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Proscription Of Nurtw; An Action Taken Too Far

By Kazeem Olalekan Israel

Truth be said, Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State is starting on a wrong note and it is important to pressurise him to tow the line of justice and respect for the rule of law in order for the peace witnessed in the last 8 years to be maintained. Firstly, the Governor must be commended for scrapping the tuition structure of the last administration which has forced many students out of school as a result of the economic hardship being witnessed.

Civilization, no doubt has accorded a fitting recognition to the rights of human persons to education and the good people of Nigeria must not be an exemption and it is important for us to be accorded maximum and undeniable right to education to foster national development as the future of Nigeria cannot be guaranteed if education is not specially made accessible, available and motivating for all persons irrespective of tribe, religion and sex.

It is instructive to note that Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: (1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit. (2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace."

We all know that one of the enduring legacies of Obafemi Awolowo is free and compulsory education which he preach and pursued till his death. But, it is unfortunate to note that Nigerian politicians, majority of whom patrol themselves as Awoists have neglected the education of the youths resulting in high crime rate and redundancy. It cannot be gainsaid that a society which fails to invest heavily on the education of the youths produces uninformed, uncultured and weak leaders at the helm of affairs of the State because they were disconnected from education while at their prime age. It is however time to mount pressure on our 'dealers' to see education as a major investmentby making it to be free and easily accessible to all and sundry as it is only through education that we can shape our destinies and develop our country.

However, having read with close attention the recent action embarked upon by Engr. Seyi Makinde, I am compelled to remind him that his action ultra vires the Constitutional power of his office and he must realise that forming and joining trade union(s) is a Fundamental Right guaranteed by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions, extant labour laws and the Constitution. As a matter of fact, Section 24 of the Trade Unions Act gives Unions automatic recognition once they are registered. Also, the International Labour Organisation Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (No. 87) guarantee this right. The Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention establishes the right of all workers and employers to form and join Organisations of their own choosing without prior authorisation, and lays down a series of guarantees for the free functioning of such Organisations without reference to public authorities. It must however be noted that Nigeria has ratified this Convention and domesticated it in her labour laws as Section 40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), guarantees the right to form and belong to a trade union. This certain Section provides that “Every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular he may form and belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his right”.

The Governor need be told that industrial relations fall under the exclusive legislative list of the Constitution. Therefore, it is only the National Assembly that has power to legislate on trade unions matters for the whole of Nigeria. Registration and withdrawal of Certificate of registration of any Union is exclusively a Federal issue. So, the Governor's pronouncements on the banning of NURTW is null ab initio and of no effect. Though, it cannot be denied that the members of the NURTW over the years have been causing instability, chaos and social unrest in the State and it is reasonable to curtail their activities in ensuring that the peace of the State is sustained, but, curtailing their activities should not be by trampling on their rights.

Engr. Seyi Makinde must as a matter of necessity realise that his recent action as regards the happenings in the National Union of Road Transport Workers can in no time plunge the State into another crisis and cost us the peace that is being enjoyed. The employment of carrot and stick strategy in the exercise of power by the Governor of the pacesetter State must be protested by all persons irrespective of party affiliation/interest as the theatrics of power unfolding in Oyo State mirrors a dangerous escalation of a 'familiar' trend.

Kazeem Olalekan Israel (GANI) writes from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife.

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Kazeem Olalekan Israel and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."