ULC: Lack of equal opportunity in NLC led to pulling away of the Ajaero group – NUPENG
By Kingsley Abavo, Benin
Division in the Nigeria Labour Congress came to a head recently, with the launch of an autonomous labour umbrella; United Labour Congress [ULC] by the Joe Ajaero group.
Comrade Ajaero is the pioneer President of the new labour body after being factional President of the NLC in the last two years.
Ajaero also is the Secretary General, National Union of Electricity Employees [NUEE].
While Igwe Achese, President, NUPENG is Ajaero’s deputy under the new labour umbrella.
In an exclusive interview with our correspondent in Benin, Edo State capital, comrade Bello Aneru disclosed that lack of equal opportunity for the federating units in the Nigeria Labour Congress caused the pulling away of the Ajaero group.
Aneru is the Vice President, National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas workers [NUPENG], Warri Zone.
He said that ULC having satisfied the provision of the Nigeria Labour Act, it is now independent standing on its own like the NLC, and Trade Union Congress [TUC].
It is all indicative of progress for the Nigeria nation having the NLC, TUC, and now ULC in the labour movement of the country, Bello asserted.
Splitting of Nigeria labour movement into independent units poses no threat to its effectiveness as they share common ideology: protection of members’ interest, and upholding their welfare as the main thrust, he argued, adding that this in itself serves as the meeting point of the various units.
Bello stressed, that what is important is that the units are in existence, and operate in agreement with the dictates of the Nigeria Labour Act.
The ULC is said to comprise 20 affiliate unions and some civil liberty organizations that share common bond.
Ajaero reportedly has promised purposeful leadership that would bail out Nigeria from the doldrums and chart a genuine part for labour in the country.
The oil workers’ rights activist also bared his thoughts on the Federal Government proposed recognition and approval of modular refineries in the Niger – Delta region.
According to him, it was an issue NUPENG had canvassed for long hence it is a welcome development, and sort of rescue measure in the face of government owned obsolete and almost non-functional analogue refineries.
Especially when it is obvious that with the pervading recession, Nigeria cannot afford new, digital refineries as obtained elsewhere.
With the new government proposal, if holistically and sincerely implemented, the challenge of youths’ restiveness in the Niger – Delta region will no doubt be reduced to the minimum, Bello opined.
He argues that whatever the short comings of the modular refineries, with government encouragement and support, as time progresses, they will improve on quality and become a stop gap in the production chain of petroleum products in Nigeria.
Bello however chides the federal government for the obsolete, non-functional state of Nigerian refineries saying; Turn -Around Maintenance [TAM] ought to have been carried out on the refineries at intervals but the reverse has always been the case due to one reason or the other.
“Government is fully responsible for the ugly situation we have on our hands”.
Bello said NUPENG do not believe in the privatization of Nigerian refineries in their present non – functional state.
“You cannot privatize a dead facility. How can you privatize the refineries knowing full well that they are not working? So we are saying privatization is not the solution, but just let the system work.
“We don’t want to discuss anything privatization of refineries but let them work so that when it is eventually privatized, the new investors will be able to test run and know the true state of what they have acquired, and be able to evaluate the Strength, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats [SWOT], to be able to plan for production.
He stated, that Nigeria has no reason to be importing refined petroleum products rather in the absence of functional refineries, Government should encourage people who have the capability to build refinery, and produce refined products.
With this done, the legion of problems confronting the Nigeria nation in the oil and gas sector will be history, Bello said.
Evaluating President Buhari administration’s performance
On the rating of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s federal government, he said the country is improving gradually even when critics hold contrary opinion.
Bello hails the administration’s fight against corruption adding that he does not see anything wrong even if it is one sided as critics say.
He argues that after the exit of the Buhari’s administration, his successor can focus on the other side that it did not touch and at the end of the day, Nigeria will be better for it.
Being one sided and getting the right results is better than being static, he stated and chided Nigerians saying “We talk too much”.
“All Nigerian Presidents, there is none that have not been criticized and until we stop this act, Nigeria will not make progress. Let us learn to appreciate our leaders. I may not be correct but in my opinion, Nigerians over react when our leaders strive to work for them.”