ABUJA—The ongoing 11th National Delegates Conference of the Nigeria Labour Congress was thrown into turmoil yesterday following the reopening of nomination for candidates to contest for offices after their disqualification by the Credentials Committee of the NLC saddled with the screening of candidates.
This development confirmed Vanguard’s exclusive report on Monday of plots to alter or reopen the nomination of candidates after the list of dully cleared candidates was published since January 6, 2015.
It was the first time in the 37- year history of the NLC that the Delegates Conference in Session would decide who contests for an office after the credentials committee had concluded its assignment.
The intervention of pioneer officers of the Congress failed to provide an amicable settlement.
Consequently, NLC president, Comrade Abdulwaheed Omar adjourned further discussion on “all unfinished matters “ till today even as he reminded delegates that today is “the D day.”
This development could create a constitutional crisis which according to informed sources was blamed on the leadership failure of the NLC.
As at yesterday evening, it was not clear if the NUTGTWN, deemed to have been elected unopposed but might now face an election would pull out of the conference or the NLC.
It was also not clear if aggrieved parties would go to court for the interpretation of the NLC Constitution before today’s election.
With this new position of the conference in session, it means the NLC secretariat would have to produce new ballot papers to accommodate the two new candidates from NURW and MWUN before today’s election.
A total of 3,019 delegates is expected to vote during the election.
The issue raised on the floor of the house was whether or not the Conference in Session should accept fully the report of the credentials committee which disqualified the nomination of the representative of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, on the basis of failure to fill the nomination form appropriately.
Also disqualified by the credential committee was the nomination of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria which failed to attach to the nomination form the passport and CV of its nominee despite the nominee being a current member of the National Administrative Council NAC. As current member of NAC, the secretariat is in possession of his credentials.
With this sharp disagreement; to fully uphold the report of the credential committee which disqualified the two candidates or call for fresh nomination for them, NLC president, Abdulwaheed Omar put it to vote and those who supported acceptance of nomination of NURTW were in the majority.
If nomination was accepted, Comrade Issa Aremu of the National Union Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria, NUTGTWN, who was deemed to have been elected unopposed would have this reversed and would stand for election.
But the President of NUTGTWN, Comrade Oladele Hunsu, told the house that the union would not be part of the charade where the NLC constitution would trampled upon.
Several speakers including members of NUTGTWN had quoted sections of the constitution they argued went against the position being canvassed that the issue of the nomination after being addressed by the credential committee should be reopened.
Consequently, the union walked out of the conference.
Omar asked if the union’s walk out was a protest against the motion or a walk out of the conference.
He got no answer.
Recall that In 2011, Non Academic Staff Union of Education and Associated Institutions, NASU, walked out of the NLC delegates conference and withdrew from the Labour Centre as a result of political disagreement.
As the debate got heated, pioneer president of NLC and former Secretary General of the Organization of African Trade Union Unity, OATUU, Comrade Hassan Sunmonu, in his intervention, warned members against taking steps that could cause a division in the NLC.
He said, “Is this the time to create crisis within your ranks and weaken your institution. I warn you!”
Comrade Sunmonu said in view of the political situation in the country, “this is the time you need your unity most. I will appeal to you to please don’t bend the rules, solidify the unity of Nigerian workers. This is not the time to create crisis. Respect the constitution and accept the report of the Committee. Don’t say we have not warned you.”
Also speaking, NLC’s first General Secretary, Mallam Aliyu Dangiwa, also warned members not to break the Congress because of personal interest, saying do not put personal interest above the conference .
However, the immediate past general secretary of the NLC, Comrade John Odah differed saying that the fresh nomination should be opened as demanded by delegates.
Odah said that is democracy. He said the Textile union had no reason to walk out because the union’s has had 16 years of service at the hierarchy of the NLC .
He recalled that Comrade Oshiomhole of the Textile union served for eight years as President, while Comrade Issa Aremu also served as Vice- president for another eight years.
With the seeming stalemate, NLC president Omar suspended the discussion to allow veterans discuss with the two aggrieved unions; the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria and the National Union of Road Transport Workers.