Kwara guber: We're in people's heart, not on billboards - Aremu
Comrade Isa Aremu, a former Vice President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and current Secretary – General of National Union of Textiles and Garments Workers Union of Nigeria, is one of the top contenders for the 2019 governorship election in kwara state. Umar Bayo Abdulwahab writes on his recent outing.
The man Issa Aremu
He was the first to emerge as governorship candidate for the 2019 governorship election in kwara state. At a time when other political parties were enmeshed in internal wrangling, he had secured the governorship ticket of Labour Party through a mandate given to him at hitch- free primaries.
Although, Aremu, who is also the Vice President, Industrial Global ALL Union, is seen by some as a green horn in kwara politics, the labour leader has remained a force to be reckoned with as far as national and international industrial and economic matters are concerned.
His voice has always been heard on issues concerning workers' welfare, state of the nation and governance of kwara state. Little wonder that the process (Primaries) that produced him as the Labour Party’ s governorship candidate that Sunday, September 8, 2018, was a mere affirmation of his candidacy by delegates who had gathered at the party secretariat, Ilorin from across the 16 local government areas of the state.
The choice of Labour party
Commenting on his choice to run under the Labour Party, the foremost unionist leader said "I chose Labour Party because of its ideology. The ideology of our party derives from its orientation and social base, which is people-oriented and all inclusive.
"Consequently, the principles of our party shall be humanistic, patriotic, pan-African and democratic socialist. This is because the party was established to promote and defend the rights and welfare of the masses and indeed the entire humanity. I will uplift the conditions of life of all Kwarans, the prosperity and stability of the state and I will also guarantee the reign of equity and justice.
"Further to the above, the ideology of the labour party and its members shall be social democracy. Therefore, our party will promote and defend social democratic principles and the ideals for the purpose of achieving social justice, progress and people's democracy and unity in the country".
The above declaration was received with rousing ovation by the delegates and other members of the party that were on hand and they expressed confidence that were their candidate given the mandate to govern, then Kwarans shall be liberated and the state set for true development.
A day with the physically challenged persons
Living up to his words, on Monday, December 3rd ,2018, Aremu assembled hundreds of persons living with disabilities at the Africa's People Hall, Ilorin to show them love on the occasion of the International Day of Persons Living with Disabilities.
Unveiling his plans for the physically challenged, Aremuce promised to introduce special grants for persons living with disabilities in Nigeria.
He also promised to appoint qualified persons irrespective of their physically challenged condition to serve in his cabinet, if eventually he was elected as governor of the state come March, this year.
Aremu, who is also a member of National Income and Salaries Wages Commission and NLC NEC member added that he would offer "conditional cash transfer" to people living with disabilities if elected as governor.
The LP candidate said he organised the programme in line with the ideology of his party which promotes "inclusiveness and equalities amongst all Nigerians".
Commenting on the theme for the celebration "Empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equalities", Aremu said, the physically challenged persons "don’t need charity but empowerment".
He challenged government at all levels to embark on programmes that will make life bearable and meaningful for the physically challenged persons as well as ensure that they are included in the "Sustainable Development Goals".
“Insha Allah, if we become governor, every December 3rd will be as important as Children’s Day. We will celebrate it the same way we celebrate Father’s and Democracy day. That is how to avoid stigmatisations, he said.
Kwara's depressed economy
Also speaking at a party with Journalists where he explained his party's 5- Ps- agenda, the labour leader lamented that the poverty index in the country is embarrassing and therefore highly unacceptable.
Quoting from an economic expert in a UNDP reports, he said: "Poverty index in North central is 67 percent while it is 73 percent in kwara State", a statistic, which he said, 'is disturbing'.
"Our prayers is God's willing, there will be conditional cash transfer for the unemployed and, for the aged .Under us, we will not only pay minimum wage, we will pay living wage as at when due, we will pay pension wage.
"You can't run a good economy if you don't pay salaries that is why kwara economy is depressed. If you delay salaries, you don't pay on time, is criminal. There will be health insurance coverage for everyone", he added.
As a way out for the state, the economy expert explained that the labour party's idea on prosperity is to resuscitate all the moribund industries in the state and ensure that they are brought back to life and made fully ready to engage the people.
The choice of running mate
Explaining the rationale for choosing a woman as his running mate, the comrade governorship candidate hinged his decision on the concept of popular participation.
This, according to him, must include women and the physically challenged. "Women have to be involved, that is why I choose a woman as my running mate".
Explaining the concept of partnership, Aremu said his administration, if given the mandate, will not be at logger heads with the federal government,
"We will partner with state and local governments, neighbouring states and we must also partner with federal government. Under our government, we will cooperate with all stakeholders for the good of the state. There has to be constructive engagement. We will not be fighting the federal government", he said
Rated amongst the three leading contenders for the 2019 governorship race in the state, the comrade governorship candidate as he is fondly called expressed confidence that the opposition will wrest power from the ruling government in the state.
"Our people have the choice to make and I think we are no more helpless. We may not have the kind of means they have but we have values. We have characters. We may not be on the billboards, but we are in the heart of the people", he boasted.
Challenging the status quo
For the LP governorship candidate, “Kwarans must make a choice whether to change or continue with thuggery. “We are bringing character into this campaign”, he said added that the LP would be willing to alignment any political party or parties that share its ideology. Further, he predicted, “We are going to make a choice on who to support for the presidency. We are not going to return thieves into power".