NLC elections disrupted on allegation of manipulation
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) delegates conference which is holding in Abuja was disrupted on Friday by violence, as some aggrieved delegates made to stop the election meant to elect new officers to replace the outgoing president, Abdulwahed Omar, and other officers of the labour centre.
The delegates threw the proceedings that had commenced smoothly into chaos, smashing ballot boxes and throwing out ballot papers.
According to reports, the situation forced the suspension of the elections at the 11th National Delegates' Conference, which began at the International Conference Centre in Abuja on Monday.
Three persons were gunning for the post of the NLC president, namely General Secretary of the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), Joe Ajaero; President of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Igwe Achese; and the Chairman of Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN), Wabba Ayuba.
Omar is allegedly backing Ayuba.
Reports indicate that trouble started during voting when some delegates allegedly from NUEE, backed by some of their counterparts from NUPENG, accused some delegates of receiving more than one ballot paper.
The aggrieved delegates insisted that this was being done to favour Wabba.
They took to smashing the ballot boxes and throwing out the ballot papers to disrupt when their complIns were not attended to.
In report by This Day stated that following the melee that ensued, the elections could not be concluded.
The newspaer added that that Achese had stepped down for Ajaero at the last minute before voting commenced at 9 pm Wednesday night.
THe newspaer also learnt that in a move to bolster the chances of Ajaero, Achese had reportedly mobilised and instructed his delegates to cast their votes for the NUEE general secretary.
The NLC, following the disruption of the elections, convened a meeting of its National Administrative Council (NAC) yesterday afternoon. The meeting was ongoing as at press time.
The congress was also expected to summon a meeting of its National Executive Committee (NEC) on the incident.
Omar's tenure expires on March 3.
Ajaero told newsmen Friday that delegates from the NUEE had informed him that some of the ballot booklets had Wabba's name listed three times or more on them.
“It meant that one person was voting three times; another person also reported the same scenario not only for Ayuba Wabba alone, as there were some for Isok and there were some for Peter Adeyemi.
“But in most cases, when you saw the booklets for Joseph Ajaero, they did not have a serial number; some other booklets did not even have Joseph Ajaero printed on them, which meant the person given that booklet will not vote Joseph Ajaero, assuming he wanted to vote for me,” he explained.
Ajaero said it was difficult to believe that such manipulation could have happened in the labour movement, adding that it was to the glory of God that the process was truncated, because the delegates would have been dissatisfied with the results.
Ajaero declined to accuse the electoral committee of bias, but noted that they were in the better position to explain what went wrong.
Achese, also speaking in a separate interview, threatened to go to court to ensure that Omar does not stay beyond the conference, which was disrupted abruptly on Thursday.
He added that the current executives had violated the constitution of the NLC by not dissolving the executive council led by Omar.
He alleged that they took the decision since they had fore-knowledge of the planned manipulation of the elections.
“They knew that the elections would be inconclusive and that is why they rejected a motion for the executive to be dissolved, which would have signalled the commencement of election of new executives.
“They argued that the issue of dissolution is not in the constitution of the congress, but I know for sure that it is captured in the constitution,” he insisted.
Wabba, in his reaction, disclosed that he was not in the premises when the fracas happened, but from reports, he heard that 23 unions had already voted.
“Basically, if somebody thinks he will not make it, he will destroy the process. If you look at what transpired in the past two or three days preceding the elections, you could see that these people were working towards disrupting the process.
“Election was going smoothly, all grievances were addressed, and suddenly from nowhere they disrupted the process, realising that they would not be able to make it,” he said.
He expressed confidence in the ability of the electoral committee led by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) President, Dr. Nasir Fagge.
Wabba added that NUPENG and NUEE were represented on the credentials committee that screened the candidates while his own union was not represented.
“My union is the only union that was not a member and we did not raise any complaint. If there is anything that led to the disruption, I think that those unions should be held responsible,” he said.
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