By Victor Ahiuma-Young
THE just concluded National Delegates Conference, NDC, of the National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions, NUBIFIE, in Lagos, provided members the opportunity to examine the leadership instability that has plagued it and find a way forward. It was generally agreed by most speakers at the opening ceremony of the conference that NUBIFIE needed stability to remain relevant and serve its members better.
Setting the stage, the President of the Union, Danjuma Musa, who was returned president by the delegates, lamented that the 2011 NDC in Kaduna was supposed to have ushered in the much expected stability to NUBIFIE, but contrary to overwhelming expectations of members, the gale of instability set in very early in the life of that administration as a result of certain factors that were less than altruistic.
According to him: “We recall the background leading to Kaduna National Delegates Conference was replete with internal feuding across leadership hierarchy of our great union, severely undermining its integrity and capacity to fulfill its obligations to members, whilst the general apathy and wanting confidence of membership, which the Kaduna Conference was expected to address having been elected into office.
“However, in less than one term-tenure of the Kaduna Conference, the Union has had the misfortune of throwing up three National Presidents, four General Secretaries, three National Treasurers, among other several changes in other leadership positions. In less than four years, the turnover in leadership positions were simply mind boggling and it was not only great source of concern for loyal and patriotic members but worrying situation to other stakeholders, in particular, the Organized Labour movement and our allies in civil society coalition groups.”
Reasons for instability: For Musa, “Factors responsible for the “banana peel” situation are multi dimensional ranging from institutional weaknesses (constitutional defects), receding ideological consciousness among members (that is, a departure from reason for being a unionist), and general attitude to service (elevation of self against collectives), as well as absence of internal democracy and robust social partners in form of Employers Association which could have served as restraining buffer against arbitrary tendencies of members in relation to leadership sustainability. Notwithstanding the above highlighted factors, the crises faced by our great Union in recent times was not only contrived but crass attempts at self perpetuation by group of former leaders of the Union who have either been promoted to senior cadre at their work place, retired or laid off, yet couldn’t come to terms with their new realities as they seek to impose themselves perpetually on the Union.
“The unwholesome activities of these former members greatly undermined the solidarity of the Union and brought disrepute to the integrity of our great Union. They engaged in all kinds of subterfuge and brigandage against the Union and having failed woefully to achieve their self serving agenda through this means, decided to take a saner and civilized step by approaching the courts for judicial intervention on their articulated grievances.
Also speaking, Joe Ajaero, President of United Labour Congress of Nigeria, ULC, while collaborating the need to ensure stability in NUBIFIE among others, said: “Today, NUBIFIE has taken that giant step to stand on a moral high ground. You have chosen after many years to shine the light for other unions to follow. You have therefore decided to become one of the few beacons of hope upon which a resurgence trade union movement that honours its traditions, principles and statutes will be built. That you are all peacefully gathered here to chart a better trajectory upon which your great union’s future will be built is truly a watershed. Only those that understand your chequered history will appreciate today’s momentous occasion.
“I want to tell you that from this vantage point up here, I am offered the opportunity of looking deeper into all of your eyes and what I see are shining eyes and smiling faces filled I know with great expectations. I am truly encouraged by this outpouring of camaraderie and effusive brotherliness. These expectations are eventually going to be determined by the choices you make here today – either to make NUBIFIE a united progressive union that will ultimately give you victory over your travails or to retard its progress.”