FOR the first time in history, the
National Delegates Conference
(NDC) of NLC crashed on Thursday February 9 during voting to elect a new set of leaders to run the affairs of the congress for the next four years.
This was as a result of alleged multiple voting, multiple ballot papers with some candidates names appearing two or three times while some candidates’ names did not appear in some of the ballot papers.FOR the first time in history, the National Delegates Conference (NDC) of NLC crashed on Thursday February 9 during voting to elect a new set of leaders to run the affairs of the congress for the next four years.
This was as a result of alleged multiple voting, multiple ballot papers with some candidates names appearing two or three times while some candidates names did not appear in some of the ballot papers.
It was anything but a “big shame” as the first General Secretary of the NLC, Aliyu Dangiwa described it.
Dangiwa in his assessment of the botched conference, told newsmen:
“It’s a big shame… Moreover, on the part of workers, we have to be more articulate and objective. Apparently, we must look at ourselves. There are people working against us, people working for our adversaries in our midst. Whoever is responsible for this should be traced by Nigerian workers for appropriate action.
“The issue of the bloated number of delegates was the first signal that the conference was a time-bomb waiting to explode.
The number of delegates from two unions – Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (527), and the National Union of Electricity Employees (471), were unprecedented. Both unions attributed this to increased membership and increase in wages.
Yet, the (NLC) constitution has provision preventing bulk payment for the purpose of allocation of delegates for the election. However, NLC’s secretariat accepted their explanation and so it became a reality.”
Comrade Adams Oshiomhole blamed the leadership of NLC for the botched conference.
He said that what happened was not an attempt by anybody to manipulate the election but error caused as a result of the last minutes decision to re-open nomination and accommodate hitherto disqualified candidates.
He said the development did not erode the integrity of the labour movement in participatory democracy.
Hassan Sumonu, one of the NLC’S past leaders said they were embarrassed over what happened.
A labour activist, Comrade Idowu Akinwale in his reaction said: “The vibrancy and revolutionary fervour that hallmarked NLC under Oshiomhole’s leadership could not be sustained by Washeed Omar, whose leadership has been described as clueless and ideologically undefined”.
“Oshiomhole always knew where he was going and he pursued his vision and mission with a crusading fury and a deep sense of responsibility. He fought the dreaded military and was at the forefront of the forces that brought back democracy to Nigeria after many years of repressive dictates of military irrationality. And after 8 years he successfully organized a transition and handed over after a credible election”.
The worst thing that happened at the conference was failure to dissolve the National Administration Council, NAC before a fresh election.
This point of order was raised by Ismaila Bello of the National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring workers, NURGTINN but an NLC. Deputy General Secretary, Emma Ugboaja, who was a General Secretary of an affiliate of the NLC, said “it is not in our constitution.” To put it mildly, many delegates knew nothing could be farther from the truth because it is the norm. In the interest of peace, delegates accepted.
Consequently, voting for a new President and other officers was on while the incumbent president was still in office.
The question is, had the election succeeded, would there have been two Presidents of the NLC at the same time?
Some delegates brought up the issue of NLC/Kriston-Lally failed housing project that did not produce houses for workers and in some cases refunded devalued money to depositors.
The real disclosure came from Achese, who confirmed that “yes, N2.5 billion is safe” as disclosed by the Treasurer, Ayuba Wabba, but Achese insisted not all the money was safe.
The question is where is the financial report? Out of 3,119 delegates at the conference, not more than 50 saw the report, yet, some moved for the adoption of a report that was not seen. Omar called for a vote by standing up, and without counting, he declared the report accepted. This to some delegates confirmed that the ex-executive had something to cover.
It is a big shame that NLC which is in the vanguard of campaign for free, fair and credible elections could not manage its own micro-election that took place in just one centre. For the first time in history of the NLC for 37 years of its existence, the union failed to produce a new leadership to run the affairs for the next 4 years.
Prior to the NLC delegate Conference, the union was said to have been engulfed in crisis such as workers who belong to the 43 affiliate unions of the congress already had axes to grind with the apex labour union over some vexed issues, one of which is the failed NLC housing scheme. The NLC had said to have entered into partnership with a private developer, Kriton-Lally Nigeria Limited to provide 300,000 affordable homes for the subscribing workers.
In the failed election, the NLC National Executive Council was accused of violating the existing constitution by failure to dissolve the executive council led by Omar before the commencement of the voting. At the end, the election turned out to be a free for all as delegates upturned and smashed ballot boxes over allegations of irregularities noticed in the balloting system allegedly designed to favour a particular candidate.
From the reaction of NLC to the postponement of the general elections by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which it described as bogus we can only conclude that the NLC botched election is indeed a national shame a former labour activist noted.
It is very unfortunate that the same NLC flouted its own electoral rules, thus bringing to an abrupt end the voting process. The show of shame at the venue was the first in the history of the workers’ union and this can be seen as a failure of leadership to consolidate on the gains of the past years. It is even more shameful when one considers the fact that the rowdy election was witnessed by international allies of the NLC who were invited for the conference. So NLC has succeeded in dealing a deadly blow not only to its image but that of the country as a whole because being the largest labour union in Africa it is believed that all eyes are on Nigeria now concerning the NLC and INEC elections
“Labour’s voice which is supposed to be demanding for free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria cannot be respected if it allows intrigues, rigging and violence to characterize its own elections. NLC ought to have demonstrated transparency and good governance in the conduct of its affairs at all times, a veteran labour activist observed.
Reacting to the failed NLC election, Human Rights Lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) expressed concern over the NLC crisis that marred the 11th NDC to elect new set of officers. The National Publicity Secretary of LP. Ebere Ifendu also expressed dismay over the inability and failure of Omar Abdulwaheed and Peter Ezeozor to conduct a peaceful delegates’ conference. It is a bad omen especially as the incident came as a time the country is about to go for national elections. The NLC should be an exemplary organization that would champion good and defend democratic process in the country.
The immediate past vice-president of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Issa Aremu, has attributed the failure of the union to elect a new set of leadership at its national congress to the failure of the electoral committee to follow due process rather than any interference from the nation’s political space as being alleged in some quarters.

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