NLC Election Ends In Crisis And Inconclusive

Crisis is presently rocking the number one labour centre in the country, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), following the disruption of its 11th Delegates’ Conference and inconclusive election, early Thursday morning.

For the first time in the history of the congress, its delegates’ conference was inconclusive and election stalemated. As of the time of going to the press last night, leaders of the congress were still making frantic efforts to resolve the crisis, following an emergency National Administrative Council (NAC) meeting called by its General Secretary, Peter Ozo-Eson.

After the initial early, but normal hitches that rocked the conference due to disqualification of some contestants who filled their forms wrongly was resolved, the election kicked off smoothly late Wednesday night, but not after some candidates have stepped down to support and boosted the chances of others.

President of the NUPENG, Igwe Achese, who was one of the three candidates initially contesting for the NLC presidency seat, publicly announced his withdrawal in support of Nigeria Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) General Scretary, Joe Ajaero and decided to go for the post of a deputy president.

General Secretary of Texile Workers and former vice president of NLC, Issa Aremu, also withdrew from contesting for the post of vice president.

At that point, the race for the NLC president was between Ajaero and the president of Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWHUN), Ayuba Wabba.

The election commenced on a peaceful note, but on Thursday morning, when the delegates from NUEE were voting, they alleged a discovery that the names of some candidates appeared in some of the ballot booklets in more than one and two places.

When this was discovered, the process was disrupted, leading to scampering which forced everybody to leave the venue.

However, Ajaero and Achese alleged fraud in the election process, insisting that they would not accept it.

Meanwhile, after the alleged irregularities in the ballot papers, which sparked uproar among the delegates and resulting in the cancellation of the election, delegates loyal to Ajaero hijacked the ballot boxes and other election materials, throwing the venue of the conference into confusion.

Nigerian Tribune gathered that the outgoing president, Abdulwahed Omar, insisted on continuing as the president of NLC and conduct a fresh election that would be acceptable by all before his term would expire in March, but the condition was immediately rejected by Ajaero and Achese, who stated that Omar should vacate the seat and allow the General Secretary to run the congress till an interim leadership was put in place.

They claimed that Omar had messed up the electoral process and that if the election had been concluded, he would have since handed over to the next president and vacated the seat.

Both Ajaero and Achese left the venue of the meeting, describing the meeting being led by Omar as illegal, and that they would not be parties to it.

They insisted that there was no more NAC in place after the stalemate, saying that they would not sit under the leadership of Omar.

Speaking while he stormed out of the meeting, Achese alleged that NLC leadership which failed to dissolve the Omar-led executive deliberately orchestrated the failure of the delegates’ conference in a bid to extend the tenure of Omar.

Achese said: “I don’t know what to call it— mistake, manipulation or well-articulated effort to rig the election in favour of a particular candidate?

“Imagine a situation, where Ayuba Wabba’s name appeared on a ballot booklet twice or thrice. It’s obvious that NLC wanted Wabba to win the election against the choice of other delegates.”

He pointed out that the outgoing executive violated existing constitution of NLC for not dissolving the executive council led by the outgoing president, having the prior knowledge of the irregularities that would be experienced during the poll.

Wabba, however, said the disruption of the election was intentional, adding that this was done when they realised that they cannot win the election after about 23 unions had voted.

He said the election was going on smoothly, when suddenly the other group disrupted it; and he pointed out that the event and activities in the last three days preceeding the election clearly showed that the other group had plans to make the election inconclusive.

Asked if he had reached out to the electoral committee, he said: “I shouldn’t be the one to do that; I have no basis to do that, it is essentially their work. It is headed by a very respected person, Dr Fagge, the president of ASUU. He is a very repected person, who managed the process very well.

“The NAC is the second highest organ after the delegates’ conference. Certainly, I think it will meet to decide the next line of action, but it is really unfortunate; people ought to be responsible, as there are processes. Instead of resorting to acts of hooliganism, there should be civilised processes of addressing whatever grievances there are.”
He called on his members to remain calm and await further directive


Chris Kehinde Nwandu is the Editor In Chief of CKNNEWS || He is a Law graduate and an Alumnus of Lagos State University, Lead City University Ibadan and Nigerian Institute Of Journalism || With over 2 decades practice in Journalism, PR and Advertising, he is a member of several Professional bodies within and outside Nigeria || Member: Institute Of Chartered Arbitrators ( UK ) || Member : Institute of Chartered Mediators And Conciliation || Member : Nigerian Institute Of Public Relations || Member : Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria || Fellow : Institute of Personality Development And Customer Relationship Management || Member and Chairman Board Of Trustees: Guild Of Professional Bloggers of Nigeria

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