By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
THERE are strong indications that the lingering crisis between the Nigeria Union of Pensioners, NUP, and one of its strongest affiliates, NUP Electricity sector, has deepened as the electricity pensioners have pulled out from NUP to form a new body. Led by the former president of the electricity sector branch of NUP, Chief Temple Ubani, the new body is known as Electricity Sector Retirees Association of Nigeria, ESREAN.
But in a swift reaction, the Caretaker Committee chairman set up by the NUP to run affairs of the branch, Abel Osas Eikhor, has dismissed the new group and its leaders, claiming that Chief Ubani was suspended from the union. He equally called on the police, Department of State Services, DSS, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, among others to investigate Ubani over allegations of corruption and embezzlement of union’s funds.
The caretaker committee also accused Ubani alongside other members of his executive of breaching relevant laws that govern the body. Reacting to the allegations of corruption and embezzlement of funds, Ubani said that the allegations were unfounded and that he did not contravene any known laws as alleged.
Meanwhile, the new group in a communiqué, contended that NUP lacked the power, constitutionally and otherwise to suspend its president and executive officers when the sector though an affiliate of NUP, was an independent union that runs its affairs without the help of NUP Headquarters.
The communique was jointly signed by its president, Chief Ubani, the deputy president, South West, P.I Ogedengbe, South East president, Sir G.E Njoku, South-South, Abibu Otuas, North Central, Isa Olarewaju, North East, M.A Al-Kadriya and North West; M.G Yerima.
According to the communique, the allegation by the NUP headquarters that ESREAN president disobediently relieved the Electricity sector National Secretary, Kayode Ogunbiyi of his post and was personally administering the Sector without a Secretary was totally false.
The communique insisted that the NUP headquarters was duly informed through series of letters, on its intention to advertise in the national dailies the vacancy of its national secretary position. It explained that it was earlier stated that the position of National Secretary would not be attained through election but through formal employment after advertising such and interested persons apply and the best candidate eventually hired.
ESREAN noted that “It was the NUP NHQ representative who conducted our elections at our 2015 NDC (National Delegate Conference) that refused Ogunbiyi and other candidates from contesting the position of national Secretary. They advised that he should be allowed to act in the capacity for three months during which a secretary would be employed through advert/interview from interested applicants. And the position was advertised on the national dailies but that Mr. Olukayode Ogunbiyi, never applied neither did he show interest for the position in any way.”
According to ESREAN, contrary to the statement of NUP that Chief Ubani, his deputies and six others signed off their membership to NUP when they formed a new union, members had already decided to pull-out of the NUP and stay on their own as a result of NUP Headquarters’ persistent refusal to recognise and abide by the Extant Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, of June 2006 between NUP and their Sector.
The communique explained that the decision was reached at the Emergency Special National Delegates Conference of its Sector held at Asaba, Delta State, with over 152 of its national delegates in attendance, who also wrote their names and signed attendance register.
It argued that at its emergency special national delegates conference in Asaba, Delta state, on April 25, 2017, some resolutions were adopted which included the ratification of some recommendations of the National Executive Council, NEC, at its National Secretariatin Lagos on April 12, 2017.
The recommendations included, “That consequent upon the persistent refusal by the Nigeria Union of Pensioners National Headquarters to recognise and abide by the Extant Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) of June 2006 between NUP and their Sector, we have resolved to ‘PULL OUT’ of the relationship with NUP Headquarters.
‘’That our Sector leadership at all levels and organs as presently constituted shall continue to remain in office under the name: Electricity Sector Retirees Association of Nigeria (ESREAN) or any other name to be approved.
“That out Association shall reserve the right to affiliate with any identified friendly organisation with similar interest and objectives for mutual benefits. That the Special National Delegates Conference in Session hereby totally and unequivocally reject the purported suspension of our National Sector President, Chief Temple Ubani and the National Sector Treasurer, Comrade Benjamin M. Amako.
‘’That Mr. Olukayode Ogunbiyi, former National Secretary is hereby expelled from the membership of our union for gross anti-union activities. He is hereby declaimed and all members are advised not to have transactions with him or his agents on behalf of our Association.”
ESREAN challenged the NUP to present documents or any form of evidence to back up all its claims against its leadership.