. . . You’re Blackmailing Us, Govt Fires Back
By Jude Atupulazi
The factionalisation of the Anambra State Chapter of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees, NULGE, has been blamed on the meddlesomeness of the Anambra State Government which recognizes one faction over another despite a court judgement and an election that produced a bona fide union executive in the state, so says Comrade Chudi Orakwue, factional leader of the union in Anambra State, reports Jude Atupulazi.
Speaking to Fides in Awka over the affairs of the union, Orakwue further accused the state government of paying the check-off of the other faction led by Comrade Chikwendu Adigwe, describing it as criminal, as the matter was still in court.
According to Orakwue, a caretaker committee had been set up at national and state levels following a court judgement that nullified the elongation of the tenures of national and state executives. The caretaker committees, he said, were mandated to conduct elections in states, which the Anambra caretaker committee did on November 21 last year. That election, he said, which produced a new executive led by him, was however shunned by the then Jerry Nnubia-led faction which refused to vacate office but rather went on to conduct its own election on November 29, a day after the two factions had been called to a meeting by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr Solo Chukwulobelu, to deliberate on the crisis rocking the union chapter in Anambra.
At that meeting, according to Orakwue, were the SSG, the Head of Service, the Director of DSS, the Police Commissioner and Secretary of Local Government Service Commission, as well as the SSA on Labour, among others.
At the meeting, the SSG said that government would not recognize any faction because of the court matter and the factionalisation.
‘But the next day,’ Orakwue alleged, ‘Nnubia held his own election which produced Chikwendu Adigwe. ‘On top of that, we heard that the HOS was taking Adigwe round government offices, giving the impression that it was the authentic faction, despite the SSG’s earlier statement,’ Orakwue alleged, adding that government was even paying check-off for the other faction.
But in his reaction after Fides had been directed to him by the SSG, the Head of Service, Anambra State, Barr Harry Uduh, accused the Orakwue-led faction of employing blackmail against the state government, noting that his involvement in the matter was because of his office and his responsibilities.
Admitting that both parties had been invited to a peace meeting, he said that it was resolved at that meeting that since the state NULGE had already fixed a date for elections, they should go and do the elections.
Uduh said the state government was invited to be part of the biennial conference that ushered in the elections, noting that it was also attended by relevant stakeholders, including the Orakwue faction, even though they said they were there to observe.
Uduh said after the election, the new leadership led by Adigwe visited him on appointment and had since then been touring the entire local councils in the state.
Reacting to the claim by the Orakwue faction that they held their own elections, the HOS said there were processes for such and that he was unaware that they held any election.
‘However, if they say there’s a faction, good; they’re free to either recognize or not recognize any leadership,’ the HOS said, noting that up till that moment, the Orakwue group had not come to him as the other one did.
‘The thing they have been doing is to canvass sentiments. I have no business with NULGE elections. Most importantly, I don’t pay check-off. It is the Accountant-General that does so and in the case of the local government, it is the JAC that does it,’ Uduh explained.
But the Orakwue faction is adamant that the state government is taking sides.
Said he, ‘Government should not take sides and they should stop paying check-off to the other faction. The matter is still in court. It is criminal to be paying them check-off,’ Orakwue insisted.