Factional President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, (NLC), Comrade Joe Ajaero, has accused the Comrade Ayuba Wabba led faction of the congress of clandestine moves within and amongst major trade unions in the country.
In this interview with Meshack Idehen, Bureau Chief, Abuja, Bizwatchnigeria.ng, the labour leader said, Wabba should account for his role in the scam called NLC housing project.
Sir, you have accused the Ayuba Wabba-led NLC faction of so many things, including corruption and destabilizing the affiliates unions. What informed your decision to do this, and can these allegations be justified?
Ayuba Wabba’s plan has always been to create internal schisms with the objective of distracting the unions from focusing on examining his activities since his failed attempt at usurping the leadership of the congress and illegal occupation of the NLCs National Headquarters in Abuja.
Wabba’ sponsorship of illegal groups in many unions with the aim of using them to undermine their leadership rather negates the spirit of the movement, because the labour movement is anchored on the twin principles of solidarity and cohesion.
Even in the worst of times, every true comrade sticks within the confines of ensuring that the basic pillars of the movement are not undermined but strengthened to ensure that even after the present leadership, the trade union movement would continue operation despite stated personal objectives.
Apart from the issues of corruption, you also said your rival cannot see beyond his personal ambitions. What is the reason behind that allegation?
Every Nigerian worker is worried that Wabba has refused to see beyond his personal ambitions, and they also know that this attitude is at the heart of the prolonged crisis within the movement.
It is contradictory to the stated norms of the movement which hinges on the collective rather than this present attempt at fusing his personal interests and pursuits with that of the congress and the trade union movement in general.
Personally and as a labour leader, I believe that our actions should be such that subjects the desires and expectations of individuals to that of the collective, and that is the only way we can avoid pettiness and committing sacrilege.
The extent to which Ayuba Wabba has pursued his interests has dangerously elevated the character and dynamics of engagements within the nation’s industrial relations sphere, and especially within the trade union movement. This will truly not augur well for Nigerian workers and masses that we are pursuing to lead at all cost.
Ayuba Wabba should remember his role in the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association, (NECA’s) affair, and the violence that ensued as a result of this vision less pursuit of leadership at all cost.
Now, the gathering and sponsorship of people in many unions is the latest addition to his continued demonstration of deep lack of tact and strategy in creatively engaging relations within a mass based movement like the trade union movement.
He that lives in a glass house does not throw stones and he is truly not mindful of this wisdom. Nobody has the monopoly of either violence or this aberrant attitude within the family.
How true is the speculation that Ayuba Wabba has refused all attempts at reconciliation and settlement within the NLC family ?
At this point in time in our nation’s and movement’s history, a true labour leader ought to have exercised caution and soberly reflect as we are doing on the best way to resolve the longstanding issues within the family rather than resorting to self-help.
A true leader should be worried about the state of Nigerian workers and deeply concerned about the increasing cries of deprivations and humongous suffering amongst the masses that truly look up to us for leadership out of this present quagmire. Unfortunately, Ayuba Wabba seems not to fall into this category of very concerned and proactive leaders. Instead, his time may have been more vested in pursuing his personal agenda.
Inviting the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) or other security agencies through proxies as a leverage to hunt labour leaders in Nigeria will not work. Pursuing the appropriation of state powers for the purposes of resolving purely industrial relations issues is at best self-defeating, and I can say very destructive.
If what he has to offer the Nigerian State at this time is this distraction of negative deployment of its institutions and apparatuses then, it is unfortunate. What some occupy themselves with sometimes raises an ugly spectre about innate capacities and capabilities, and questions claim to any form of leadership.
As things presently stand, what are your main concerns, and those of the labour movement in Nigeria?
As a movement, we are concerned that rather than seek the clarification of his ignominious and illegal roles in his union – the Medical and Health Workers Union; his seeming dark activities in the Kriston Lally affair in the congress; the labour transport especially the management of the N3b (three Billion Naira) loan for buses from the last administration and eventually the billions left in the congress’ accounts which he craftily took over; he is trying to use magnifying glass to look for skeletons in the cupboards of the leadership of other unions. This is most despicable as it smacks of a man who has graveyard in his backyard but is looking for ordinary skeleton in another man’s cupboard.
So what is the next step for your group in the days going forward?
We want to state that the Laws of Nigeria individually and collectively have stated how union accounts are controlled. Trying to use any unconventional instrument of governance with the boast that their leadership has primordial affinity is rather un-comradely and a testament of deep frustration and cowardice.
Introducing ethnic sentiment into the affairs of the trade unions and the movement in general is the height of sabotage thus the very last straw. A man that invites outsiders into a clearly internal disputes is like a man who gathers maggot infested firewoods, you know exactly what will happen; Lizards will come for a feast.
Going forward, it is important that Ayuba Wabba desist from this trajectory as it represents an ill-wind that will not blow anyone good. He should never dwell under the illusion that he will go unscathed. Any man who insists on pulling down the house on everybody will not escape and any man who foolishly decides to break her mother’s pot will also go hungry.
The course of action he has decided to deploy and the path he has charted will definitely mark him out as a man who played a major role in not only dismantling the pillars of the movement, but in destroying it as a credible and veritable platform for the protection and projection of the interests and desires of Nigerian workers and masses.
Naturally, I had thought that sobriety will be his disposition now given the havoc which his personal agenda has caused for the movement, but history and experience seems to be a waste in his perception or reality.
Instead of joining hands to pull the nation out of the economic morass and salvage the masses from continuous suffering, Wabba has continued on this ill-advised path, which also truncated the wishes of Nigerians during the last oil subsidy debacle.
For us, our hands of comradeship are stretched wide; our doors of fellowship are still open and our hearts and commitment are still very warm towards collectivism built on mutual respect and understanding to move the trade union movement forward. The choice is his whether to take it or ignore it. Either choice comes with consequences. Remember that Nigerian workers and masses are waiting for our leadership. We are willing to provide it whether you join us or not but like they say; we are better and stronger together.