• Between NLC and Labour Party

    Between nlc and labour party - nigeria newspapers online
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    The recent face-off between the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and a faction in the leadership crisis of the Labour Party (LP) is worrisome considering the negative connotations the rift elicited for both the labour union and the political party. Although the NLC has repeatedly asserted its custodianship over the party which it formed and registered to provide an alternative platform for political participation based on a set of ideals in the contest for power, the leadership of the union should be cautious so as not to deepen the woes of the party which has been embroiled in internal crisis soon after the 2023 general election.

    Notwithstanding the thin line between activism and politics which may have informed the overt intervention of NLC leadership in its desire to guard against perceived sharp practices in the Labour Party, the fact remains that a protracted crisis would degrade the party further and make it less formidable with overriding negative implications for electoral fortune. Whatever the persuasion, the primary mandate of the NLC, as the defender of the rights and welfare of Nigerian workers, demands caution against partisan politics, which should be left to politicians. To this extent, the NLC may have to undertake deeper reflection regarding its roles as a critical stakeholder in the affairs of the Labour Party. While the NLC may have taken the right decision with the formation of the party, an emerging scenario in the political terrain of the country calls for deeper reflection on the partisanship or otherwise of the NLC and its leadership so as not to unduly misconstrue the good intention of its leadership.

    It has become expedient for the NLC to be more diplomatic in delving into the leadership crisis of the Labour Party, considering that the overwhelming majority of the party’s adherents are not members of the NLC. Even more instructive is that the majority of the NLC members across affiliate unions are neither registered as members of the Labour Party nor likely to demonstrate loyalty to the party or preference for its candidates in elections. Truth be told, beyond the Labour Party’s registration certificate in possession of the NLC, the leadership of the union appears not to have done much to assert its legitimate claim as the custodian of the party in terms of membership control and as it pertains to adding electoral value to the party.

    It, therefore, came across as unpleasant to many Nigerians that Mr Joe Ajaero’s leadership of the NLC took a plunge into the leadership controversy in the party at a time when the NLC is faced with the enormous challenge of engaging with the government that appears determined to undermine the credibility of the union as a robust platform for championing the struggle for improved welfare for the workers, and by extension the generality of the masses. It is, therefore, our view that the NLC president needs to be sensitive to negative public perception concerning the involvement of his leadership in the internal politics of the Labour Party, considering the far-reaching implications for its role as the umbrella body of the Nigerian workers.

    While the NLC would appear justified to assert its legitimacy as a corporate stakeholder in the Labour Party, we cannot overemphasise the fact that the union has not sufficiently demonstrated the strength of its stake in the party through superior control of the membership. Internal democracy within a political party is underpinned by the strength of membership which further underscores the catchphrase, ‘politics is a game of numbers’. One would have expected the NLC to be more interested in leveraging its mass-oriented appeal to strengthen the membership of the Labour Party since its formation. It probably would have been a different case altogether if the rank and file membership of the party is substantially composed of union members across the country.

    How the NLC intends to assert its otherwise well-thought-out ideals of political participation in the party and also ensure that members of the party operate within the limit and confine of principled politicking remains only a mere wishful thinking and would, most probably, end up as a utopia in the peculiar political environment prevalent in the country. There is no denying the fact that every labour party across the world derives its core mandate from the vision of the labour movement. Nevertheless, the NLC must accept the reality that control of political platforms, and ultimately, meaningful participation in the political process is beyond highfalutin rhetoric and fleeting commitment to membership mobilisation and organising the platform for electoral contests.

    There is, therefore, no doubt that the story or fortune of the Labour Party would probably be better told today if the NLC had taken more than the visceral commitment to active engagement in the affairs of the political party it midwifed rather than pretending it could assert effective control of it by merely laying claim to the formation. It remains a major contradiction that while the apex leadership of the NLC takes delight in asserting ownership of the Labour Party, core leaders and influential members of the NLC across the states of the country are more active as stakeholders in the opposition political parties. The challenge, therefore, is how the NLC can effectively manage its role as defender of the rights and welfare of Nigerian workers while professing the ownership and control of the Labour Party, which is in opposition to dominant political parties at the centre and overwhelming majority of the states across the country.

    The current NLC leadership runs the risk of courting misrepresentation of its well-intended struggle on behalf of the Nigerian workers if it fails to strategically manage its stake in the Labour Party by avoiding overt politicking which may connote meddling in the leadership squabble of the party which ought to be determined through a democratic system of selection. It is, therefore, imperative for the NLC leadership to conduct its relationship with the party in such a way that the party will remain a viable vehicle for a contest for political power while the NLC remains a robust platform for demanding better welfare packages for workers and the masses at large.

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