Comrades Ajaero, Aremu and their ‘NLC’

Comrades Ajaero, Aremu and their ‘NLC’
December 30 11:23 2015

By Onah Iduh

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has, since its 11th National Delegates Conference of February 8-11, 2015, been the cynosure of national and global labour communities. The conference was dominated by fractious contestations from the onset but with sober moderation by veterans and key stakeholders in the labour movement, the NLC was eventually guided into electing its national officers after the unfortunate incident on the night of February 12, 2015.

The elections, reported to have started on a peaceful note, was violently truncated when delegates rooting for Comrade Joe Ajaero, the General Secretary of the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) and one of the two candidates who contested for the position of NLC President, destroyed ballot boxes when they allegedly discovered some ballot booklets contained more than one ballot paper for Comrade Ayuba Wabba, the President of Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN), the other candidate who in the end won the election.

Beyond the politics surrounding the violent conduct of delegates are, however, the self deprecating and cynical mischief by Comrade Issa Aremu before, during and after the delegates’ conference. He elevated his cynicism to an unholy propaganda after the rescheduled NLC election on March 12, 2015, when his Restoration Group was defeated. A few instances of Comrade Aremu’s mischievously vainglorious misinformation will suffice.

Since he declared his ambition to be Deputy President of NLC, Comrade Aremu had unethically deplored the privilege he enjoyed as a columnist with the Daily Trust and to vent his anger on anyone he imagined stood on his way to be the Deputy President of NLC.

Whether the Daily Trust no longer has the structure in place to check such dubious excesses or abuse of privilege, as I know it used to, I do not know, but if it does, then Aremu had twice successfully duped the gatekeeper as he has consecutively published two documents of his rebellious “NLC” in his column with little or no editing and without acknowledging them.

On Monday, March 16, 2015, under the title: “Twice Jinxed? NLC’s 11th Delegates’ Conference,” Aremu published in his Daily Trust and Newsdiaryonline columns the renunciation press statement he co-signed with Ajaero and Achese on the outcome of the rescheduled NLC elections by claiming being the sole author.

Aremu again plagiarised the contents of a press briefing of his group on a so-called delegates’ conference, under the title: “Beyond the NLC Elections” in both Trust and Newsdiary of Monday, March 23, 2015 by merely editing out the subheadings and deleting the names of the nine unions that were signatories to the statement. Apart from that, Aremu had the statement posted on the website of his union, National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN), where he was the sole signatory.

Comrade Issa Aremu

Comrade Issa Aremu

The two statements, even as used by Aremu, struggled, albeit unsuccessfully, to cast aspersion on NLC’s electoral process in which both Ajaero and Aremu did everything to undermine but ultimately failed and were defeated. Aremu and his comrade rebels had to take the story to town by blaming and libelling everyone but themselves; including the veterans who, in their efforts to redeem the image of the NLC, sacrificed their time, energy and resources to ensure a process that was above board in the face of daunting administrative and personnel challenges faced by the secretariat of the NLC.

Besides the ethical concerns in the holistic lifting of press statements and using them as his articles without acknowledgement, also lies the moral force behind the issues raised by Aremu right from when he started writing about the conference on Monday, February 9, 2015. In the article entitled; “NLC’s 11th delegates’ conference,” published in his column by Daily Trust as well as Newsdiaryonline, Aremu’s nuanced and incoherent narrative would undoubtedly steer suspicion in the mind of anyone with a modicum of trade union experience of the degree of desperation with which he minded and drove his ambition.

Against the backdrop of what Aremu said in the column, when the re-opening of discussion with regard to the nomination of a contending candidate for the position of Deputy President was endorsed by Congress-in-Session, Aremu led his union to a walkout on the ground that the acceptance of the nomination was in violation of the constitution of Congress. What he did not say, however, is that, the decision effectively sealed his ambition with the emergence of a fourth candidate that threw open the contest which Aremu stood no chance winning.

As an experienced trade unionist; and one whom I believe knows the powers of the Congress-in-Session, I want to believe that Aremu was being absolutely disingenuous when he failed to articulate the mix-up that in the first place was behind the omission of the candidate of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) for the position of Deputy President. From my findings, I belief that Aremu is also aware that it was in recognition of the powers of the Delegates Conference (Congress-in-Session) that the NEC of NLC referred the matter to it for a final decision. It is therefore entirely deceitful of Aremu to orchestrate the falsehood he has being peddling since his botched walkout upon the endorsement of NURTW’s nomination.

In all the tales Aremu and Ajaero have been telling, they showed no moral responsibility to state that in the reconstituted Credentials Committee, their group had three representatives, namely, the President of NUEE, Ajaero’s union, the Secretary General of Railway Union and the Deputy President of NUPENG. This situation ought to make it impossible for rigging as opposed to their claim that the committee compromised the process when Ajaero’s agent allegedly fainted.

The question is, if his agent indeed fainted, did the three representatives of his group in the Credentials Committee, also fainted? Or were they compromised? Or were every member of the committee, including ASUU President, Dr. Nasir Fagge and Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, who were chairperson and secretary of the committee, respectively, compromised, for the rigging scenario painted by Ajaero and Aremu to have been possible? There are a host of other questions which I think should naturally follow the noise flowing from both Ajaero and Aremu, if time and space permit.

Having worked in the NLC as Acting Head of Information for a couple of years by virtue of which I was a member of the relevant organs of Congress – National Administrative Council (NAC), Central Working Committee (CWC) and National Executive Council (NEC) – I have modest knowledge of the intensity of politicking especially in the run up to a delegates conference. To the best of my knowledge, Ajaero and Aremu have been key actors in that type of politicking and are crying foul only because they have been outwitted. What I can only say is that they have rather been caught up in a classic case of nemesis. Tragically for them, by their responses to their defeat, Ajaero and Aremu have put themselves in an ideologically perilous position in their rambling propaganda suffused with deceit and falsehood.

As noisily as they may be shouting about what transpired in the course of the Conference, including the rescheduled one, Nigerians and particularly workers, veterans and trade unionists, are not deceived by Ajaero and Aremu’s cock and bull stories. This is because of the many obvious gaps in their narrative that will compel a discerning mind to conclude that the only condition that will make Ajaero and Aremu to accept the result of the election is if they are declared winners. Either by hook or by crook; they have formed a “new NLC” in which they have shared among themselves positions they were unable to legally obtain.

Iduh was NLC’s Acting Head of Information between 2009 and 2011.