Crisis Hits RATTAWU As FG Annuls Delegates Conference Over Legality


CRISIS may have crept into yet another industrial union resulting in the annulment of a July 16, 2021 Quadrennial Delegates’ Conference of the Radio, Television, Theatre and Arts Workers Union of Nigeria (RATTAWU) by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.

Comrade Tsanni, RATTAWU National President

With the annulment of the delegates’ conference in a letter by Dr Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment, RATTAWU, at the moment, is technically without a national leadership.

In the letter signed on behalf of the Minister by Mrs Omoabie Udeme Akpan, Director of Trade Union Services and Industrial Relations in the ministry, and addressed to the Secretary General of RATTAWU, Dr Ngige said the Ministry declared the delegates conference “null and void” because the national officers of RATTAWU failed to follow the constitutional process in the election of officers and their disregard of the Ministry’s directive which led to the absence of the Registrar of Trade Unions at the conference.

The letter, with reference number ML.IB/26/T/182, dated 12th August, 2021, and entitled: “Re: Hosting of National Delegate Conference in Flagrant Disobedience to the Directive of the Federal Government Via the Federal Ministry of Labour & Employment: An Official Report,” reads:

“The Ministry is in receipt of a letter from the Concerned Members & Stakeholders of RATTAWU addressed to the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment on the above mentioned subject and also another letter from your Union with Ref No RATT/NHQ/GM/Vol.4/93 dated 28th July, 2021 introducing the newly elected National Officers of the Union (RATTAWU) at a Quadrennial National Delegates Conference (NDC) held on 16th July, 2021.

“Please recall that in a letter with Ref No ML.ITU /26/V/9 dated 14th July, 2021, the Ministry directed that the aforementioned NDC should be put on hold until the Ministry’s dispute resolution mechanism over issues relating to the NDC is exhausted. This directive was disregarded and the NDC was held without the Registrar of Trade Unions in attendance.

“In view of the above, I am hereby directed to inform you that the NDC of 16th July, 2021 is null and void because the constitutional process of your Union on election of officers was not duly followed and the directive of the Ministry was flouted.”

Efforts by National Record to get the views of the National President of RATTAWU, Comrade Kabir Garba Tsanni failed as his mobile number was not available up press time.

When contacted, RATTAWU’s General Secretary, Comrade Akpauso Akpa, said the leadership of the union has received the letter and is currently in a conversation with the Minister towards resolving the matter.

He said at the end of the discussion, there will be an official statement on the final outcome will be communicated to all concerned stakeholders.

When told that the letter from the ministry was categorically clear on voiding the conference and the election of officers, Comrade Akpa said “there was nothing like that.”

He said the letter from the ministry annulling the delegates’ conference and the election of National Officers was due to a mix up. “That is why I said there is a conversation between the leadership and the Minister,” Akpa said.

National Record is not sure if the Minister of Labour and Employment is statutorily empowered to take the step that has been taken. This is more so in relation to the crisis situation in the Food Union where in contravention of an order by the National Industrial Court, the national leadership of the union had in August 2020 gone ahead to hold an emergency delegates’ conference where Comrade Lateef Oyelekan’s tenure as National President, and those of other national offices of the union were extended by an additional two years.

Although the Director of Trade Union Services and Industrial Relations as well as Registrar of Trade Unions had told National Record that they Ministry did not attend the emergency conference because of the court order, the Minister had up to now not taken any step, as he had now done with RATTAWU, to sanction the Food Union’s emergency conference.

At RATTAWU’s now annulled conference, which held in Gusau, Zamfara State capital, Comrade Tsanni, was returned as the union’s National President, while Comrade Innocent Ofuoyeandi, the Delta State NLC Secretary, was elected Deputy National President, as Comrade Saro Ganale, emerging as Vice President (South-South) and Comrade Emeka Kalu, Vice President (South-East), among officials.

Findings by National Record indicate that there was a deep division in the union in the follow up to the botched conference due to what some union members interested in contesting for leadership positions described as attempts to manipulate and undermine due process and constitutionalism against the incumbent National President, Comrade Tsanni.

For instance, an aggrieved member of the union, who pleaded anonymity, told National Record that Comrade Tsanni ignored a notice from the union’s electoral committee which had given screened candidates for elective position a 30-day period to campaign by scheduling the conference just a week after the screening.

Our source also noted that many union members had kicked against the choice of Gusau as venue for the conference against the backdrop of the escalating banditry in Zamfara State, complaints which Comrade Tsanni, who is said to be an indigene of the state, had ignored even in the face of increasing attacks and abductions by bandits.

Findings by National Record indicate that as a result of the state of insecurity and the lack of transparency and confusion in the process leading to the conference, delegates from the entire South-West boycotted the conference just as it was alleged that less than a quarter of the total number of delegates participated at the conference.

Our correspondent gathered that although the leadership of NLC had made efforts to intervene, but the national leadership of the union rebuffed the efforts as it had made up its mind on the steps to be taken.

Efforts to speak to Comrade Ismail Bello, the Acting General Secretary of the NLC, proved abortive as he neither picked his calls nor return them, just as he also failed to respond to an inquiry sent to his WhatsApp over an hour after he read the message.


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