The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Wednesday apologised to Nigerians for the fracas which disrupted and caused their elections at the end of the 11th Delegate Conference of the congress last week to be inconclusive.
According to THISDAY, the President of the NLC Comrade Abdulwahed Omar, speaking at the end of a meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) in Abuja, admitted that Nigerians must have been shocked to watch the fracas which was caught by television crews.
The meeting, which lasted about six hours, had in attendance former Presidents of the NLC, Adams Oshiomole; Ali Chiroma, Hassan Sunmonu and other veterans of the Congress. Foremost lawyer and human rights activist, Femi Falana briefly joined the meeting.
“The elections were not just about us, or even about Nigerian workers, but about the stability of the nation. We know they were angry and disappointed at us because they never expected this from us. We want to give the assurance that it will never happen again,” he said.
Omar also announced that March 12, has been picked to reconvene the delegates conference and conclude outstanding elections.
“The incoming elections would be peaceful and all contestants have agreed to put congress first before themselves, we cannot destroy the common will of Nigerian workers,” Omar said.
The conference had ended in dispute with some delegates hurling Stones and smashing ballot boxes following the discovery of duplication of candidates on ballot booklets.
The blame was placed at the feet of the Credentials Committee which however noted that it had duly inspected the ballot booklets after receiving them from the printer.
This had prompted speculation that the said ballot booklets may have been planted in a pre-determined move to scuttle and truncate the elections.
Former President of the NLC, Sunmonu, also briefing on the resolution reached, explained that what led to the fracas was not an attempt to rig the elections, but the last minute inclusion of candidates.
The constitution of the NLC stipulates that the final list of candidates must have been concluded and published five weeks to the elections.
But at the delegates conference, hitherto, disqualified candidates were allowed to contest, leading to re-printing of fresh ballot papers which had to be hurriedly done.
Oshiomole, who spoke to journalists briefly, debunked insinuations that the election fracas smeared the credibility of the congress.
He insisted that there was no attempt by anyone to manipulate the elections.
“Many thought this was the beginning of a prolonged crises, but Nigerian workers need a united voice at this time, a voice to interrogate those who manipulate the apparatus of government,” he said.
THISDAY reported that, as the meeting started at about 12.40pm with media men shut out, labour leaders were standing around in clusters discussing in hushed tones. About 3.30 p.m., Oshiomole, the current executive, the contestants and others emerged and went into another closed door meeting on the 10th floor of the Labour House building which lasted for over three hours.
The meeting, THISDAY gathered, was to create peace among warring factions, so that the crises would not become a prolonged one and further smear the name of the congress.
The veterans were particularly concerned about how it would look to the Nigerian public that the congress, which had successfully held governments to ransom in the past, cannot conduct peaceful polls.