By Victor Ahiuma-Young
While most unions in the country are lamenting over dwindling income occasioned by declining membership, National Union of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Employees, NUFBTE, is busy diversifying and expanding its income base. Like Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State, and immediate past President of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, would say, nobody achieves success through lamentation, but by confronting the object of lamentation head on.
Since assuming office two years ago, Comrade Lateef Oyelekan-led leadership of NUFBTE, has intensified theÂ investment drive.
At the National Executive Council, NEC, meeting to mark the first anniversary of their election, the union commissioned a multi-purpose hall and the solidarity venture, which is already generating incomeÂ for the union outside the traditional check-off dues.
At theÂ NEC meeting held in Asaba, Delta state, aÂ fortnight ago, the executiveÂ unfolded plans its to further diversified the revenue base of the union.
Addressing members and guests at the Asaba NEC, the president of NUFBTE, Comrade Lateef Oyelekan, recalledÂ â€œlast year, we commissioned both a multi-purpose hall and a solidarity centre at our national secretariat. I am happy you to inform you that customers have been patronizing both places and they are beginning to boost the financial capacity of our great union.
We did promise last year that the multi-purpose hall and the solidarity venture would not be the end of our efforts at boosting the revenue base of our union. I am proud to inform you that ourÂ great union has acquired two plots of land in Berger, Ikeja area of Lagos, where we intend to construct a 45-bed room guest house with standard conference hall, mini-restaurant, inner and outside bar among other necessary things.
Skeletal works have already begun on the site. We have set a two-year target for the completion of this project. We are also expecting some plots of land from Delta and Edo state governments under the leadership of Dr. Uduaghan and
Comrade Oshiomhole to buildÂ guest housesÂ in the two states. Indeed, our target is to have guest houses in our13 state councils.â€
Already, while the Delta state government has given the unionÂ two plots of land for the project, the Edo state government which was represented by the Commissioner for Housing and Land Survey, Comrade Didi Adodo, asked the union to apply to the government, assuring that once the union applies, it would receive appropriate attention.
Laments poverty level
On the state of the nation, Comrade Oyelekan said:.It is sad that since our last NEC, the socio-economic and political situations in the country, instead of improving, hasÂ worsened.. The conditions of Nigerians are getting worse by the day and they have become very restless and desperate in their bid to earn a living. The level of poverty has kept rising, unemployment crisis has been compounded, there is no sign that the worsening power situation in the country will improve. Corruption is at the roof top and the anti-graft agencies appear to have been given up while politicians and government officers display ill-gotten wealth with reckless abandon.
Our road networks have completely collapsed and the infrastructure areÂ worse. The lamentations are endless.Â We call on politicians and our leaders to do the right thing and inspire hope in our people. We believe Nigerians are wiser now .â€
Earlier at a pre-NEC award Night , the union gave awards to six employers in the food and beverage sector, five of its state councils, three branches and three secretariat staff of the union for it calls â€œexcellent performanceâ€.
The employers are Nigerian Breweries, NB Plc, Nigerian Bottling Company, NBC Plc, Nestle Foods Plc, 7UP Bottling Company Plc, Nigerian Flour Mills Plc, Friesland (WAMCO) and Grand Cereal. The state councils so honoured include Lagos council 1 and 11, Plateau state council, Enugu and Abia state councils.
Explaining reasons for the award, Comrade Oyelekan, said â€œwe are givinvÂ awards to some of our employers, state councils, branches and secretariat staff for the excellent performance and as a motivation for others to emulate them.
In our sector, we have some labour friendly employers; who have in policies and practices, not only given some levels of motivation to our members, but also full support to the union towards to ensure that the union continues to grown from strength to strength. Some of the employers since the past one year that we set up the solidarity centre, have given full support to the centre by ensuring that their products are not in short supply.
For some, part of the motivational measures to our members include; profit sharing besides Christmas bonus, sending staff to religious pilgrimages among others. We have no doubt enjoyed good working relationship with some of our employers and management.â€
Declares firm workersâ€™ enemy
Comrade Oyelekan however identified as Intercontinental Distillers Plc , based in Ota, Ogun state as one of the companies with which the union has some contentious labour issues. We want to use this medium to sound a note of warning to the management and others themÂ like it to turn a new leaf and embrace positive industrial relations. We are also using this avenue to call on the employersâ€™ federation to call this company and others like it to order because we will not hesitate to shut down the entire sector because of their anti-workers posture because an injury to one is an injury to other.â€
Responding on behalf of employers who were honoured, Human Resources Director, Nigerian Flour Mill Plc, Mrs Mary Uriah, while commending the union for the award, said the union was reaping the benefits of positive change.
Recalling the leadership crisis that engulfed the union not long ago, Mrs Uriah spoke against sit-tight leaders and called on the present leadership of the union led by Comrade Oyelekan, to remain focus in the part of progress.
Speaking at the NEC meeting, President of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Comrade Abdulwaheed Omar, said the Food union was the most progressing in the country and commended the current leadership .
According to him, the commitment of the leaders of union to progress was one of the reasons they had not diverted the unionâ€™s fund to personal pockets and called on union leaders to learn from the quality leadership of NUFBTE.