By Funmi Komolafe
A retired officer of the Canadian Labour Congress,CLC, Mr. Paul Puritt, has protested the termination of the appointment of the General Secretary of the Nigeria Labour Congress,NLC, Comrade John Odah and called for his reinstatement.
He said the termination of Odah’s appointment, “lacks any semblance of due process and undermines the credibility of the NLC”.
In a letter to the NLC president, Abdulwaheed Omar, Mr. Puritt who had worked with the NLC on its education programmes especially the establishment of the rain school wrote “Mr. President, Even though I am retired, I have stayed in touch with several people both within and outside of the NLC who are deeply concerned about the organization and its mandate to represent workers in Nigeria.
Those I have corresponded with in Nigeria and outside as far away as South Africa are unanimously outraged by the recent abusive treatment of Comrade John Odah”.
Vouching for the integrity of Comrade Odah, Mr. Puritt who facilitated NLC,s working relationship with the CLC said he had worked “ closely with John from 1996 to 2001 in an education project on democracy in West Africa along with participants from Nigeria and four other West African national centres. I have since followed very closely John’s tireless efforts on behalf of the NLC and the workers it represents.”
“John is an honest and hard-working trade unionist. In spite of his brief episode with a partial Bell’s palsy and the demands of his family, I have always been amazed at how John placed the needs of the NLC above all else, with no reference to personal remuneration or ambition for himself.”
“I know him to be highly respected by many good trade unionists on the African continent and in North America and Europe as well. You only have to look at the book produced for his 50th birthday to see what I mean.”
Mr. Puritt said, “I was given an NLC cap some years ago as a token of the NLC’s appreciation of my efforts in your education program when I participated in Rain and Harmattan schools even after our own CLC project was completed. I used to wear this cap with pride.
Mr. President, I am now ashamed to put this cap on my head. And, in fact, I have vowed that I will not wear it again until John Odah is reinstated into his position as the Gen. Sec. of the NLC.”
Urging Comrade Abdulwaheed Omar not to see his intervention as an “outside interference in the internal affairs of the NLC. But you should know that any national organization’s deeds and misdeeds never stay “internal”.
“The NLC has a reputation not only as the largest trade union body on the African continent, but also abroad (thanks largely to John Odah’s efforts and reputation) as a champion of workers’ rights. Your actions concerning John Odah, you must realize, lack any semblance of due process and are widely seen as undermining the legitimacy and credibility of the Nigeria Labour Congress.”.
Concluding, he said “I trust that you will see the light, act like a real trade unionist yourself, and reverse this situation as soon as possible.”