NUPENG President steps down for Ajaero
By Funmi Komolafe & Victor Ahiuma-Young
ABUJA—When the president of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, Igwe Achese rose to speak, delegates had no idea that his speech would alter the political calculations at the conference.
Achese referred to a 2011 caucus agreement where it was suggested that the private sector should go for the presidency of the NLC after the tenure of Abdulwaheed Omar who is a product of a public sector union; the Nigeria Union of Teachers.
He recalled the role of NUPENG in the June 12, 1993 struggle and that the union would continue to play active roles in the Nigeria Labour Congress when called upon.
In his words: “I am stepping down from contesting the presidency for Joe Ajaero.”
He barely finished the sentence when the hall erupted with solidarity songs and jubilation mainly from private sector workers.
With his withdrawal, it became unpredictable who would emerge President of the NLC between Joe Ajaero, General Secretary of the National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, and the president of the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria, Wabba Ayuba.
It is remarkable that Ajaero like Oshiomhole is from the private sector and also a career trade unionist like Oshiomhole.
Candidates elected unopposed
Those elected unopposed are the National Treasurer, Kahleel Ibrahim of the National Union of Local Government Employees, NULGE, and the Financial Secretary, Safiyanu Mohammed of the National Union of Air Transport Employees, NUATE.
Textile Union withdraws from race
Following the disagreement on the re-opening of nominations to contest for offices, the National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers, NUTGWU, announced its withdrawal from the race of the deputy president of the NLC.
The union’s General Secretary, Issa Aremu who made the announcement to the Congress in Session said: “It is not because we are afraid of elections at all.
“When we applied for the post of the deputy president, we were aware there would be a contest”, emphasizing that the union merely insisted on the rules.
He said, “Workers cannot ignore the rules, we are saying our rules must be obeyed, we must respect our rules”.
Recall that Congress was Tuesday thrown into turmoil following the re-opening of nomination for candidates to contest for offices after their disqualification by the Credentials Committee of the NLC saddled with the screening of candidates.
This development confirmed Vanguard’s exclusive report on Monday of plots to alter or reopen the nomination of candidates after the list of dully cleared candidates was published since January 6, 2015
It was the first time in the 37 year history of the NLC that the Delegates Conference in Session would decide who contests for an office after the credentials committee had concluded its assignment.
The intervention of pioneer officers of the Congress failed to provide an amicable settlement.
This development could create a constitutional crisis which according to informed sources was blamed on the leadership failure of the NLC.
As at yesterday evening, it was not clear if the NUTGTWN, deemed to have been elected unopposed but might now face an election would pull out of the conference or the NLC.
It was also not clear if aggrieved parties would go to court for the interpretation of the NLC constitution before today’s election.
With this new position of the conference in session, it means the NLC secretariat would have to produce new ballot papers to accommodate the two new candidates from NURW and MWUN before today’s election.
A total of 3019 delegates is expected to vote during the election.
The issue raised on the floor of the house was whether or not the Conference in Session should accept fully the report of the credentials committee which disqualified the nomination of the representative of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, on the basis of failure to fill the nomination form appropriately.
Also disqualified by the credential committee was the nomination of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria which failed to attach to the nomination form the passport and CV of its nominee despite the nominee being a current member of the National Administrative Council NAC. As current member of NAC, the secretariat is in possession of his credentials.