist without justice, justice cannot exist without fairness, fairness cannot exist without development, development cannot exist without democracy, democracy cannot exist without respect for the identity and worth of cultures and peoples. — Rigoberta Menchu
I think that nonviolence is one way of saying that there are other ways to solve problems, not only through weapons and war. Nonviolence also means the recognition that the person on one side of the trench and the person on the other side of the trench are both human beings, with the same faculties. At some point they have to begin to understand one another. – Rigoberta Menchu
WRANGLING OR CONTENTION IS A HUMAN TRAIT: The first two personalities quoted above need no introduction. They came and saw it all; engraving their names on the positive pages of history. They are unique role models. The author of the last three quotes above, is much younger than many of the parties on the negotiating table for the implementation of the new minimum wage currently ongoing. Rigoberta Menchú, 60 years old, is a Guatemalan who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1992. That is no mean achievement. Terrific Headlines adopts a neutral posture in the matter of threats of industrial action. We are on the side of the common good which dictates that parties to a dispute must consider all facts available and pursue the option of peaceful resolution of conflicts; which could, however, break down should parties fail to agree. But for the common good, they must understand themselves.
GOVERNANCE AS A DIFFICULT TASK: Human resource management is the most difficult part of management. It is a reality that an Obafemi Awolowo or Nnamdi Azikiwe would have flourished and excelled tremendously as an American president or British Prime Minister; whereas, the possibility is very high that a Barack Obama or Tony Blair, brought to govern Nigeria of today, would all things being equal, fail fantastically; as they would be forced to drive in the type of late Prof. Ayodele Awojobi’s Autonov 1 vehicle, with steering commands at the front and the rear. Someone will handle the front steering and another person will handle the rear. And so, like physicists would say about the Law of Motion “action and reaction are always equal and opposite”
REMINISCENCES: In my public service outing, I was privileged to witness negotiating sessions. The one that is closest to what is currently happening was recorded between Colonel Theophilus Bamigboye, retd; a most compassionate personality who was then the military administrator of Osun State and labour leaders in the State. Colonel Bamigboye had been posted to Osun from Bauchi in 1998; and had resolved to leave his footprints on the sands of time. I was his Chief Press Secretary. A few months into his tenure, the military authorities, the bosses in Abuja announced a wage increase for workers. Osun workers wanted the increase immediately, and did not care whether the government could afford it or not. No explanations would convince the workers that the total allocation accruable to Osun State from all sources was about one-third of the total amount required to pay the new salaries. All Bamigboye’s personal efforts at explaining the situation fell on deaf ears. I heard the chairman of the Joint Negotiating team, Comrade Sola Olanrewaju, tell the military administrator: “go to your father in Abuja for the difference.”
Before then, some of us in the governor’s personal staff in a pre-meeting session had cautioned against being upset by the rude and provocative utterances that the workers’ negotiating team was bound to make. But being a military man, there was a limit to the level of insubordination that he could take, and neither could he just get up, go to Abuja, and demand for more money. The meeting ended in a fiasco and, happily for Bamigboye, he soon returned to the barracks without having to find the money from nowhere. Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole later came to lead a non-violent mass protest in Osogbo. But it is doubtful if labour leaders – members of his constituency would listen to him if he shows up at the venue of negotiations. The most important thing for both parties or elephants to consider is the plight of the masses who would suffer untold deprivations on account of failed negotiations. No government house will be affected in any way by what to consume, electricity or water supply. Rather, innocent lives may be lost in the event of a lockdown. We stand for the common good since all facts are not open to us to be able to make informed comments. From experience, the Labour Minister and the Secretary to the Government are the two key parties that would attempt to convince workers while the Joint Negotiating team would also present their own position. Best wishes to both sides.