Friday, July 21, 2017 11:34 am
By Gbenro Adesina/Ikire
As part of the activities lined up for the funeral of a foremost Nigerian Industrial Relations scholar, Professor Funminiyi Adewumi, socialists, Marxists, students, scholars, family and friends gathered on Thursday 20 July 2017, at ETF Building, Hall A, College of Humanities and Culture, Osun State University, OSU, for a national symposium in honour of the deceased. The symposium, put together by the committee of Friends and comrades, in collaboration with Friedrich Ebert STIFUNG, is titled, “The Struggle for Democratic Space, Labour and the Socio-Economic Liberation of Nigeria”.
On Wednesday 12 July 2017, Adewumi passed on at University College Hospital, UCH, Ibadan after a brief illness and will be buried in his Ikere-Ekiti home town on Friday 21 July 2017.
In attendance were: Publisher, Premium Times, Dapo Olorunyomi; Executive Editor, TheNEWS Magazine/ PMNEWS, Kunle Ajibade; Kayode Komolafe, Deputy MD, Thisday; Owei Lakemfa, a labour activist; Dr. Wumi Raji; Professor Oluranti Afowowe; Secretary General, Federation of Informal Workers of Nigeria, FIWON, Comrade Salisu Nuhu Mohammed. Comrade Ahmed Yusuf, Comrade Ismail Bello, Comrade Abiodun Aremu of Amilcar Cabral Ideological School, Comrade Yemisi Bamgbose who represented the President, Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, Provost, College of Humanities and Culture, Professor Abayomi Folorunso were also there. Others present were: children and sisters of the deceased, Taiwo and Kehinde Adewumi, Mrs. F. O. Akinyele, Mrs. Temilola Otutu, and her husband, Mr Olatunde.
Speakers at the occasion eulogised the deceased as he was described as a nomadic and restless scholar, socialist, Marxist, erudite scholar, rugged, brilliant, selfless, epitome of a good academic, intelligent, hardworking, humble, and easy going individual who until his death committed to changing Nigeria for the better.#
The Chairman of the occasion, Dr Dipo Fasina, the former President, Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, recounted how, last month, he and the deceased had a discussion on how to move Nigeria forward at the national office of the National Universities Commission, NUC, Abuja. According to Fasina, the duo who were at NUC office for accreditation exercise of Nigerian universities agreed that efforts should be geared toward making the nation a socialist country. “We spent time together discussing how to turn things around in Nigeria. When alive, he was so preoccupied with how to regain the nation from bad leadership telling me that his only wish is that Nigeria will become a socialist country. He was so serious about mobilising Nigerians for this course. He was a socialist Nigerian. Funmi said that we cannot have future for our children if we do not change Nigeria to a socialist country where our rights will be respected and granted. We need a country where everybody will have access to good health facilities, social facilities and good education”, Fasina said.
Fasina concluded by calling on Nigerians to reject capitalism and go for socialism stressing that a specific ideology that can take Nigeria to a promised land is socialism.
In his own speech, a radical lawyer, Barrister Femi Aborisade summed up the deceased’s idea in five words, “Politician is problem of people”, adding, “Adewumi summarised the nation’s problem by saying, “the problem of people is the politician”.
Expatiating, Aborisade who stated that members of the ruling elite constitute the problem of the socialist noted that throughout the life of the late scholar, he fought against the idea of politicians seeking public power and using it against the public interest. He said, “Adewumi was an organiser who belonged to Socialist Workers’ League which I belong. He was among the greatest Nigerians who Nigerian youths should struggle to read. To know how our society must be emancipated, you must read the works of Adewumi. Politician is the enemy of the people. Adewumi was a Marxist. I want you to see the All Progressives Congress, APC, as the greatest enemy of Nigeria and anybody that is interested in the emancipation of Nigeria should not have anything to do with APC. APC and Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, are the same. Let us organise against APC. Let us look for alternative to APC and PDP”.
In the same direction, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Femi Falana bemoaned the nation’s state pointing out that if the nation has a functioning heath institution, Adewumi would not have died. “Funmi fell ill during the weekend. He was rushed to UCH and admitted to emergency unit. This shows that he required emergency treatment. Unfortunately, he was not given the attention he deserved. Our democratic struggle must be reorganised. Forget APC and PDP. It is time to start serious campaign for a socialist party. What is your business with President Muhammadu Buhari suffering from cancer? Is he not a human being like us? He is a human being like us and as a human being, he can fall sick at any time. But the question is that why Buhari must be given a special treatment at the nation’s cost when he does not have two heads. We should all have access to the same health facilities that members of the political class have access to. Nothing is working in Nigeria. All the constitutional provisions for health are not implemented. We must form a socialist party”.
In a paper titled, “Internal Democracy and Workers Power in the Trade Union Movement”, former Labour Editor, Vanguard Newspaper, Mrs. Funmi Komolafe, pointed out that trade unions lack internal democracy, stressing that this spelt a danger for the workers and the nation at large. Komolafe lamented that the current crop of labour leaders are not servant leaders, pointing out, “Funmi Adewumi of blessed memory was very critical of union leaders who had become lords rather than managers of trade unions. He was critical of the lifestyle of many trade unionists that lived flamboyant lives at the expense of workers. She stated further that a new dimension to the distorted democracy in the unions is a trend that has seen elected presidents of unions who are supposed to be part time officials becoming general secretary which is a full time job.
“Elected officials use this method to become sit-tight leaders which they are aware could be challenged if they remain elected officials. Also, since the law in Nigeria does not allow for executive president therefore only a transformation to the post of general secretary would give them full control of the secretariat and indeed the purse of the unions”, she added.
Komolafe also lamented that many of the union leaders have not done much to improve the working conditions and take home pay of workers yet they live fat on check-off adding, “Union leaders no longer meet workers to earn check-off dues because the law in Nigeria has made check-off dues automatic. This created a generation of arm-chair trade unionists. Today, we have labour leaders who insist on flying first class when the worker they represent cannot afford to fly economic class in an air plane”.
She advocated a need for transparent democracy in the trade unions noting that it is time for all members of trade unions to have a say in who represents them stressing that the cost of organising a platform for true democracy should not over-ride the interest of workers. She queried, “Had trade unions played the role of watch-dogs like the press, perhaps many African nations would have developed at a faster space. Perhaps leaders would have been more accountable unlike what we have now where a corrupt president dares the electorate by manipulating party members for the endorsement even in the face of glaring corruption like we have in South Africa”.
She concluded by noting that hope is however not lost. “The downturn in the economy could cause more workers to take greater interest in the activities of their trade unions. Like the political class, labour bureaucrats and elected officials who see the union as their empire should prepare for a revolution that could take place when they least expect”.
In the same direction, Prof. Wole Atere of the College of Management, Osun State University, lamented that unions were no longer run on its core values as agitations are now motivated by personal interests. He added that internal democracy is absolutely lacking in the unions. “Union leaders are robust through the check-off due from members. Leadership position is a cult and you get there by being anointed. Our members are now failing in their responsibilities. Some do not go to class to teach as they should. They spend unions fund without getting permissions”.
Dr Sola Olorunyomi of the University of Ibadan, UI, advocated that labour unions should participate in the nation’s politics to be able to effect positive change. He equally warned against ethnicity and religious bigotry pointing out that unionism is founded on radicalism not rascality.
Kayode Komolafe also spoke generally about student union politics and specifically about progressive political organisation to which Funmi belonged in his days at the Universtiy of Ife. He encouraged students present at the event to emulate him.
Mrs. Remi Ihejirika of Friedrich Ebert STIFUNG who could not hold back tears while speaking said that the nation has just lost a potential that it would take years to replace noting that the deceased has contributed his quota to the best Nigeria is today.
For Prof. Siyan Oyeweso of the College of Humanities, Osun State University, added that the best that could be done for the deceased is to immotalise him in various ways.
Adewuni was born into the family of Chief Francis Durojaye Adewumi and Mrs. Florence Bosede Adewumi of Olule’s compound, Oke’kere, Ikere-Ekiti on 2nd September 1960. He completed his primary education at Everlasting Rock African Church Primary School, Epinmi Akoko in 1971. For his secondary education, he attended Annunciation School and African Church Comprehensive High School both in Ikere-Ekiti. For his university education, he was admitted to the University of Ife now Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU in September 1977 where he obtained the BA Hons (Education History) in 1981. Afterward, he proceeded to the University of Ibadan between September 1983 and November 1987 where he earned M.Ed degree in Industrial Relations in December 1983 and PhD degree in November 1987 specialising in Industrial Relations & Industrial Sociology.
Adewumi acquired varied and rich working experiences. His academic career was crowned with his appointment as the Crawford University’s first Professor on the 1st August, 2008. He was also at the Osun State University, Okuku Campus as professor of Industrial Relations in the College of Human Resource Development and life-long learning. On 15 October 2008, he was appointed the Dean of the College of Business and Social Sciences until he left the services of the University at the end of September 2009.
He consulted for some trade unions and served as a resource person to many others. He also consulted for national and international NGOs as well as bi-lateral and multilateral agencies. He was a member of the International Labour and Employment Relations Association based in Geneva, the Working Class Studies Association in the USA and Convener of Working Class and Trade Union Studies Association of Nigeria, member of the Nigerian Industrial and Employment Relations Association and Nigerian Anthropological and Sociological Association as well as strong official of ASUU. He was the Editor of the Nigerian Journal of Industrial Relations since March 2004. He has over 100 published articles and conference papers.