Stories by Victor Ahiuma-Young
ONE of the high points of the just-concluded 11th Triennial National Delegates’ Conference, NDC, of the Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions, ASSBIFI, was the public confirmation of the leadership crisis rocking the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC.
Until ASSBIFI’s NDC, it was as if all was well with the second Labour Centre in the country, the TUC.
But in her valedictory speech, President of ASSBIFI, Oyinkan Olasanoye, told delegates and other guests including the representative of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, that “we want to clearly state that ASSBIFI did not factionalize the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria and will not violate laiddown rules and regulations binding members of the Congress. But it should be known and clearly too, that ASSBIFI will not by any stretch of imagination submit to injustice or subjugation of any form or shape. As we defend workers’ rights and privileges so also we are open to relationships but based on justice, equity, good conscience and integrity. “We, ASSBIFI and the “Concerned Affiliates” went to court against TUC after due consultations, to correct the re-occurring acts of injustice and unfair treatment meted out on ASSBIFI and the “Concerned Affiliates.” Our position is simple, that all affiliates of TUC should be treated fairly and our words should be our bond.
“We did not fight TUC; we fought the greed and dishonesty in the system. ASSBIFI is a founding member of TUC. Even when you deny one his or her rightful inheritance, you cannot deny the ancestry. After the rain comes shine. Justice, equity, fairness and integrity is what we demand of TUC.”
Hardly has she ended her speech than the presence of some officials of TUC led by the “Secretary General”, Salisu Nuhu Mohammad, was announced.
Olasanoye quickly picked the microphone and explained that the officials of TUC came uninvited and on their personal capabilities.
She went on to inform the gathering that “ASSBIFI as a workers’ body, welcomes every worker to its gatherings, as such, they (TUC officials) are welcome as friends of ASSBIFI.”
Recall that the National Industrial Court, NIC, sitting in Lagos, and presided over by Justice Rabiu Gwandu, had on July 6, 2022, stopped the TUC from holding or taking further steps to hold and conduct elections for the position of president and other national positions pending the hearing and determination of the suit filed by 10 aggrieved affiliates.
The aggrieved unions had gone to court following moves by TUC’s leadership to throw open for contest the position of president ahead of its 12th NDC, slated for between Tuesday, July 19 and Wednesday, July 20, 2022, contrary to the resolution of its 11th NDC held on June 28, 2019, at NAF Centre, Abuja.
Not comfortable with the development, the 10 aggrieved affiliates approached the NIC to determine the legality of TUC moves to jettison the resolution of the 2019 NDC, part of which has been implemented.
They also, among others, prayed the court to stop TUC “from publishing for election the position of the President of TUC for the year 2022 to 2025”; and any other orders that the court “may deem fit to make in the circumstance of this suit.”
The affiliates are Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions, ASSBIFI, Pulp Paper and Paper Products Printing and Publishing Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PPAPPPAPSSAN, Nigeria Merchant Navy Officers and Water Transport Senior Staff Association, NMNO/WTSSA, Senior Staff Association of Shipping Clearing and Forwarding Agencies, SSASCFA, Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, ATTSSSAN, Precision, Electrical and Related Equipment Senior Staff Association, PERESSA, Shop and Distributive Trade Senior Staff Association, SHOPDIS, Textile Garment and Tailoring Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, TGTSSAN, Senior Staff Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutes and Associated Institutions, SSAUTHRIAI, and Automobile, Boatyard, Transport, Equipment and Allied Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, AUTOBATE.
Ruling on the ex-parte motion, Justice Gwandu restrained TUC from going ahead with the NDC slated for between Tuesday, July 19 and Wednesday 20, until the determination of the substantive suit.
Defying court order
Despite the order, leaders of TUC went ahead to conduct the delegates’ conference in defiance of the court order, and elected officials into various positions including the president, claiming another court sitting in Abuja had given it nod to hold the conference.
However, the presiding judge in the Lagos suit, which has not vacated her order, after hearing of the substantive suit, is expected to deliver her ruling any moment.