Nigeria Labour Congress confab ends in chaos

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As election fails to hold over allegations of rigging

ABUJA — The 11th quadrennial delegates conference of the NLC ended in a fracas in Abuja, yesterday, as delegates upturned ballot boxes as a result of allegations that multiple ballot papers had been produced to favour a particular candidate.

Trouble started at about 8.10 a.m when members of the National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, were voting. A delegate told Vanguard that those who voted before the union had observed this irregularity but no one raised it.

When the situation, became chaotic, the police ordered everyone out of the hall.

However, delegates gave no room for police to use tear gas as they all moved out of the venue en masse. Those in the hall when it became rowdy included the first general secretary of the NLC, Alhaji Aliyu Dangiwa.

Outside the hall of the International Conference Centre, venue of the conference, a delegate showed to Vanguard a ballot paper for a candidate for the post of trustee which had two different serial numbers.

Yesterday’s rowdy session and an abrupt end of the NLC’s conference was the first in the 37-year history of the labour centre. It was witnessed by international allies of the NLC who were invited for the conference.

A number of workers spoken to attributed the crisis to failure of the leadership and the secretariat.

Efforts to speak with Comrade Abdulwaheed Omar whose term technically expired at the conference were unsuccessful as neither Omar nor the General Secretary, Dr. Peter Ison Ezon, could be located at Labour House head office of the NLC.

Unconfirmed sources, however said, a meeting of the elected and appointed officials under the auspices of the National Administrative Council was going on at a secret location in Abuja.

Before the situation got rowdy, Wednesday, as a delegate, Ismaila Bello of the National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers, called the House to order and called on the Conference in Session to dissolve the executive of Abudulwaheed Omar before the election, in line with trade union practice.

This was, however, turned down by a deputy general secretary of the NLC, Emma Ugboaja who said: “We have checked our constitution and there is no such provision.”

All of these coupled with the incidents of the previous day (Tuesday), such as the adoption of the financial report which was not received by many but was adopted and the failure of the leadership to open up on the over N2.5 billion NLC/Kriston Lally failed housing project contributed to the chaos.

It’s a shame — Dangiwa

Speaking at the venue of the aborted conference, the first general secretary of the NLC, Aliyu Dangiwa, said: “It is a shame. A big shame. I feel disappointed. Whoever caused this has done the worst for the labour movement. Whoever was responsible for this should be traced by Nigerian workers for appropriate action. He should be made to pay for this atrocity against the labour movement.”

It’s unacceptable—SEWUN scribe

The secretary of the Steel Workers Union of Nigeria ( SEWUN), Comrade K. Kadiri on his part said: “It is a shame. Nigeria Labour Congress, which is supposed to lead by example, has perfected rigging for a particular candidate. It is unacceptable.”

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