By Dayo Johnson
AKURE—The once united and formidable Carpenter and Furniture Makers Professional Unions Ondo state Chapter is now disunited. No thanks to alleged high-handedness by leaders of the Association.
South West Voice learnt that the crisis which has lasted over a year has degenerated and has led some members of the union to break-away and formed another union called Carpenter Association of Nigeria.
However, the insistence of the parent body to continue to collect fees from the break-away group snowballed into a bloody clash last week, leaving many members from both sides wounded and hospitalised.
It took the timely intervention of detectives from the State Police Command to quell the clash, which saw the members fighting with dangerous weapons.
South West Voice gathered that the crux of the matter was that some well educated members of the parent body allegedly diverted furniture contracts awarded to the union by the state government running into millions of naira.
The contracts according to investigation has to do with the supply of table and chairs for the Mega Primary schools constructed by government across the state.
One of the members of the break-away union said the ‘educated leaders always corner the lion share of the gains of the contracts, leaving others to share peanuts.
Speaking with South West Voice, Chairman of the break-away carpenter association, Kolawole Olakunle said they went their separate ways because “we were been cheated.”
Olakunle added that after the break-away, they formed another association and was registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission, after which it notified the state government.
He pointed out that their demand for the sharing of the assets and liabilities of the association was turned down by the union leaders.
It was gathered that the break-away carpenter association instructed its members not to pay any fees into the coffers of the parent body after their registration with CAC and the state governor.
This development reportedly irked the parent body which also instructed its officials to stop any carpenter working in any construction site if association fees are not paid.
The matter got to a boiling point last week when some carpenters working at a construction site in Ipinsha area of Akure were assaulted and beaten up for not fulfilling the monetary obligation to the union.
News of the attack filtered to other carpenters and they mobilized en masse to the scene and a bloody clash ensued leaving many wounded.
A member of the parent body Aremu Adedipe said the break-away group are the aggressors.
Adedipe said that the members were asked to stop work at the different sites they were engaged following their failure to pay the compulsory fees into the association coffers.
“Instead of them to explain the situation to our members they mobilised themselves and started beating and dragging our members on the ground.”
However, Olakunle said his members were harassed and beaten up by officials of the other association for failure to pay the fees. “Why should we keep paying fees to them when we have formed our own union,” he asked.
According to him three members were wounded during the fracas while the association vehicle was damaged.
Contacted, the Special Adviser to the governor on Union Matters, Comrade Dayo Fadahunsi confirmed that the new union was dully registered after they broke-away from their parent union.
Fadahunsi, however condemned the bloody clash between the two groups, warning that government would not take kindly any breach of peace in the state.
He appealed to the two groups to continue to maintain peace in the interest of the association and their members.
Similarly, the state Police command image maker, Wole Ogodo when contacted, said the matter is been handled by police, assuring that the internal imbroglio would soon be resolved.