UPDATE: New Food Union Leaders Assume Office, But…

Comrade Oyelekan, spotting red shirt in the middle of the front row in a group photograph after the ceremonial handover last Thursday. Immediately to his left is Comrade Garba Ibrahim, the new National President, and to his right is Comrade Mike Olanrewaju, the General Secretary of NUFBTE.

By Our Reporters

THE new President of the National Union of Food Beverage and Tobacco Employees (NUFBTE) and other national officers who emerged at the union’s delegates conference held on 2nd and 3rd February 2023, have been sworn in following our exclusive report last week, exposing the refusal of the former president of the union, Comrade Lateef Idowu Oyelekan to vacate office after the conference.

Comrade Garba Ibrahim, new National President of NUFBTE.

The swearing in ceremony held on Thursday, March 30, 2023 after National Record‘s report detailing how the immediate past president, Comrade Lateef Idowu Oyelekan, had refused to hand over to the new president of the union, Comrade Garba Ibrahim.

Our correspondents gathered that after the publication, many unionists prevailed on Comrade Oyelekan to do the needful describing the act as not only a statutory aberration in trade unionism but also considered as a serious unethical and undemocratic conduct.

Comrade Oyelekan, popularly addressed by union members as ‘Oye’ or ‘Asiwaju of Food Union’, until the official handover last Thursday, was alleged to have been fully running the affairs of the union, including the signing of cheques along with all the other former signatories – the National Signing Trustee and the National Treasurer – all of whom had constitutionally left office at the delegates conference, where some controversial resolutions were guidedly passed.

In the exclusive report published Monday, March 27, 2023, National Record disclosed how about two months after the 11th Quadrennial National Delegates Conference held 2nd-3rd February, 2023, the new national officers of the Food Union were yet to take over, thereby creating a suspicion that Comrade Oyelekan was determined to implement the terms of two ‘fraudulent’ resolutions alleged to have been designed to strip the union of over N400 million and addition to literally handing over the union’s assets to Comrade Oye to ‘manage’.

NUFBTE National Secretariat: Food Labour House, 9, Mortune Avenue, Valley Estate, Off Lagos-Abeokuta Express Way, Ikeja, Lagos.

A copy of the two resolutions obtained by National Record, appointed Comrade Lateef Oyelekan as the Chairman and Managing Director of all the union’s investments. The resolution mandates three others, Comrades Anthony Anyasi, Yomi Oni-Orisan and madam Kate Charles, to serve as members of Board and collaborate with Oye to manage the union’s investments.

“(3) The NEC and NDC in-sessions expressed unreserved appreciation and deep satisfaction for the unprecedented achievement of the outgoing National President (Comrade Oyelekan Lateef) therefore unanimously resolved in accordance with the Provisions of our Union Constitution that he (Comrade Oyelekan Lateef) be appointed and affirmed as a substantive Chairman and Managing Director of all the existing Union Investments

“In the same vein, three (3) members of the outgoing NAC members namely:- Comrades Anthony Anyasi, Yomi Oni-Orisan and madam Kate Charles respectively were considered and appointed as members of the Board of our investments together with comrade Oyelekan lateef representing the outgoing NAC members on the board,” reads one of the resolutions.

The second resolution reads: “(4) As a measure of appreciation and motivational reward, the NEC and NDC in-sessions overwhelmingly resolved that 10% of the total current value of all assets acquired and accrued for the Union by the outgoing regime led by Comrade Oyelekan Lateef shall be given and conceded to the outgoing National President Comrade Oyelekan Lateef and all his team of National Administrative Committee (NAC).”

Several calls made to the new president, Comrade Ibrahim, to inquire if he has actually taken over the running of the union, rang out without him picking. he did not call back as at press time.

When our reporter called him on his mobile and told him that the call was to confirm the handover he allegedly did last Thursday, Comrade Oyelekan replied in a gruff tone: “That is not your problem” and before he cut the call, he was heard telling someone; “it is a journalist.”

Efforts made to get the reaction of Comrade Anofowose Felix Toyin, the new National Signing Trustee, did not succeed as he did not pick his calls. He also failed to respond to questions on the issue that were sent to him via sms and WhatsApp, hours after he had read them.

When contacted, Comrade Mike Olanrewaju, NUFBTE General Secretary, picked our call, but he however quickly said before he was told the reason for the call: “I am in a meeting in NLC right now in Abuja, please I will call back.” He however did not call back as at press time.

Questions without answers

Sources in the Food Union confided in our reporters that the handover was compelled by the National Record’s exposé which was said to have been posted on a NUFBTE WhatsApp platform where he was said to have appealed to new national officers that Oye was going to handover and that they would be summoned soon.

The sources, all of who pleaded anonymity for fear of retribution, also revealed that after the publication by National Record, questions were being asked at many branch levels and by the new leadership of NLC to which neither the national secretariat nor any of the new leaders could provide reasonable answers.

In addition to the background murmurings, it was also revealed that Comrade Garba Ibrahim, the new president, had started to complain, of being addressed as president without assuming office.

According to one of the sources, “for Garba who is very timid to begin to complain is a measure of the frustration and anger in the union.”

The source further said: “Let me tell you, Garba is timid and from all ramifications, we know that Garba does not have the psychological comportment and intellectual capacity to be national president of the union. One, Garba cannot address the press, he cannot even stand up and speak in a crowd; that is how bad. Secondly, Garba’s branch is almost dead. When the flour mills he was working with was taken over, he had to plead for him to be retained as a security guard. The branch remits only about N200,000 monthly as check-off. So naturally, he is never in any position to stand up to Oyelekan to say anything.”

Another source noted that “the handover ceremony may just be a charade because of the pressure from some branches, and we learnt, also from the new leadership of NLC to which, as you well know, we are affiliated. I doubt if they have regularised the union’s bank accounts to feature the new signatories. There is the possibility that the old signatories may still be in charge as signatories while a semblance of handover is given by last week’s ceremony.”

An impeccable source at the union’s national secretariat recently, one of the new national officers openly confronted Oyelekan asking him to leave. The source further revealed that even the General Secretary, Comrade Olanrewaju, who was seen to be Oyelekan’s right handman had become tired of being used to manipulate the union and had therefore began to subtly revolt against his (Oye’s) authority.

“Oye was gradually losing the authority and the grip he had. In fact, Mike [Olanrewaju], the General Secretary, we learnt, began to fight him; even Mike, who was like Oyelekan’s robot. Oyelekan forgot that human beings are not machines, human being are complex.”

A member of the Redemption Group who had overtime openly resisted and campaigned against Oyelekan’s seemingly eternal hold on the union, told our correspondent that Oyelekan’s refusal to vacate office after the conference was ensure the implementation of the 10% largess to him and the outgone NAC members.

“We learnt that the reason for delaying the handover is the largess of 10% resolved to be given to Oye and the former members of his NAC. We are convinced that the N400 million was the reason that Oye had not released the treasury of the union because he certainly wanted to see how he could secure that before handing over. That is the fraudulent reason; that is asset stripping.

“Will it be right if President Buhari will stand up and tell Nigerians that 10% of Nigeria’s assets should be given to him and members of the Federal Executive Council?” the source asked.




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