…backs by NLC
Bimbola Oyesola, Benjamin Babine, Abuja
The leadership of the National Union of Foods, Beverages and Tobacco Employees (NUFBTE) have denied allegation that the union is in any crisis as being alleged by some former members of the union.
The union reacting to what it described as a lie by the embattled members who have been suspended due to anti union activities said the clarification becomes necessary to put issues in proper perspective.
The acting General Secretary of the union, Mike Olanrewaju said the special Delegate Conference which gave the incumbent President, Lateef Oyelekan two years extension was constitutional and was held under the supervision of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), President, Ayuba Wabba.
According to him, the union at no time were ever factionalised on the issue of the extension as all the aggrieved members now were in the National Executive Meeting (NEC) in Abuja and Lagos where the decision was unanimously made.
On the court injunction as alleged by the leadership of the aggrieved members, who equally was the former Signing Trustee of the union, Peter Onoja, the union expressed that there was no time that the union was served.
He said: “Our union is not in crisis. Our union is guided by our constitution and we have been following the dictate of that constitution meticulously without division.
“Our president is at the end of his third tenure which will expire in December this year. When he was elected, our union was nowhere, no progress, but with commitment and dedication, he made sure he diversified our union in terms of investments. Established so many investments like hotels and water factories.
”It was when our members saw that the leadership have over N200 million in savings that they decided to give the extension for the present NAC to build another four storeys hotel for us in Ibadan, which is now almost on the second floor. It was done to secure the funds and this is what these people are kicking against.”
On the issue of tenure elongation, he said: “Yes, it is not clearly stated in our constitution then that there can be extension like that, fine, but there is no constitution in the world that is completely perfect. That is why, when there was a situation and exigences, like it happened in Nigeria during President Yar’ Adua crisis, the doctrine of necessity was evoked. But now we’ve been able to review the constitution to two terms of 4 years each to avoid crisis in the future.”
He stated that the tenure extension passed through “due process” saying it passed through the National Executive Council, National Administrative Council and the emergency delegates conference.
Meanwhile, the aggrieved members, led by Peter Onoja at a press conference in Abuja yesterday morning said the leadership of the union was restrained by a court injunction from extending the tenure of the president and his executive members.
Onaja, said as a result, his team has decided to form a faction, which he has now emerged as the President.
“Now we have two factions in the house, I am the President of one of the factions. I am the former National Signing Trustee of the union. Our President has served four years as deputy president, 12 years as president, making a total of 16 years.”
He noted that the union’s constitution has no tenure limit, but said that the constitution emphasised that there must be elections every four years to choose leadership.
“Our constitution has no tenure limit, you can contest as many times, but the constitution makes it clear that every four years, you must have elections. This year is our conference year and the president wanted to do an emergency delegates conference and the subject matter is only one agenda, tenure elongation. That he wants to elongate his tenure for two years.
“So, some of us feel bad that if the constitution says every four years you must hold election, even if you want to contest, hold election, if you win everybody will support you legitimately. But he refused; so we approached the National Industrial Court and on 19 August the National Industrial Court give interlocutory injunction that no emergency conference should hold until the determination of the case,” Onaja said.