Frank Kokori’s Final Advice To Nigeria: CSOs, Organised Labour, Citizens, Should Monitor Savings From Subsidy Removal

Ex-NUPENG General Secretary, Chief Frank Kokori

By Bukola Kayode

Icon of the labour movement in Nigeria, Chief Frank Kokori died at 80 in Delta State in the early hours of Thursday.

Kokori a former General Secretary of the Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, is celebrated for his role in the June 12 struggle, as well as his unwavering stance against corruption and bad governance.

He was also an interviewer’s delight with his frank and informed take on national issues. In one of his last interviews published by Vanguard newspaper, after speaking on several burning issues, he was asked to give Nigerians advice.

In response, the late elder statesman called on Nigerians to monitor what the President Bola Tinubu-led Federal Government does with the huge sums saved from fuel subsidy removal. He opined that fuel subsidy removal became inevitable, however, politicians must be monitored to prevent them from squandering savings from subsidy removal.

He said: “Normally, every surgical operation is painful, so now we are passing through a terrible situation; the fuel subsidy removal is biting, but then, we canโ€™t continue with it.

“Most of the money from subsidy, Nigerians should have their eyes on it; they should help the government; civil society organizations, led by Labour and the progressive press, these are the people you can trust, not the politicians”.

Kokori seemed to have regretted supporting President Muhammadu Buhari into power. He was quoted as saying Buhari who came into government based on his anti-corruption reputation, but ended up leading a corrupt administration for eight years.

He said: “Buhari came under the mantra of anti-corruption, but we were surprised that he failed Nigerians. When he, as a young man, and Tunde Idiagbon ruled as military leaders for a short time, Nigerians saw what is called discipline and everything was moving in the right direction.

“That record was what Buhari used and he was living a frugal life, but his second coming as a civilian, he loved luxury and wastages. Nigeriaโ€™s President is very powerful, so, if anybody who is there cannot use his powers properly, he lets down the people. Former President Goodluck Jonathan failed Nigerians. At his age and academic background, we thought he will bring glory to Nigerians, but the young man failed our country”.

For President Tinubu, Kokori, gave him two years to solve the high-level insecurity enveloping the country.

His words: “Nobody is going to tell me that we have not spent enough money to fight insecurity. We have spent more than enough compared to our GDP, but our security agents and people in authority have not measured up to standard, so, some of us have become disillusioned, those of us who are patriotic, nationalistic Nigerians who have lived our lives making sacrifices right from when we were young.

“I believe that this new government of Bola Tinubu understands, but let us give him two years to see what he can do about security, I am sure he will do it, because Tinubu, at his age, l donโ€™t think he is looking for bribe, stealing of Nigeriaโ€™s money. God has blessed him and has been so good to him, so let us watch him”.

Still on his expectations of President Tinubu, the late elder statesman told Vanguard that he expects Tinubu to bring his many years of calling for ‘true’ federalism in opposition to fruition, now that he is the nation’s leader.

“After a year, he should start thinking seriously about it (federalism). Nigeria should go true federalism. Actually, that is one of the anchors of Afenifere. If Tinubu does not do that, then he has betrayed the people and he will lose his base in the South-West, South-East, South-South and even the Middle Belt”, he was quoted as saying.

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