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Labour Leader No. 1, Chief Michael Imoudu Turns 100 Years Today

By Funmi Komolafe, Vanguard (Lagos), 17 September 2002

Imoudu, the doyen of the labour movement was born in Sabongida Ora, Edo State on September 17, 1902.

Several industrial unions affiliated to the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) have sent messages of congratulations to the Labour Leader No. 1.

In its message, the National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers, said, the labour movement appreciates the courage of Pa Imoudu, especially during his challenge of the colonial railway managers.

The National Union of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Employees, stated that the fundamental roles played by Comrade Michael Imoudu in the colonial and post-independence Nigeria for the emancipation of the proletariat, will ever remain indelible in our minds and continue to serve as a source of energy and inspiration in the struggle for better conditions of employment and qualitative education.

The President of the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities and Associated Institutions, Comrade Ivor Takor, who is also the Deputy Treasurer of the NLC commended Pa Imoudu for his selflessness and commitment not only to the struggle of the working class but also the political independence of Nigeria.

As Imoudu marks his centenary anniversary, union leaders have called for a higher national award for the Labour Leader No. 1.

The General Secretary of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Comrade Joseph Akinlaja, said: It is unfortunate that government has not accorded him his dues. I am not surprised though. The perception of government is anti-labour. It is very difficult for government to think about honouring labour leaders. In developing countries irrespective of labour's opposition to government, they still see labour as a social partner.

The General Secretary, National Union of Chemical, Footwear, Rubber, Leather and Non-Metallic Products, Comrade Emma Ugboaja said: For those of us who are committed to trade unionism, he is a solid beacon of light and a wonderful inspiration that has shown that you don't need to go overseas for treatment. You don't need to accumulate wealth or stolen money to live long. We are happy for him.

Imoudu's birthday is being celebrated in the labour movement because of his outstanding contributions to the struggle for the nation's independence and the improvement of working conditions for workers. During his active days, Imoudu who was an employee of the Railways, was imprisoned. While in prison, he mobilised prisoners against the colonial government and the prisoners embarked on hunger strike.

In 1945, he along with other union leaders embarked on a national strike to put pressure on the British colonialists to pay workers a cost of living allowance in order to cushion the effect of the second world war on workers.

Imoudu was a former President of the Railway Workers Union and first President of the independently formed Nigeria Labour Congress.

Also today, former Labour Minister, Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia will mark his 70th birthday anniversary. Dr. Ogbemudia, a former Governor of the old Edo and Delta states was Labour Minister 1994-1995.