NLC splits, Ajaero emerges as factional president
Following the emergence of Joe Ajaero as factional president of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) at the ‘special delegates conference’ in Lagos yesterday, there are indications that the leadership of the Congress may meet today to deliberate on how to deal with the crisis which could lead to demise of the once all-powerful organisation.
Also elected were the National Union of Textile, Garments and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN) and former Vice President of NLC, Issa Aremu, who emerged as deputy president, the National President of National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas (NUPENG) and former Trustee of NLC, Igwe Achese also emerged deputy president and Kasumu Kadiri elected vice president.
The group is still searching for the third deputy president as stipulated by the NLC constitution. However, in a swift reaction, the NLC General Secretary, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson told The Guardian on phone that the election is an ‘‘exercise in futility’’ and that relevant organs of Congress would soon meet to determine the next line of action.
NUPENG president, who confirmed the election of the trio after the ‘special delegates conference,’ which held at the Mainland Hotel, Oyingbo, Lagos, added that the ‘election’ of the officers was conducted after about 20 unions that make up the group passed a resolution for the election process to commence today instead of tomorrow that the election was originally slated to hold.
Achese said: “Well, the election has taken place and officers have emerged. Ajaero emerged president while I emerged deputy alongside Issa Aremu after a resolution that the election should hold passed without any dissent.”
The Guardian gathered that there were notable absentees from the ‘special delegates conference’ such as a returning officer, Registrar of Trade Unions, representatives of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity, labour veterans and secretariat workers. In condemning the activities of the splinter group, Ozo-Eson cited the Article 9 of the extant Constitution of the NLC, which spells out how members of NAC can emerge, saying there is no place for ‘special delegates conference.’
He added: “The trio (Ajaero, Igwe and Aremu), who in their own admission in the communiqué allegedly signed by them are former officers of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and not being the general secretary of the Congress, lacked the capacity to convene the Central Working Committee and National Executive Council meeting of the Congress, allegedly held on March 14, 2015 or any time thereafter.
“The so-called CWC/NEC meeting allegedly held on March 14 2015, and which is in turn convened their so-called “Special Delegates Conference” are not recognised or valid meetings of these organs, i.e. the Central Working Committee and the National Executive Council of the Nigeria Labour Congress as contemplated and prescribed by Article 7 and 8 of the Constitution of the Nigeria Labour Congress 2011 which is extant Constitution of the Congress, both in terms of notice, attendance and quorum.”
Speaking after he was ‘elected,’ Ajaero while reeling out his plans and programmes for workers, promised to overhaul NLC. Ajaero alleged that the former president of NLC, Abdulwaheed Omar had failed to address issues of casualisation/contract staffing, implementation of minimum wage among others, which were some of the issues that had affected the union in the last four years.
“As you know, the powers and influence of Nigeria Labour Congress in terms of the defence of workers’ rights and being the vanguard of the poor and the oppressed in our country has been at its lowest level in the last four years under the failed leadership of Abdulwaheed Omar.
“The Abdulwaheed Omar leadership had failed significantly on the euphoria of the extra ordinary performance of the NLC under the leadership of Adams Oshiomhole between 1999 and 2007. Unfortunately that momentum could not be sustained as NLC under Omar lost focus, direction, discipline, sense of duty and commitment to the cause of the working people as mani
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