Succession crisis sets transport unions on the edge
The succession crisis that has hit the rank and file of road transport trade unions- National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) and Amalgamated Commercial Motorcycle Riders And Owners Association of Nigeria (ACOMORAN), in states where new governors took over, is like a time bomb, which requires deft management.
Since the inauguration of the new administrations on May 29, transport unions’ officials loyal to parties in power in states; have been threatening to forcefully take over motor parks.
Findings show that Southwest states appear worst hit, as news of planned attacks by opposing camps, is on the increase.
Currently, Oyo and Ogun have suspended activities of the unions indefinitely, after considering a possible threat to life and property.
A few weeks ago, the Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde banned union activities in the state, due to bloody clashes that followed the take-over of the parks by the faction allegedly loyal to his party-the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The Guardian learned that the faction loyal to the All Progressives Congress (APC), which reigned at the parks for the eight years of Governor Abiola Ajimobi’s government, had failed to honour the ‘gentleman’ agreement with their PDP faction.
Findings show that the clashes would have been averted if the other camp had willingly surrendered the leadership, but the resistance sparked-off the bloody acrimony.
In Ogun State, The Guardian investigation shows that the faction loyal to the Allied Peoples Movement (APM), a party sponsored by former Governor Ibikunle Amosun, had been dethroned by APC factions in some parks.
Stiff resistance in some major parks yet to be taken over and plans by the dethroned factions to reclaim their seats is heating up the state.
Four weeks ago, The Guardian learned that it was a free-for-all across parks in Ewekoro Local Government Area of the state, as cutlasses and other weapons were freely used. In the end, though no life was lost many people were injured. The same scenario reportedly played out in parks in Ifo council area.
Since then, fear of reprisals has enveloped most of the flashpoints, as rumours of violence have become the order of the day across the state.
Prior to the dissolution of their executives by the state government, the State Police Command issued a strong warning to the various unions, to desist from acts capable of causing violence in the state.
Earlier, the Commissioner of Police, Bashir Makama met the various unions on different
Oyo, Ogun Ban Activities occasions where he enlightened them on the need to eschew violence and channel their grievances if any through the laid down procedure of their union’s constitutions.
He warned that the command will not hesitate to deal decisively with anybody caught fomenting trouble.
In Lagos, one person was killed in the crisis that erupted between rival groups of the NURTW.
The clash reportedly took place between rival members of the union in the Apapa Iganmu area of the state.
The rival groups were members of the NURTW supporting the elected national President, Alhaji Tajudeen Ibikunle Baruwa and the Lagos State Chairman, Alhaji Taju- den Agbede, respectively.
The bloody clash saw market women, commercial vehicle operators, including private car owners, running for dear lives, when a faction, linked to Baruwa group, headed by Comrade Sulaimon Kudeti, branch chairman, Apapa, blocked the main road at Ijora 7up area, where an open party celebrating the emergence of the newly elected National President, Baruwa who defeated Agbede’s faction in the just concluded election in Abuja was on.
When contacted on the development, the Chief Press Secretary to Ogun State Governor, Mr. Kunle Somorin, who replied via a statement, said a 13-man interim committee has been set up to coordinate the activities of all the road transport trade unions in the state.
He said their task is to basically review the operations of the unions and make recommendations on how the unions could be better organised to support the developmental agenda of the state.
“The interim Committee is expected to educate and create awareness amongst the stakeholders in the sector on the need to ensure peaceful conduct at all times and avoid any activities that could undermine peace, security, and safety of life and property in the state.”
In a chat with journalists, Oyo State Governor, Makinde, who said his government, is still studying the ban with keen interest said: “I told them that we were not interested in stopping them from running their unions because it is registered under the law. But we cannot allow a few people to hold the state to ransom in the name of running a union.
“I am talking to the security agencies in the state; we know the flashpoints and we know exactly what needs to be done. So, I said that security-wise, we would do what we deem best for Oyo State and we intend to make Oyo State one of the safest in the country.”