ADAMS OSHIOHOLE: Labour leader and activist and politician

ADAMS OSHIOHOLE: Labour leader and activist and politician


Adams Oshiomhole is prominently recognised as former president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), a former two-term Governor of Edo State in Nigeria and currently National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is one politician who is in the public glare from 1999 till date.

Before stepping into politics, Oshiomole was the president of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) where he gained huge popularity.

After democracy was restored in 1999, he became president of the Nigerian Labour Congress and was prominent as the leader of a campaign of industrial action against high oil prices in Nigeria.

1982, Adams Oshiomhole was appointed General Secretary of the National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria, a union with over 75,000 workers.

The Textile union elected Oshiomhole for a second term as General Secretary, while he continued as president of NLC.

Early in the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo he negotiated a 25% wage increase for public sector workers. In return he publicly supported Obasanjo and endorsed his candidacy when he was re-elected in 2003.

His relationship with Obasanjo turned sour as neglect of local oil refineries led to reliance on imported gasoline, followed by rises in the price of fuel. Oshiomhole led strikes and demonstrations against the increase.

He most famously led a nationwide strike against high oil prices in Nigeria. He had fought for the reversal of pump price increases introduced by President Obasanjo leading to strikes and demonstrations against the increases. He was persecuted for his relentless moves against the then government concerning the fuel crisis.

He faced arrests, tear gas and temporary blockades of union offices, and Obasanjo introduced legislation to make it more difficult for the NLC to strike.

The NLC alleges that on 9 October 2004 Oshiomhole was abducted by State Security Services during a protest, but the Nigerian government said he submitted to voluntary custody.

Oshiomhole represented African Workers for two terms on the Governing Body of the International Labour Organization (ILO), serving on the committee on Freedom of Association.

He was also a member of the Executive Board of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions.

Oshiomhole forayed into politics in April 2007, when he ran for Governor of Edo State under the Action Congress Party, with which his Labour Party had entered a strategic alliance.

Oserheimen Osunbor of the People’s Democratic Party(PDP) was declared the winner. However, the AC contested the election on the basis of various irregularities.

On 20 March 2008, an Edo State election tribunal nullified the election of Oserheimen Osunbor and declared Oshiomhole the winner. and on 11 November 2008, a federal Appeal Court sitting in Benin City upheld the ruling of the state’s elections petitions tribunal, declaring Oshiomole to be the Governor of Edo State. The decision was based on several voting irregularities.

In 2012, he was re-elected for a second term, winning the elections in a massive landslide and he governed till November 12 2016.

Oshiomhole ventured into party politics on 23 June 2018 and emerged the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) following a voice vote by delegates at the party National convention.

Bringing his hard stance on issues into politics and coming with a mind set of reforming the party which was alleged to have been enmeshed in crisis under his predecessor, John Odigie-Oyegun, his tenure so far has not been crisis free

Oshiomhole faced a lot of persecution from party members shortly before the 2019 general election as he was accused of favouritism of some candidates and taking side with few anointed candidates against party chairmen at State level

This, however, led to the unfortunate losing of grounds by the ruling party to the PDP in some states, notably Adamawa, Bauchi,Oyo and lastly Zamfara.

Presently, Oshiomhole is battling to save his job as the National Chairman as pressure continues to mount on him to step down from office.

Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole was born on 4 April 1952 at Iyamho, near Auchi in Edo State. He was born Muslim but was led to Christianity by his late wife Clara who died of cancer aged 54.

He is Catholic and his Christian name is Eric. After his secondary education, he obtained a job with the Arewa Textiles Company, where he was elected union secretary. He became a full-time trade union organizer in 1975.

He then studied at Ruskin College, Oxford in the United Kingdom where he majored in economics and industrial relations. He also attended the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru. In May 2015 he married a young model called Lara Fortes.

About the author

Chuka Francis

Leave a Comment