More facts have emerged as to why 23 aggrieved unions rejected the outcome of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC election on Saturday, which produced a former national President of Medical and Health Workers Union, Ayuba Wabba, as new helmsman of the NLC, insisting they are planning for a special delegates conference this Saturday to reflect the true wishes of the Nigerian workers.
In a joint statement by Joe Ajaero, who lost the contest to Wabba, Achese Igwe and Issa Aremu, who both contested for Deputy President of NLC, on behalf of the 23 aggrieved unions, they dissociated themselves from the March 12 election, arguing that like the botched election of February, the election was also fundamentally flawed both in the process and outcome.
The statement signed by Ajaero, who is also the General Secretary of the National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, Igwe, the President of Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG and Aremu, the General Secretary of National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria, NUTGTWN, said “like the previous failed election, there was an unacceptable disregard for rules and regulations in the latest election.
“Rules were changed midway into the elections. The credential committee wrongly validated the Ballot papers found in boxes not meant for the position being contested for contrary to the rules. These ballot papers ought to have been invalidated. There was a scandalous deficit of basic electoral materials such as tallies. As a result, counting of votes was stopped for 3 hours to allegedly enable the General Secretary of NLC and his team to go to the market to buy some electoral materials. In the process there was a crisis of confidence and legitimate suspicion of manipulation.
“It took two working days for an election fixed for only one day to count the votes of 3,119 delegates from the 43 industrial unions affiliated to the Congress. Due to poor electoral arrangement, sorting of ballot papers turned to be cumbersome and opened to manipulations and distortions with non-members of the Credential Committee dictating the patterns of counting. For instance, there was an unacceptable direct involvement of former NLC President, Abdulwaheed Omar in the election process particularly in the sorting and counting of votes well after the dissolution of the former National Administrative Council (NAC) he headed against the best practices of the past. The Former President also ordered the delay of counting of votes for over 12 hours after the ballot papers were sorted out in order to manipulate the process to suit his candidates”.
The statement added that “Indeed, the polling agent to Joe Ajaero, Benson Okorodudu protested to no avail, the long delay in the counting of ballot papers after sorting. When counting eventually took place, there was an intermittent light outage during which the polling agent to Comrade Joe Ajaero inexplicably fainted and rushed to the hospital apparently was paving the way for manipulation. Also former General Secretary of NLC, John Odah was directly involved in the conduct of the election even after he had expressed partisan position during the botched election. This is clearly unacceptable.
“We recall that earlier there was a crisis of confidence following the alleged marginalization of delegates from some parts of the country notably South West, South South and South East by Medical and Health Workers Union and Nigeria Civil Service Union. In terms of female participation, some of the industrial unions failed to comply with the Congress affirmative policy according to which 30 per cent of the delegates from the industrial unions should be women.
“The entire process was not transparent and clearly designed to favour some particular candidates. As a result, some of the polling agents refused to sign the manipulated result sheets thus rendering them invalid”.