The chairman of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in Lagos State, Alhaji Musiliu Akinsanya (MC Oluomo), has explained that his calmness about his purported suspension from the union by the immediate past president, Alhaji Tajudeen Baruwa, was to prevent the achievements of the union in terms of peace in the state from becoming a waste.
Akinsanya, in a statement on Monday, said: “When Baruwa went ahead to purportedly suspend me from the union, I had the option of staying put and allowing all we have achieved in terms of peace in Lagos State to go down the drain or to activate a Plan B. I opted for the latter.
“As a strong believer in the rule of law, I caused a suit to be filed at the National Industrial Court challenging the various illegal conducts of Baruwa. I moved to the Lagos State Parks and Garages and, interestingly, the entire union members in Lagos State followed me as they believed in my leadership.”
He blamed Baruwa for the crisis in the NURTW, particularly in the South West, saying the “overbearing” actions of the former president without recourse to the union’s constitution were responsible for the crisis.
He accused Baruwa of trying to create fracas in the Lagos State chapter of the union by appointing a parallel state chairman to oversee the activities of tricycle operators.
Akinsanya recalled that he was instrumental in the emergence of Baruwa as the president of the union in 2019.
He said: “As chairman of the Lagos State chapter, I performed my duties diligently, fulfilling all my constitutional responsibilities and maintaining the hard-won peace in Lagos State.
“This role was admirably felt all over the South West and I was also elected as the vice chairman of Zone 2. In all of these, I conducted myself within the ambit of the law and constitution guiding our operations in NURTW.
“All went well smoothly until the illegal and unconstitutional interference in the affairs of the Lagos State chapter, and by extension, the South West by Baruwa when he decided to appoint another state chairman to handle the tricycle operators (Keke Marwa) thus having two chairmen in one state, which became a panacea for anarchy.
“This appointment, which was strange to our constitution and a sinister move to destabilise our operations in Lagos State, led to outright panic.
“The intervention of notable Lagosians and unionists did not go down well with Baruwa who only saw Lagos State as part of a grand design to annihilate the South West.”
Akinsanya accused Baruwa of “disrupting union activities in the South West” to the extent that Lagos, Oyo, Ogun, Osun and Ondo states had no union at all and this led to the institution of court cases at the National Industrial Court where the court granted an Order of Status Quo ante bellum as at April 12.
According to him, the implication of that was that the South West Zone could not have held any zonal election after April 12 and the stalemate led to the inauguration of a caretaker committee headed by Alhaji Tajudeen Agbede and 24 other notable unionists across Nigeria.
He said: “This caretaker committee, in order to move forward, has reached out to all members who were forced out by Baruwa and we have embraced peace and returned home.
“Let me state that the national elders are not the first set of people to call for reconciliation. Various governors in the South West had done the same. The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) under Comrade Ayuba Wabba as president and Alhaji Najeemdeen Yasin as the deputy president also made efforts. We were invited three different times. While we wasted money for flights to and from Abuja, Baruwa did not honour any of the NLC invitations.
“The constitution of the NURTW, in order to allow for inclusiveness, zones the union’s offices from time to time. The current zoning arrangement has zoned the president, vice president and trustee to Zone 2, which is the South West, for two terms of four years each. For any member to aspire to these posts, the zone must nominate such individuals at a special zonal conference/delegate conference for onward ratification by the national body at a special delegate conference.
“It is also noteworthy that during the administration of Baruwa, the activities of NURTW were suspended in five of the six states. The only state functioning was Ekiti. The legal position is that with the expiration of the term of office of Baruwa, the term of the chairmen of the various states has also expired. With the new-found reconciliation, a zonal congress can now be convened where nominees for national offices will be done.”
“This is in contrast to the sinister and unconstitutional motive of organising the Kangaroo delegate conference in Nasarawa, which can be described as Awada Kerikeri.”
Akinsanya appealed to the NLC leadership to allow the union to organise themselves without undue interference and bias.
“The outgone president is still a member of our great union and if he is still interested in seeking re-election, he should make recourse to Zone 2 (South West) for nomination and adoption,” he said.