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Food union denies leadership crisis as aggrieved members form faction


The National Union of Foods, Beverages and Tobacco Employees (NUFBTE), has refuted reports by some former members that it has a leadership crisis.
The aggrieved members, who pulled out to form a faction, alleged that the leadership of the union was restrained by a court injunction from extending tenure of the president, Lateef Oyelekan, and his executive members.

The acting General Secretary of NUFBTE, Mike Olanrewaju, said the special Delegate Conference, which gave the incumbent President, Lateef Oyelekan two years extension was constitutional and was held under the supervision of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), President, Ayuba Wabba.
He explained that the decision for tenure elongation was unanimously made at the union’s National Executive Council (NEC) meeting held in Abuja and Lagos, when members saw that the leadership had over N200 million check-off dues in savings. They therefore agreed to grant the extension for judicious use of the fund to build another four storeys hotel in Ibadan, Oyo State, for income generation. 
He said: “Our union is not in crisis. Our union is guided by our constitution, and we have been following the dictate of that constitution meticulously without division.

“Our president is at the end of his third tenure, which will expire in December this year. When he was elected, our union was nowhere, no progress, but with commitment and dedication, he made sure he diversified our union in terms of investments. He established so many investments like hotels and water factories.
“It was when our members saw that the leadership had over N200 million in savings that they decided to give the extension for the present NAC to build another four storeys hotel for us in Ibadan, which is now almost on the second floor. It was done to secure the funds and this is what these people are kicking against.”


However, the aggrieved members, led by Peter Onoja, at a press conference, Monday, in Abuja, said the leadership of the union was restrained by a court injunction from extending the tenure of the president and his executive members. 

Onoja said as a result, his team decided to form a faction, which he has now emerged as the President.
“Now we have two factions in the house, I am the President of one of the factions. I am the former National Signing Trustee of the union. Our President has served four years as deputy president, 12 years as president, making a total of 16 years.”
He admitted that the union’s constitution has no tenure limit, but said that the constitution emphasised that there must be elections every four years to choose leadership.
“Our constitution has no tenure limit, you can contest as many times, but the constitution makes it clear that every four years, you must have elections. This year is our conference year and the president wanted to do an emergency delegates conference and the subject matter is only one agenda, tenure elongation. He wants to elongate his tenure for two years.
“So, some of us feel bad that if the constitution says every four years you must hold an election; even if you want to contest, hold an election, if you win everybody will support you legitimately. But he refused; so we approached the National Industrial Court, and on August 19, the National Industrial Court gave an interlocutory injunction that no emergency conference should be held until the determination of the case,” Onaja said.



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