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Ebonyi NLC crisis deepens as South East intervenes

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The President of the Nigerian Labour Congress, Ayuba Wabba PHOTO: NAN

The leadership crisis rocking the Ebonyi State Congress of the Nigeria Labour Congress has taken a more nasty turn as the state government has sealed the secretariat of the Congress.

This comes as the South-East Zonal leadership of the NLC has taken decision to intervene in the disagreement.

The State’s Board of Internal Revenue said it sealed off the NLC secretariat over unpaid five years tenancy rate.

A faction of the State’s congress had penultimate week claimed it had removed the State chairman, Ikechukwu Nwafor from office and replaced him with his Deputy, Leonard Nkah during an emergency SEC meeting wherein they had accused him of embezzlement among other allegations.

Reacting to the disagreement, the Zonal Chairman of NLC South-East, Uchenna Obigwe of the Abia State chapter represented by his Enugu counterpart, Nwobodo Virginus, who was delegated to Ebonyi on a fact-finding mission has countered that the action of the Nkah-led faction was a wrong step.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Guardian, Nwobodo said the current period that Ebonyi workers in particular and Nigerian workers in general found themselves in is not a time Labour leaders should throw-up crisis situations when they should be more concerned about the welfare of their members who are facing dire economic challenges.

“I am displeased from what I observed. It is disheartening to know that the Executive Governor of Ebonyi State could say it publicly that Nwafor is no longer the Chairman of NLC because he said something in relation to the contributory pension scheme to the effect that the Governor should increase the government’s percentage from 5 per cent to 10 per cent. The conclusion of the position of the government is that the workers should continue to pay 8 per cent while the government pays only 5 per cent instead of 10 per cent allowed by labour laws.”

He submitted that their findings seems to be in conformity with the earlier position of the State’s NLC that the State government did not follow due process in the implementation of the scheme as it should have put a Board in place before implementing the law.

“They (government) did not consult labour before introducing the scheme. That should have been an act of collective bargaining. They should have sat down with the Stakeholders to discuss such that the government would have told them what they could afford. And they would negotiate”, he maintained.

He blamed the State government for being in a hurry to go into the scheme without first consulting the labour unions.

Reacting to the purported removal of the State’s NLC boss, Nwobodo alleged that the State government is using Nkah-led faction in order to deny workers their rights.

Nwobodo declared that the state council has no right to suspend state executive and described the purported suspension as ‘action in futility’.

“It is unfortunate for the government because it does not have the right to suspend the NLC Chairman. The only body that reserves the right to do that is the national body and that is the NEC. The SEC has no such right to put up a memo and claim to have suspended an elected Chairman”, he had reiterated.

Calling on the Nkah-led faction to retrace their steps and not betray Ebonyi workers and their fellow unionists, Nwobodo said NLC is not a ‘beer parlour’ organization as it has procedures for electing and removing a Chairman from office.

In a telephone interview however, factional Chairman of NLC in the state, Nkah queried the visit of the zonal leaders as he had wondered who he actually met.

He equally dismissed the allegations that the State government was funding the group.


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