Workers break into NLC secretariat in Abuja, demand sack of national chairman

Friday Ajagunna
Friday Ajagunna
NLC protesters at LP secretariat

The row over the proposed national convention of the Labour Party has deepened, with the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) staging a nationwide protest to demand the cancellation of the convention slated for March 27 in Umuahia, Abia State.

The House of Representatives caucus of the party has also called for the suspension of the planned convention.

But the Julius Abure-led National Working Committee has rebuffed all entreaties from party stakeholders, insisting that the convention would take place as planned.

The workers on Wednesday, March 20, stormed the headquarters of the party at 11 am and forcefully gained entry into the secretariat of the party.

There was a heated argument between the Head of Information of the NLC, Benson Upah and security agents stationed at the party secretariat, which led to one of the security operatives drawing his gun.

After a few minutes of heated arguments, the workers forced their way into the complex. The party secretariat was deserted.

The labour leaders, led by the acting chairman of the NLC political commission, Theophilus Ndubuaku demanded the sack of the national chairman of the Labour Party, Abure.

They accused Abure of being a “sole administrator who unilaterally fixed the upcoming convention without input from stakeholders of the party.”

Ndubuaku said there had not been ward, local government, and state congresses in the build-up to the convention.

He accused Abure of trying to secretly stage a coup that would make him (Abure) remain in office perpetually as national chairman.

The labour leader said the leadership of the NLC political commission would not accept such illegality.

Ndubuaku alleged that Abure was a political coup plotter who was plotting to remain chairman of the party.

He said during a meeting with the leadership of the NLC, Abure was asked to step aside to allow for a thorough investigation following the accusation of misappropriation of funds raised for the prosecution of the 2023 general election.

Ndubuaku said the Labour Party chairman “refused and proceeded with his plans for the convention without holding ward, local government, and state congresses.”

He said: “Abure is a political coup plotter. He was made secretary of the Labour Party in June 2019. In March 2021, Abure transformed into chairman of the party by himself. He plotted a coup, and since then there have been court rulings and INEC interventions demanding Abure do the right thing.

“Abure was given a timeline of what to do. As we speak, Abure has refused to inaugurate the Board of Trustees of the Labour Party, which was part of an agreement initiated by INEC following a court judgement.

“The NLC political commission has invited Abure within the past three weeks twice, and he found excuses not to come. A day before he put out a notice that there would be a convention in Umuahia, he was in the NLC office to meet with the president of the NLC. I was present, and we discussed.

“There is no convention that made Abure the chairman of the Labour Party. There had been court judgments establishing the fact that the Labour Party belongs to the NLC, and somebody has now hijacked the party.

“Abure is planning to hold a convention without the owners of the party. All he wanted was to assemble some people within seven days to make him the chairman of a party he had no hand in establishing. When we wrote to him, he was abusing the president of the NLC. Can you imagine?”

Secretary of the NLC political commission, Chris Uyot said: “As far as we are concerned, Abure has ceased to be the national chairman of the party. That is why Nigerian workers are insisting on a proper national convention. Nigerian workers have decided that it is time to take back our party.

“Nigerian workers formed this party with the vision that the party would work to develop our society, and improve our economy and our country.”

But the party condemned the forceful takeover of its secretariat by the workers.

In a statement by its Acting National Publicity Secretary, Obiora Ifoh, the Labour Party said the entry into its office was a criminal act and a misplacement of priority.

The statement said greed and inordinate ambition were pushing the NLC president, Joe Ajero to lose discretion and decency.

The party wondered how Ajaero could lead a band of lawless persons who are known to have partisan interests in other major political parties such as the PDP and APC against a recognised independent political party.

The statement said: “Ajaero’s continuous claim that the NLC owns the Labour Party is not in any way supported by either the Electoral Act or the Constitution. For your information, a political party is owned by those who are card-carrying or financial members of the party. We are aware that more than 90 percent of the members of the NLC have not met this condition and therefore cannot claim to be the owners of the party. The constitution also provides that no organisation can own any other organisation. The NLC, as an organisation cannot therefore claim ownership of the Labour Party.

“Today, Nigeria is witnessing the worst economic strangulation ever in the history of Nigeria. Issues such as poor workers’ wages, high inflation, and insecurity have led to Nigeria turning into a Hobbesian state, yet after a year of his assumption of office, Ajaero has chosen to ignore all these national challenges.

“It would interest you to know that Ajaero’s NLC has yet to successfully picket any federal government establishment. His attempt to extend his rascality to Imo State was met with a higher and more brutal force. Unfortunately for us in the Labour Party, we do not command any force, unlike the NLC, which is now encouraging militancy within its ranks.

“By its own constitution, the NLC cannot even call for a picketing of any establishment without a directive of its NEC, but what we saw was a political committee acting out an illegal script by Ajaero. The committee has no legal right to call an action in the nature of picketing or breaking into a political party where most of them are not even members.

“The present NLC leadership is politicized. It has left its primary responsibilities of defending Nigerian workers and has delved deeply into partisan politics, and this is a bad omen for the working community. We have earlier advised Ajaero to emulate the leadership of Ayuba Waba, Olaleye Quadri, and Festus Osifo who had or are currently passing through a similar route and still maintain a working relationship with the party.

“We are, however, reviewing today’s criminal actions and disruption of activities in our national headquarters with our legal department for further actions. What we saw today appears to be a personal vendetta against the national chairman, Julius Abure who they called several unprintable names including labelling him a thief. We are certainly going to take legal action on matters of libel.”

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