By Dupe Olaoye-Osinkolu
The young woman was devastated when a group of picketers forced their way into the banking hall of First Bank, Adeniyi Jones, Ikeja branch.
Singing pro-labour songs, the protesters sent cashiers away from their duty posts, made an announcement of ‘No Transaction’, showed customers the way out of the bank.
A young mother went to the leader of the picketers; “Comrade Oshiomhole, my little boy is ill, I need money for his healthcare, that’smy reason for coming to the bank.”
The NLC President dipped his hand in his pocket, pulled out a wad of Naira notes, gave to the woman with an advice. “Here, go and take care of your son, but change your bank, this is not a progessive bank…” The woman thanked him as she hurriedly left the bank, pulling her little son along. The gratitude written all over her was noticeable.
As a Labour Correspondent then, I was moved by the woman’s countenance and made it the intro for my news story.
Now, history was recently made in Nigeria by the Inspector General of Police.
The stage was set at the Nigeria Police Force Headquarters. The Production Manager being Alkali Baba the IGP and the actors at the centre stage, were Mr and Mrs Kehinde Longe.
The IGP’s recent action of decorating a police couple, Yetunde and Kehinde Longe as Commissioners of Police informed this piece as the action brought reminiscences.
What actually crossed my mind was the coincidence in the name; Longe.
About 21 years ago, a former Managing Director of the First Bank Plc, Mr Bernard Longe introduced a policy in his reforms which mandates a female First Banker who married a co-staff to resign after the marriage.
The Nigeria Labour Congress under the leadership of Comrade Adam Oshiomole would have none of that.
Oshiomole even said from his investigations, Longe met his co-worker wife as a staff of First Bank, and married her. Nobody sacked the woman because she married him. The then NLC President made so much noise about his ‘discovery’. They both remained in the service of the bank until Mrs Bernard Longe decided to resign and go into private business.
The circular announcing the policy caused a lot of uproar as the workers enlisted the support of Labour to kick against same.
The question that came to mind after the elevation of the Longe couple was; were Alkali Baba to act like Bernard Longe, what would have happened to Yetunde Longe’s career after marrying her colleague? She merited the promotion, deserved the honour, but what if the IGP had said, ‘because you’re married to another police officer, let’s just promote your husband while you remain where you are. If Bernard Longe’s vision of ‘no workplace love’, ‘no career lane romance’ had gained popularity in other areas of the economy, what would have happened to the likes of Yetunde Longe?
Labour at the time suggested the transfer of one of the couples to another branch or different state since the bank has branches nationwide. Longe said no, the battle line was thereafter drawn but Labour had its way.
Congratulations, Yetunde Longe, as your time of honour came during the tenure of a humane, world-class and understanding Inspector General of Police. Greater heights for you and your heart-throb.