Food Union as Food for Oyelekan, NLC and Ministry of Labour; By Abadom Lawrence Amechi

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Comrade Abadom

EXPECTEDLY, the National Union of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Employees (NUFBTE) came out with a circular on 2nd December, 2022 to shift the date for its kangaroo national delegates conference earlier scheduled for 9th December 2022. The shift confirmed my earlier position that Comrade Oyelekan is not going, and that rather, he is just trying to buy time. In the circular, some watery and flimsy excuses were adduced as reasons for the shift of date.

The Food Union, as our union is popularly known, has become food for Oyelekan, some vested interests in the NLC and Ministry of Labour. No one can correct or caution him!

The union could not come out boldly to tell Nigerians the truth about the shift in date. In my last interview with National Record, I did say that the 9th December date is a ruse and it will never happen because the proposed venue for the hosting of the conference is under construction.

In fact, the foundation for the multi-purpose hall to be used has not been laid. I have it in good authority that approval for the structural drawings has not been granted. How can a partially-sighted illiterate and bigot be deceiving the huge army of food workers? Must the conference be held in Ibadan? Are there no other hotels in Ibadan, if it must be held in Ibadan?

What Oyelekan is enjoying is the huge army of fools, cowards and non-entities in the union. There’s no union where Oyelekan’s acts can be tolerated.

The conference of 2022, supervised by the late Comrade John Onyenemere, was conducted in Lafia, Nasarawa State and not in Owerri, his home town and geo-political zone. The 2012 delegates conference supervised by Comrade Oyelekan was in Abeokuta, his home town and South-West geo-political zone. Since the union is a national union, the normal thing was to take the 2016 conference to the East. But Oyelekan decided that it should be in Lagos, also in the South-West.

He cancelled the 2020 conference and unashamedly extended his tenure by two years despite a court injunction against the convocation of his illegal midnight conference. Having distorted the flow of change of leadership baton, he has decided to concoct what will seem like a conference on the surface, but between him and his partners in crime, he is not going anywhere. If 2016 could not be held in the South-East, for reasons known only to Oyelekan, what about 2022? Why Ibadan? Has the union now become a Yoruba union of food workers?

Oyelekan has not only Coca-Colanise the union, he has also succeeded to Yorubanise the union?

All but one national officers of the Food Union in NAC are Yoruba. Three of the paid secretaries who are far above retirement age are still serving against the union’s conditions of service just because they are Yoruba.

All non-Yorubas have been sent out of the union. The union has become an embodiment of injustice, inequity, unfairness and corruption. How can a union be building a hotel when the terminal benefits of staffers who served and died in active service have not been paid?

Widows of ex-staff of Food Union come into national secretariat in tears begging on their knees to be paid their husband’s rightful and deserved benefits. Comrade Oyelekan’s wickedness is crying to high heaven. There’s a case of a particular widow, who, out of hardship and frustration, has developed a terminal illness.

I had thought that in a democratic system, every institution, will draw inspiration from the spirit and letters of democracy. Democracy thrives on the tripod of justice, equity and fairness. It is therefore expected that the ministry of labour, as an agent of a democratic government, should be able to provide the needed leadership good enough to correct all the evils going on in Nigerian trade union organisations and especially the food union.

I still don’t understand what the current minister wants to be remembered for as a career politician. What are the regulatory functions of the ministry? Is it to just peruse cooked up financial documents of unions that come with fat brown envelopes or bulging Ghana must go bags?

Amechi is a pro-democracy activist and member of NUFBTE’s Redemption group. He writes from Lagos.

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