Crisis rocks TUC, affiliates kick as Osifo elected as new president

The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), one of the two labour centres in the country, is slipping into a crisis, as some affiliate unions have kicked against the ‘election’ of Festus Osifo as the new president of the congress.

This is coming after the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the other labour centre, only recently emerged from more than three years of crisis which saw some of its affiliates pulling out to operate as United Labour Congress (ULC) following an unresolved election crisis.

Osifo, who doubles as the president of Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), was said to have secured 688 votes to ‘defeat’ his opponent, Oyikan Olasanoye, president of the Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions (ASSBIFI), said to have garnered 18 votes, while 22 votes were said to have been declared invalid from a total of 728 votes allegedly cast.

However, a source close to ASSBIFI told BusinessDay that the 18 votes purportedly scored by Olasanoye were a “creation” of those who disobeyed a subsisting order by Justice R.H Gwandu of the National Industrial Court (NIC), restraining the TUC from holding its 12th triennial national delegates pending a hearing and resolution of a case filed before the court by ASSBIFI and nine other affiliates.

ASSBIFI and the nine affiliates had approached the court through their lawyer, Timothy Adewale, to stop the conference over the failure of the TUC leadership to implement an agreement entered into in their last conference which ceded the president of the congress to ASSBIFI from 2022 to 2025.

“Neither Olasanoye nor her supporters from ASSBIFI and nine other affiliates of TUC participated in the purported delegates’ conference. How then could she have got 18 votes in an election she did not take part in? Besides, ASSBIFI and the nine unions did not participate in the purported delegates’ conference. ASSBIFI alone has over 103 delegates. The nine other unions share among themselves more than 100 delegates. So who did the 18 votes when they were not at the conference?” The source queried.

Lawyer to ASSBIFI and the aggrieved nine unions, Adewale, who also spoke to BusinessDay on Wednesday, said the delegates’ conference was tantamount to “contempt of court.”

According to Adewale, Justice R.H. Gwandu on July 6, 2022, issued an order restraining the delegates’ conference pending the determination of a case brought before the NIC by 10 affiliate unions of TUC. So the delegates’ conference was held in contempt of court and therefore null and void,” said Adewale.

The theme of the 12th triennial national delegates’ conference was “the working class amidst the challenges of national security, unemployment and democratic development’’.

With the election, Osifo is expected to pilot the affairs of the labour trade centre for the next three years.

Shehu Mohammed, the returning officer while announcing the results said that a total of 728 delegates participated in the election.

However, due to the internal squabble on Wednesday, election could only be held for the office of the president of the TUC.

In his acceptance speech, Osifo promised to fight for the welfare of the masses as well as the protection of the interest of Nigerian workers. Osifo also promised to carry everyone along in his quest for a greater TUC while also pledging to “initiate a platform to placate all aggrieved comrades.

Earlier, Quadri Olaleye, former TUC president, commended all members for their support, while calling on the incumbent to ensure peace for the union to move forward.

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