Akpan Etukudoh Asare
Ten labour unions who are affiliates of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) may boycott the annual celebration of Workers Day in Cross River State over alleged controversial election of a new chairman of NLC in he state.
This indication came to the open yesterday when spokesman of the unions, Comrade Eyo Nsa Itam who is state chairman of Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), spoke to the press on their behalf.
Comrade Ben Ukpebio of the Medical and Health Workers Union was reported to have emerged as the new chairman of the NLC in the state, which election has now drawn the ire of other contestants who have called for outright cancellation.
The ten unions include National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), National Union of Pensioners (NUP).
Others are Maritime Workers, Food and Beverages union, NASU, AUPCTRE, NASU.
Speaking, Comrade Eyo Nsa Itam who was one of the contestants, said they have agreed to reject the outcome of the election, which they said was highly fraudulent and devoid of the usual NLC standard.
Itam alleged that non delegates were imported to vote, and that out of 376 accredited voters 408 votes were recorded.
He also claimed that the officer from the national headquarters of NLC who was the electoral officer for the election, Comrade Anthony Benjamin, was heavily compromised.
Itam said, “The just concluded NLC election in the state was fraught with many irregularities, fraud, compromise and was far below the usual high standard of electoral process we are associated with.
“The number of voters was far higher than the accredited ones.
Out of 398 accreditee voters, due to delay in commencing the election, only 378 remained to vote as 22 had left. But outcome showed much higher figure of voters.
There were extra 30 votes. Where did they come from?
“We also can confirm that the electoral officer from NLC Abuja, Comrade Anthony Benjamin was heavily compromised even though he had assured that if he found out that there were any irregularities or higher number of voters outside the accredited ones he would cancel the election.
“Yet he went ahead to announce a controversial election when sitting president of NLC, John Ushie, made him to speak with someone on the phone as the election proceeded.
In their briefing, they said: “We altogether reject the outcome of the election. We do not recognise Comrade John Ushie as chairman of NLC in Cross River.
“We have already sent our protest and position to NLC headquarters. We will not go to court until we exhaust all avenues within the union to redress this robbery of victory of Comrade Eyo Nsa Itam, who clearly won the election.”
Speaking, Itam said he does not have issue with whoever wins the election but that the process must be seen to be transparent, credible and according to NLC standard, which was not.
Reacting, john Ushie described the reaction of the Itam and his group as that of a desperate gang, adding he did not stand election with him.
“He added that the entire process was wholly transparent, acceptable and in accordance with the NLC constitution. He said the official from Abuja held to the NLC standard.
Similarly, a cross section of workers from the state civil service, particularly those in the Education Results Centre in the state ministry of education who have been protesting alleged nonpayment of 18 months salaries by the state government may not also participate in the May Day ceremonies.
They claimed they were given letters of permanent employment and had severally, publicly and privately drew attention of the state government to their plight but were rebuffed and described as ingrates by the commissioner for education even when they have endured hunger and deprivations as a result of no salaries.
Godwin Etta, Commissioner for Education has angrily reacted to the plea by the workers, saying if they cannot be patient anymore they were free to leave the work and go home because the state government has no money to pay them.
Akpan Etukudoh Asare