’Labour won’t accept retrenchment over new minimum wage’

Comrade Ayuba Wabba

Comrade Ayuba Wabba

Last week’s election of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) during its 12th Quadrennial Delegates Conference would go into the annals of the congress as the best organised since its constitution in 1978.


Workers could still recall the ugly incident that characterised the same election four years ago at the labour house.

 Comrade Ayuba Wabba
Comrade Ayuba Wabba


One lesson from the 12th National Delegates’ Conference is the smooth process and the fact that it was rancour-free unlike what happened in 2015.


The crisis that characterised the 2015 delegates’ conference ended in creating factions in the congress. It forced two unions, National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) and the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas of Nigeria (NUPENG), out of the NLC to form the United Labour Congress (ULC).


The re-election of Comrade Ayuba Wabba amid fanfare has renewed the hope of workers.


Wabba was also recently elected as the President of the World’s International Trade Union Congress (ITUC). He will lead the 16-member National Administrative Council (NAC) in the next four years.


Others elected NAC members included three Deputy Presidents. They were Amaechi Asugwuni, Muhammad Nadir Idris and Najim Usman Yasin. Ibrahim Khaleel was elected National Treasurer.

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Four officials were elected Vice Presidents. They were Abdrafiu Adeniji, Peters Adeyemi, Lawrence Amaechi and Oyelakan Lateef.


Others were Marwan Adamu, the National Financial Secretary and Adewale Adeyanju, National Trustee. Comrade Wabba.


In all, 15 officials were returned unopposed.
The conference with the theme:”Towards a decade of activism for the promotion of labour unity; national rebirth and development.”


In his acceptance sppech, Wabba vowed to confront the challenges faced by the workers. He said: “We will ensure that the challenges workers face are confronted headlong. Workers are treated as slaves while those that don’t even work hard take higher pay.”


He said the new leadership must build workers power to change the equation and confront the political power to ensure that workers live decent lives.


On the new minimum wage, he pointed out that the organised Labour would not allow governments at any level or private employers to hide under the increment to sack.


The NLC President insisted that the struggle would be to ensure the implementation of the new minimum wage by federal and state governments.

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He, therefore, charged all the affiliates and the state councils as well as the partners to be ready for the battle ahead for the implementation of the minimum wage without retrenchment.


As a leader, he pointed out that his executive would not take unilateral decisions on issues affecting the workers, but assured that the Labour movement would continue to take instructions from the rank and files.
He said his leadership would always speak the truth to the government to protect the interests of the working class.


“The new leadership of NLC will respect the will of members and consolidate on what we are doing. We will continue to conform to the tradition of the union and speak the truth to those in power. The daily challenges of workers at work places will be confronted. We have been able to work assiduously in the past four years and we will move forward to build workers poser. I assure our members of our commitment and dedication to the resolutions of the conference.”

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NLC’s General Secretary Comrade Peter Ozo-Eson said the congress had learnt from its past mistakes.


Asked why all the positions were unopposed and if it was a predetermined arrangement to forestall a repeat of the 2015 crisis, Ozo-Eson said there was no election because there were no constestable positions.


He said since there were no positions, the candidates were presented by the Credentials Committee at the conference by acclamation; through a motion moved because “there are no positions that is contested”.


“Every organisation learns from its own mistakes. What happened in the last one, perhaps, influences how people took their positions, but that is a process of politicking and a process of preference.


“For us, ours is to take what we see in nominations and we processed them forward. We have received the nominations, and as we published it, it is one slate. So, that is what we have seen this time. It is being done before, it has happened before, so it won’t be the first time,” he added.