The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) have described the death of the General Secretary of the Radio, Television and Theatre Arts Workers Union (RATTAWU), Comrade Henry Odugala as a huge loss to labour and the nation.
In a statement signed by the Deputy Director, Press, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Prince Samuel Olowookere, the minister said the immense contributions of late Comrade Odugala to the struggle for a better working conditions for journalists will be greatly missed.
Expressing utter disbelief at his sudden demise, Senator Ngige said labour has lost one of its leaders whose insistence on social dialogue as a way to industrial harmony was exemplary.
“The issue of improved remuneration for practicing journalists, commensurate with the attendant job risk, unique and tasking work schedules has been on the top burner for years now. RATTAWU which is central to this struggle has remained steadfast to achieving the objective through broad based social dialogue. The efforts of late Henry Odugala in this struggle must be put on record.”
According to the Minister, “that Odugala passed on just few days after the commemoration of the international day to end impunity and crimes against Journalists and journalism practice, a course he believed so much in, adds to the pains of his irreplaceable loss.”
“I therefore wish to send deep condolences to his family, RATTAWU, the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) and the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) on this sad development”.
In a statement titled “We Have Lost a Star, signed by the NLC General Secretary, Comrade Peter Ozo-Eson, he said the congress is deeply saddened by the sudden death of Comrade Henry Odugala, General Secretary of the Radio Television and Theatre Arts Workers Union (RATTAWU).
He described him as a cerebral unionist with deep convictions and capacity for spontaneity which he deployed with flourish at public fora, adding that his presentation, skills and carriage were inimitable.
The NLC General Secretary said “Odugala did not trust the system, no matter how benevolent, and accordingly called for eternal vigilance of progressive forces. He was equally a strong believer in the culture of internal governance in unions as a panacea to corruption and dictatorship.
“His humility was unmistakable as he cultivated the young and the old, the high and the mighty, often with an outstretched hand and a smile. Even before becoming General Secretary of, arguably one of our most vocal unions, Odugala had earned his stripes as a committed progressive in both Student Union Movement Civil Society and political organisations, especially NADECO, on the basis of which he was a regular guest of the state.
“On Odugala’s broad shoulders and measured steps rested rebellion of a kind. Perhaps, one of his greatest attributes was his flair for combining humour with serious work and for moulding something out of the mischievous and the sublime.
Odugala’s death is a blow not only to his union or the Nigeria Labour Congress, but the entire Labour Movement.”