PTD delegate’s conference: Dafinone exposes threats, intimidation, harassment against delegates

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One of the elders of Petroleum Tanker Drivers, PTD, branch of Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, in Warri Zone, Chief (Mrs.) Blessing Dafinone has raised alarm over threats being made against delegates for the forth coming National Delegates Conference of the union to comply or face forceful exit from the union by some powers that be in the union.
To this end, she called for an open secret ballot to be used during the conference of the union to be held in Lagos, first week of July stating that their clandestine moves to foist members to make choices against their wishes is totally unacceptable to majority of its membership.
According to her, “For this PTD election to be free, fair, credible, transparent and acceptable, it’s conduct must be done with the use of an open secret ballot, which every delegate will write their choice on a piece of paper so that no one else knows how they have voted. As we speak, there are complaints of intimidation and victimization of delegates and the only way to curb that will be through open secret ballot, without fear or favor. They should please not send us back to the trenches.”
She lamented that a union, which had time without number accused management of different oil and gas companies in the country of stopping their members from being willfully unionized, is the same union that is foisting on its members to make choices against their wishes. “They are also building forces to support some particular candidates and threatening delegates to comply or face forceful exit from the union and this is not only unacceptable but criminal in nature.”
The Urhobo born trade unionist who is also a politician told journalists at Radisson hotel, Ikeja, Lagos, recently, that: “The judiciary has given the PTD Branch of NUPENG a fresh opportunity to reelect its new national executives that will reflect the wishes and support of the majority without rancor and this has been scheduled for Wednesday, July 3, 2024. Therefore, no element within PTD or NUPENG must be allowed to truncate this process. All interested parties must perish their biases, sentiments or desperation. Power belongs to God and He is the only one that gives it, no matter how anyone struggles to get it.
It is really disappointing to hear that in Lagos Zone for example, identity cards belonging to Zonal Executives who are supposed to be delegates or eligible voters on the day of election have been forcefully retrieved from them by the Zonal Chairman, Saheed Gbolahan Adigun, and these grown up union executives are also being compelled to be sleeping in the Zonal secretariat against their wishes.
“This is abduction in disguise. The psychological and emotional trauma currently being experienced by them is totally unbearable, and this is unfortunately making them to feel less human and completely depressed and unhappy. This intimidation must stop, you don’t foist leadership on people, from all indications these power mongers have learnt no lesson, which is a total affront on the rule of law.
NUPENG owes all its branches including PTD the duty of conducting a hitch-free election, and therefore, if anything goes wrong, be it violence orchestrated by the thugs, or low voters’ turn out, it will amount to leadership failure on their part which will be unacceptable. While I do not dispute the fact that much depends on the electoral umpire to deliver a free, fair and credible election, I do not subscribe to the notion that, voters must be intimidated, victimized, harassed or coerced on who to vote for on the day of election. That is why I also agree that the Ministry of Labour and Department of State Services (DSS) should both serve as umpire and returning officers on the day of the election.
To put things in their proper perspectives; a free, fair and credible election is the one in which the electorates are free to make their choices through the ballot without fear, inducement, threat, or intimidation from anyone. While a fair election is one in which, all contestants are given a level playing field to compete without anyone enjoying any undue advantage over the other(s). And a credible election is the one which process is steep in transparency, with the result devoid of manipulation, and underhand dealing by critical stakeholders, like some forces in PTD and in the National Secretariat of NUPENG especially the General Secretary, Afolabi Olawale, among others.”
She stated that if PTD and NUPENG as a whole want to stop electoral vices, and ensure a free, fair, and credible election at all times, the union leaders must look beyond biases and sentiments and allow the people’s choice to triumph. Every stakeholder, she continued, must play his or her roles as defined by both the constitution and public morality, without let or hindrance.
“It is appalling to still see that these people in NUPENG would form an unholy alliance to use force, harassment, victimization and emotional attack on our members at the units and zonal levels by luring them into signing an undertaking on whom to vote. This oppressive style of leadership is alien to our union and we urge the government and the public to take note of this flagrant abuse of power.”
Recall that Hon. Justice O.Y. Anuwe of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria in Abuja on Wednesday, May 29, 2024 nullified the delegates conference of PTD conducted in Ibadan and Abuja, which held simultaneously on the 31st October, 2023 and ordered a fresh and all-inclusive election.

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