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The pioneering contributions of fire-brand trade union activism from Nigerian Railway under the fearless and ferocious leadership of Late Pa Michael Imoudu in ensuring that the colonial urchins who came to perch and rule so arbitrarily here were driven out of our land years later and insisting that workers were given living wages will forever remain evergreen in the annals of Nigerian labour history and in the hearts of labour activists. The 45-day strike action of 1945 involving not fewer than 45,000 workers that resulted in the payment of COLA (Cost of Living Allowance) to Nigerian workers remains the essential watershed of vibrant trade unionism in Nigeria. 

The thoughtful spirit, ethos and ideology of our forebears, from time immemorial, have never departed from the blood stream of the progressive Unions among which is the Nigeria Union of Railway Workers (NUR). Being a clear-headed and upwardly futuristic trade union affiliate of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and as the 11th Delegates Conference of the Congress kept approaching with the unfolding scenarios that were suggestive of desperation, brigandage, sinister and dangerous meanderings by some gladiators in the Congress, Nigeria Union of Railway Workers initiated a forum called Labour Interactive Forum on the 7th of January, 2014 with a monolithic term of reference of gathering all Secretaries General and Presidents General of all NLC affiliate unions and, far ahead of the 11th Delegates Conference of the Congress which later and as feared turned out to be an accomplished failure, broker a single slate of candidates to various elective offices through consensus. The first and subsequent meetings of Labour Interactive Forum as initiated by NUR had successfully gathered the cooperation and membership of over 26 industrial unions of the Congress before the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), which produced Comrade Abdulwaheed Omar as President of the Congress, started another initiative called Unity Forum which, without looking through any crystal ball to determine its mission, came up with exactly similar ideology as Labour Interactive Forum.

The inalienable commitment of those of us in the Labour Interactive Forum to rescue the soul of the Congress from imminent cataclysm far ahead of time made us to concede to the Unity Forum which was headed by Comrade Alogba of NUT. The task was evidently onerous for Alogba’s Unity Forum as it met severally at Planet 1, Maryland; Lagos Airport Hotel, Ikeja; Lapour Hotel and many other hotels in Abuja before it came up with its verdict on how and which sector goes for which office in the Delegates Conference of 9th – 11th February, 2015 which ended in a show of shame. By this time, Unity Forum had the membership of virtually all the Presidents General and Secretaries General of all the affiliate unions of the Congress which, by simple rationality, meant that the Unity Forum had the authority and legitimacy of the National Executive Council (NEC) and Central Working Committee (CWC) of the Congress to do what it did.

The Unity Forum, by the instrumentality of its verdict which was embraced and accepted by all trade unions of the Congress, shared elective positions between the private sector and the public sector in a manner that could be adjudged to be fair, equitable and inclusive enough. Seven offices including the office of the President were zoned to the private sector while nine offices were zoned to the public sector. This, in effect, meant that only private sector can aspire to the office of the president while public sector can aspire to any other offices as zoned to it apart from the office of the president. This verdict, which was commonly accepted by all, was expected to be treated as sacrosanct until Comrade Wabba Ayuba of the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN) from the public sector desecrated the verdict at the eleventh hour to the wild consternation of all by picking nomination form after being a party to the deal and generally accepted verdict of the Unity Forum. That eventually marked the very genesis of all troubles the Congress has been thrown into which, of course, Labour Interactive Forum and Unity Forum thrived to avert.

It will be interesting to know that Comrades Joe Ajaero of National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) and Achese Igwe of National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, both of the private sector would have been the only eligible presidential candidates in the bungled election if Comrade Ayuba Wabba, seemingly out of desperation and insatiable lust for power, had left the private sector to the presidential race alone and as agreed to by all trade union affiliates.

In some quarters, it was argued that Comrade Wabba has, over the years, been positioning himself allegedly illicitly for the saddle at the Congress. Corroborating this allegation, he was said to have, against conventional practice and the constitution of his MHWUN, gone ahead to secure for himself and his cronies tenure elongation. Authoritative information has it that his tenure was supposed to end in 2013 after serving two terms of eight years. Comrade George Kaiserye and three other members of his union have filed a suit against him at the National Industrial Court, Abuja, to query the alibi for the tenure elongation. The case is till before the honourable court.

Many trade unionists, critics, veterans and enthusiasts of labour movement in Nigeria share the sentiment that Wabba has no business with becoming the president of the Congress because, according to most veterans, he lacks the clout, moral and the required pedigree to be one. Apart from the tenure elongation he has fraudulently secured for himself in his union which has generated litigations here and there, he has failed in all sense to be taken as worthy of leadership of the Congress. As a Treasurer of the Congress as at the time the Congress was plunged into a housing scheme scam of 2.6 billion naira with yet-to-be-arrested Mustapha Madawaki of Kriston Lally EPC Nigeria Limited, it is generally believed that he must be neck-deep in the dirty scam that has brought sorrows, hopelessness and regrets to thousands of Nigerian workers who subscribed to the housing scheme with the hope to own a house each. Many of the subscribers are now housed in abject poverty and squalor having lost their life’s savings to a housing scheme that never be. The bribe of 1.4 million dollars as alleged to have been collected by the former President of the Congress, Comrade Abdulwaheed Omar from the Managing Director of Kriston Lally, Mustapha Madawaki, under the alleged guise of using the bribe money to settle the National Administrative Council of the Congress so as not to involve other developers could not have come and gone without the active knowledge and involvement of the Treasurer who was party to the creation of separate bank account for the housing scheme without being a signatory to the account hence preparing the scheme for premeditated failure. 

Comrade Ayuba Wabba’s subsisting position as the Chairman of the Housing Committee of the Nigeria Labour Congress left much to be desired as this confirmed his involvement and culpability in the housing scam that had, for the first time in the history of labour movement in Nigeria, made the picketer to be picketed and taunted to the arrant insolence of the collective sensibility and soul of the nation and its workers. Under the nose of the Comrade Abdulwaheed Omar’s Congress, Comrade Ayuba Wabba served as the Chairman of the Casualization Committee of the Congress with casualization of millions of Nigerians bourgeoning uncontrollably and astronomically.

Added to all the foregoing, it is on record that Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU), an umbrella to which Wabba’s MHWUN proudly belongs went on nation-wide strike for three straight months and resumed work without any of its demands being conceded to by the federal government. This is exemplary of negotiation at its worst!

It is most unfortunate that Unity Forum’s binding verdict to the Congress was patently bastardized by sheer desperation and wanton disregard to peaceful alternate ascension to the mantle of the Congress between the public and private sector as it has been the case past few leaderships ago in the Congress. How it is wished that there still exist the likes of Comrades Ali Ciroma, Hassan Sunmonu, Pascal Bafyau and Adams Oshiomhole who faced and stilled the tide by insisting on integrity, strong solidarity, morality, dispassionate comradeship and truth at all times. The deeds and lofty ideologies of these honourable Comrades shall live with and after them for a long time.

Comrade Abdulwaheed Omar, whose eight year tenure as president of the Congress is believed to be marked by palpable docility, complacency and lull, has been adjudged in many quarters to have deliberately railroaded the Congress election into the wood by scrapping the report of the Conference Credentials Committee at the floor of the inconclusive conference and refusing to dissolve his administration before the commencement of the election as known to practice. The fact that he went into conducting the election without first of all dissolving his cabinet left almost everybody in thrall and in doubt of his sincerity.  

With the woes that have characterized the leadership of Abdulwaheed Omar and the treasurership of Ayuba Wabba, it is very apparent that the thoughts of Lance Secretan, insightful and provocative teacher and American, has been kept in cruel abeyance: “leadership is not so much about technique and methods as it is about opening the heart. Leadership is about inspiration and of others. Great leadership is about human experiences, not processes. Leadership is not a formula or a program. It is a human activity that comes from heart and considers the heart of others. It is an attitude and not a routine.”

Now that the veterans and past leaders of the Congress have all swiftly come to the rescue of the Congress by assisting to broker a way forward, prevailing on Comrade Omar to do the right thing, and fixing March 12, 2015 to finish the unfinished election, it appears that hope is not completely lost on the Congress and its gladiators to salvage the soul of Africa’s largest and most authoritative, member and ideology-driven non-governmental organization and hope of the Nigerian worker. 

March 12, no doubt, is a date with destiny that will be remembered and celebrated according as it is utilized by all concerned comrades either to reclaim and restore the Congress to sound footing or to debase and desecrate its soul and pride the more (may God forbid). For those of us who have the genuine love of the labour centre at heart, it is our unrelenting supplication to the immovable mover of the universe to  bring to NLC leadership the man whose heart is after Nigerian workers’ emancipation so that the labour of our heroes past will never be in vain.  

‘Segun Esan writes from Lagos


WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners



…Stresses the need for timely disbursement of N44.6billion CVFF***

Highly revered Nigerian Maritime Lawyer, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Igbokwe has urged the Nigeria Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA) to partner with ship owners and relevant association in the industry to evolving a more vibrant merchant shipping and cabotage trade regime.

Igbokwe gave the counsel during his paper presentation at the just concluded two-day stakeholders’ meeting on Cabotage waiver restrictions, organized by NIMASA.

“NIMASA and shipowners should develop merchant shipping including cabotage trade. A good start is to partner with the relevant associations in this field, such as the Nigeria Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA), Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Oil Trade Group & Maritime Trade Group of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

“A cursory look at their vision, mission and objectives, show that they are willing to improve the maritime sector, not just for their members but for stakeholders in the maritime economy and the country”.

Adding that it is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a through briefing and regular consultation with ships owners, in other to have insight on the challenges facing the ship owners.

“It is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a thorough briefing and regular consultations with shipowners, to receive insight on the challenges they face, and how the Agency can assist in solving them and encouraging them to invest and participate in the maritime sector, for its development. 

“NIMASA should see them as partners in progress because, if they do not invest in buying ships and registering them in Nigeria, there would be no Nigerian-owned ships in its Register and NIMASA would be unable to discharge its main objective.

The Maritime lawyer also urged NIMASA  to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)that currently stands at about N44.6 billion.

“Lest it be forgotten, what is on the lips of almost every shipowner, is the need to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (the CVFF’), which was established by the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act, 2003. It was established to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity, by providing financial assistance to Nigerian citizens and shipping companies wholly owned by Nigerian operating in the domestic coastal shipping, to purchase and maintain vessels and build shipping capacity. 

“Research shows that this fund has grown to about N44.6billion; and that due to its non-disbursement, financial institutions have repossessed some vessels, resulting in a 43% reduction of the number of operational indigenous shipping companies in Nigeria, in the past few years. 

“Without beating around the bush, to promote indigenous maritime development, prompt action must be taken by NIMASA to commence the disbursement of this Fund to qualified shipowners pursuant to the extant Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (“CVFF”) Regulations.

Mike Igbokwe (SAN)

“Indeed, as part of its statutory functions, NIMASA is to enforce and administer the provisions of the Cabotage Act 2003 and develop and implement policies and programmes which will facilitate the growth of local capacity in ownership, manning and construction of ships and other maritime infrastructure. Disbursing the CVFF is one of the ways NIMASA can fulfill this mandate.

“To assist in this task, there must be collaboration between NIMASA, financial institutions, the Minister of Transportation, as contained in the CVFF Regulations that are yet to be implemented”, the legal guru highlighted further. 

He urged the agency to create the right environment for its stakeholders to build on and engender the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders.

“Lastly, which is the main reason why we are all here, cessation of ministerial waivers on some cabotage requirements, which I believe is worth applause in favour of NIMASA. 

“This is because it appears that the readiness to obtain/grant waivers had made some of the vessels and their owners engaged in cabotage trade, to become complacent and indifferent in quickly ensuring that they updated their capacities, so as not to require the waivers. 

“The cessation of waivers is a way of forcing the relevant stakeholders of the maritime sector, to find workable solutions within, for maritime development and fill the gaps in the local capacities in 100% Nigerian crewing, ship ownership, and ship building, that had necessitated the existence of the waivers since about 15 years ago, when the Cabotage Act came into being. 

“However, NIMASA must ensure that the right environment is provided for its stakeholders to build and possess the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders. Or better still, that they are solved within the next 5 years of its intention to stop granting waivers”, he further explained. 

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Breaking News: The Funeral Rites of Matriarch C. Ogbeifun is Live



The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured



…As Valles Steamship Orders 112,000 dwt Tanker from South Korea***

A wind farm supply vessel and a cargo ship collided in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday leaving 15 injured.

The Cyprus-flagged 80-meter general cargo ship Raba collided with Denmark-flagged 31-meter wind farm supply vessel World Bora near Rügen Island, about three nautical miles off the coast of Hamburg. 

Many of those injured were service engineers on the wind farm vessel, and 10 were seriously hurt. 

They were headed to Iberdrola’s 350MW Wikinger wind farm. Nine of the people on board the World Bora were employees of Siemens Gamesa, two were employees of Iberdrola and four were crew.

The cause of the incident is not yet known, and no pollution has been reported.

After the collision, the two ships were able to proceed to Rügen under their own power, and the injured were then taken to hospital. 

Lifeboat crews from the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service tended to them prior to their transport to hospital via ambulance and helicopter.

“Iberdrola wishes to thank the rescue services for their diligence and professionalism,” the company said in a statement.

In the meantime, the Hong Kong-based shipowner Valles Steamship has ordered a new 112,000 dwt crude oil tanker from South Korea’s Sumitomo Heavy Industries Marine & Engineering.

Sumitomo is to deliver the Aframax to Valles Steamship by the end of 2020, according to data provided by Asiasis.

The newbuild Aframax will join seven other Aframaxes in Valles Steamship’s fleet. Other ships operated by the company include Panamax bulkers and medium and long range product tankers.

The company’s most-recently delivered unit is the 114,426 dwt Aframax tanker Seagalaxy. The naming and delivery of the tanker took place in February 2019, at Namura Shipbuilding’s yard in Japan.

Maritime Executive with additional report from World Maritime News

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