Unless we want to deceive ourselves, the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) is a vital part of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), and in all honesty, it had in the past played a prominent role in the various struggles for a just and equitable society and the building of the nation state called Nigeria.
The vibrant union also played vital role in the struggle for democracy, therefore the current rupture we are witnessing in the Lagos chapter of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, is uncalled for and grossly unnecessary.
The background to the current crisis is located in the alleged refusal of the then Oluomo -led Lagos chapter of NURTW to allow the sub group within the union, the Tricycles Owners and Operators Association of Nigeria,(Lagos chapter) to operate independently as had been the case before the accession of Alhaji Musiliu Akinsanya popularly called MC Oluomo to the chairmanship of the union.
All efforts by the national headquarters in Abuja to make MC see reason was unsuccessful, which out of frustration with his intransigence led the national headquarters to suspend him initially before he was expelled.
Upon expulsion, he claimed to have pulled the Lagos chapter out of the national body.
Surprisingly, the Lagos State government appointed him chairman of the Parks Authorities, which in the real terms has effectively returned him to his duty post .
After the appointment, there has been attack on members of the Tricycles Owners and Operators Association (TOOAN ) in Fagba/ Iju ishaga axis.
Lagos State government has performed above expectations and should be commended for this extraordinary feat, especially in infrastructure and the management of COVID-19 pandemic among others, but it would seem it took hasty decision regarding the appointment of Oluomo, a pointer to this was the groundswell of opposition to the appointment from individuals and organisations.
One particular organization, Anti-Corruption and accountability Civil Society Organizations, the Human & Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre), had earlier disapproved the appointment of Mr. Musiliu Akinsanya, as the chairman of the newly constituted Parks and garages Management Committee of Lagos State by the governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, to manage and oversee the commercial Motor Parks and garages in the state.
We recall that the the groups in a statement it issued and signed by their Directors said the appointment was illegal on the premise that there is as of now any known law in Lagos State that backs the appointment.
The group argued that the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) says the management of all parks, garages and bus-stops within the State falls under the purview of the Local government Councils, and not the state government.
Referring to Section 1(e) of the fourth Schedule to the 1999 constitution of federal Republic of Nigeria (as altered) which provides thus: “The main functions of the local government council are as follows: (e)Establish maintenance and Regulation of slaughter houses, slaughter slabs, Markets, “Motor Parks” and Public conveniences (emphasizes ours), the group alleged.
The groups commended the motive behind the committee of the state government “To Ensure that activities and events of NURTW does not / are not allowed to threaten the law and order in the state, however, the civil society organizations pointed that the Lagos State Parking Authority Law provides for a Chairman and a six (6) members only, of the Authority; therefore, constituting a 25 – member committee contradicts the State Parking Authority Law.
“The state Parking Authority Law is clear, Section 2 (a & b) spelt it unambiguously about the composition of the Authority. More so, the position of liaison officer is unknown to the law.
“However, section 12 (1&2) of the Parking Authority law provides for a general manager who shall be the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and who shall be in charge of the general administration of the Authority and transaction of its day- to- day business”
Ever since Oluomo became the chairman of NURTW in Lagos, the peace and tranquility that subsisted during the reigns of his predecessors quickly evaporated, and he began to ticker with established norms and tradition that ensured peace to the satisfaction of all members.
His actions have crested serious disaffection among members. Before he came on board, TOOAN operated smoothly under the able leadership of Alhaji Abiola Istijabah who had through his leadership skills managed to keep the tricycles union moving without rancour.
The national headquarters has made series of peace moves and held an avalanche of meetings with Akinsanya and Istijabah,but the former was adamant and was bent on subsuming the operation of TOOAN under his own control contrary to the extant tradition.
Election is coming and we require peace, given that we have had enough security challenge, we can not afford a volatile Lagos becoming combustible again.
So, there’s need for federal government to wade in and call Akinsanya to order. No one is contesting his chairmanship of NURTW if he can retrace his step and make peace with the national headquarters in the context of refraining his supporters from disrupting the activities of TOOAN.
This should be the agenda for federal government as a way of ensuring peace in Lagos.
The best time for the federal government to wield the big stick for the sake of peace is now, since nobody is bigger than national need for peace.
This is not to say that government should arrest Mr Akinsanya, but initiate a peace meeting, tripartite in nature involving Akinsanya, Istijabah and the national headquarters of NURTW.
Jimoh Quadri wrote from Lagos