NLC regrets election crisis, to organize fresh polls

NLC President, Abdulwaheed Omar

The National Executive Council of the Nigeria Labour Congress will meet Wednesday to consider ways of resolving the crisis over the election of its new leaders.

The 11th National Delegates Conference of the central labour group, which was expected to culminate in the election of a new National President and other members of the NEC, ended abruptly in Abuja after voting was disrupted by angry delegates.

The delegates had accused the Credentials Committee of certain decisions they considered “manipulative and fraudulent”, capable of conferring undue advantage on some candidates.

The aggrieved delegates stormed the International Conference Centre venue of the conference when the election was half-way through, to cart away and destroy the ballot boxes and other materials, forcing further proceedings to a halt.

However, the Congress at the end of its National Administrative Council meeting convened immediately after the crisis, expressed regrets at the “error” by the Credential Committee, which led to the impasse.

According to the General Secretary of the Congress, Peter Ozo-Eson, the council meeting, which lasted till the early hours of the morning of Friday, resolved to swiftly work out ways to ensure that fresh polls were held in the near future.

“The National Administrative Council of the Congress resolved to convene a meeting of the National Executive Council on Wednesday, February 18, for the purpose of fixing a new date to take the vote,” Mr. Ozo-Eson said.

Though he was not forthcoming with the details of what the NEC was planning, a senior official of the Congress said even if it would take something similar to the “Doctrine of Necessity” that was adopted to the resolve the political crisis in 2010, they would not shy away from it.

“The ultimate goal is to ensure that the crisis is resolved before the expiration of the legal tenure of the present executive in March,” the official said.

Describing the disruption of the poll as “painful and unfortunate”, Mr. Ozo-Eson said the entire Congress is “determined to work with all those concerned and the organs and friends of Congress to find a way to resolve the impasse as quickly as possible and without the current leadership exceeding the constitutionally mandated time limit of four years.”

He blamed the entire crisis on “a printing error” spotted on some of ballot papers used for the election, which had duplication of the serial numbers and names of some candidate.

The error, he said, affected only four candidates, two each from opposing camps.

According to him, the degree of the error identified on the ballot papers was so insignificant that it could have been resolved amicably by way of vote invalidation without the aggrieved delegates disrupting the entire poll.

While appealing to members of the Congress to be calm and vigilant, Mr. Ozo-Eson said all must come together to ensure that the important aspect of what was considered the biggest delegates conference in the history of the Congress was completed amicably.

Before the stalemate, the conference, which began on February 8, was virtually coasting home with most of the key reports, including finance, secretariat, motions and constitution review committees, adopted.

With the NEC yet to be dissolved before the stalemate, a senior official of the Congress said the constitution still allowed it till end of March to remain in office.

In the circumstance, the official, who asked that his identity be protected, as he does not have the authority to speak on the issue, said the Congress would be under pressure to ensure that the aborted election was rescheduled in the next two to three weeks, to avoid a clash with the forthcoming national elections.

About 3,119 delegates from 43 affiliate unions of the Congress attended the four-day conference.

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