The Joe Ajaero’s Induced Ill Fated Industrial Action; The True Situation

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By WALTER ONONUJU NNADI

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) through her media directorate, wrote the state government informing her of their state executive Elections slated to hold on 7/03/2023 and also requested for security coverage; a request the state government granted immediately and urged they go about the exercise in the most civil manner citing the season and time plus the security situation in the state.

On the 7/03/2023, all the delegates for the election were present and were ready to exercise their civic responsibilities to their unions but to their chagrin, the organizers of the election decided to change the unions mode of electing their state leaders which is through DELEGATES process where the chairmen of the affiliate unions will vote for their agreed and preferred Candidates on behalf of their members but the umpire through the secretary of the electoral Committee wanted the election process to be jettisoned as against their established rules.

Note, they had two Candidates contesting for the position of state Chairman of the apex union body in the state; They are the incumbent caretaker Committee chairman in the person of Rev. Philip Nwansi and George Ofoegbu; the incumbent interim treasurer and current chairman of IMSU non academic staff union (Mr. Joe Ajero’s preferred Candidate).
Where Rev. Nwansi is asking to be allowed to operate in a substantive position going forward, the national body refused and requested for an election to be conducted, a position Rev. Nwansi accepted but on the other hand, Mr. George Ofoegbu of IMSU NASU was citing that Rev. Nwansi’s retirement date is almost due saying that he is 65 and can’t function optimally due to age, but Nwansi straightened him by informing him that the federal government has increased the retirement age to 70 years while telling the union that the national chairman of union (Joe Ajero) has only two years remaining on his retirement from service but he was elected the union’s National chairman.

This impasse drew the attention of the state government who quickly contacted the national Chairman, Mr. Joe Ajero to intervene and beckon on the parties to reach a compromise position but the National Chairman responded by saying,
“I’ve spoken to them but they are not ready to find a common ground” This was Mr Jeo Ajero’s response.

TWIST OF FATE
Mr. Joe Ajero cleverly turned against the state government who was not even interested in the Union’s internal affairs but was poised to make sure that the election was held and the outcome acceptable by all and sundry and promised to work with any of the Candidates who emerges as the substantive chairman of the union in the state.

He first accused the state government of intervening in the affairs of the union in the state because his planned forceful imposition of his preferred Candidate on the union was roundly resisted by his colleagues in the state. He threatened to Institute an interim executives if they wouldn’t allow him have his way and make sure the state government suffers his onslaught, what an unprovoked attack.
On that same day when he noticed that his plan was about to crumble, he called off the election and instituted interim executives with his preferred Candidate as the chairman, a move that didn’t go down well with the union members in the state and they immediately rejected it and insisted they hold their Elections inline with the existing Election’s guide lines of the union.

THE ENUGU PACT.
The union members who roundly rejected the Candidacy of Mr. George Ofoegbu citing some unwholesome activities that heralded his interest to lead the union in the state. It was gathered that the National chairman met with Mr. Ofoegbu in Enugu at the instance of an Emekuku born politician who has the ambition of running for the office of Governor in the coming November 2023 state governors election.
In that meeting, an agreement was reached that he will be installed as the state Chairman of the union at all cost through any means necessary but he will work against all the activities of the state government through series of industrial actions. At that meeting was Mr. Joe Ajero, the Governorship hopeful and Mr. George Ofoegbu.

THE INDUSTRIAL ACTIONS
As all the cards played by Mr. Joe Ajero to have his stooge installed as the Labour union Chairman in the state got booted off by his colleagues he imposed on them an interim executives which was also rejected.
So in a face saving move, he called for industrial action (strike).
He called on the affiliate unions to join in the strike but was met with series of “WHY” and “WHAT” questions. He asked the Imo workers, the aviation unions and Banks, They refused saying that the strike is unprovoked and uncalled for.

He tried to coerce the NUPENG to cease supply of petroleum products to the state, they refused then he turned to his comrades at the ELECTRICITY WORKERS’ union where he remains their chairman till date and they complied by shutting Imo out from the national grid and they are the only union on strike.

From the above analysis, It is very clear that Mr. Joe Ajero has an ill motive and is prepared to be used as an instrument to cause crisis in the state but thank God for the understanding and maturity exhibited by the union members in the state. He is looking for troubles where non exists. It’s on record that there is no labor crisis in the state and none is expected to occur in the nearest future. The state government has never reneged on her responsibilities to the workers and sees no reason the character like Mr. Joe Ajero should forment trouble using the state workers as canon fodders.

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