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MHWUN hands over PSI Coordination to NULGE

Medical and Health Workers’ Union of Nigeria (MHWUN) handed over the coordination of the Public Services International in Nigeria to the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) on November 11, at the Ayuba Wabba House, Abuja. At the well-attended National Coordinating Committee meeting summoned for this purpose, Comrade Biobelemoye Josiah, the MHWUN National President expressed the union’s heartfelt appreciation of the support rendered to the union since it took up the mantle of PSI leadership in the country once again, on March 4, 2013. He also saluted the sagacious efforts of Comrade Marcus Omokhuale, who as Secretary General of MHWUN served as the NCC Chairperson for two and a half years.

In his valedictory speech, Comrade Marcus Omokhuale observed that there were great expectations from MHWUN when it took up coordination in 2013 due to its pioneering role in coordinating the PSI in Nigeria at the beginning of the century. While the union had not met some of the targets it set and proposed to the NCC, he was grateful that virtually every member of the NCC commended the giant strides made. The camaraderie and splendour with which the NCC had hosted: the PSI General Secretary, Sister Rosa Pavanelli, the 2014 Sub-regional Advisory Committee (SUBRAC) meeting and the 2015 Africa Strategic Think Tank meeting, he said, had won us as a country, great accolades.

The successes of the migration research project and the project aimed at addressing the challenges faced by public sector workers in the north eastern conflict-ridden zone which is about to commence, were also pointed out as being hitherto unheralded within the NCC. He however also hinted at a major reason why the capacity-building workshops, leadership retreats and NCC publications envisaged at the beginning of his stewardship were not consummated: the busy schedules of National Presidents and General Secretaries of the unions, as NCC members.

There is thus the need, he stressed, for the NCC leadership to give full support to the Education Officers, comprising the Project Management Committee of the NCC, for them to drive the process of PSI activities in the country with leadership’s mandate. If this is done, he said, much more could be achieved.

Comrade Sani Baba, the PSI East and West (English-speaking) Sub-regional Secretary was full of praises for MHWUN’s leadership of the NCC, saying that the profile of Nigeria within the PSI family globally had soared to great heights in the period. He further commended the NCC affiliates for increasing membership and consequently the leap in affiliation dues from Nigeria, as well as increasing in numbers with the recent inclusion of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) as a Nigerian affiliate.

The new NCC Chairperson, Comrade Joshua Irapakob, thanked the PSI NCC for the confidence reposed in NULGE with the unanimous decision to hand over of the NCC Secretariat to his union. He gave his word that NULGE will do everything possible to keep the flag flying, assuring NCC members of the full commitment of his union to providing leadership in this period which leads to the 2017 World Congress in Vienna.

The Public Services International is the Global Union Federation (GUF) which represents 20million working women and men in 150 countries and territories across the world. Formed in 1907 on the side lines of the Socialist International’s Conference in Stuttgart, it has grown from being representative of public sector unions in Europe and the Americas to becoming a major voice for workers across the world in the public interest.

Relations between public sector unions in Nigeria and the GUF were suppressed by the military junta of General Sani Abacha in the mid-1990s. MHWUN was pivotal to the re-establishment of these ties when it seized the bull by the horns in 2011 in a letter to the then Vice President of PSI for the Africa and Arab Countries region, Brother John Akoto, who was at the time, the General Secretary of the Heath Services Workers’ Union of the Trades Union Congress of Ghana.

MHWUN galvanized the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE), Nigeria Civil Service Union (NCSU) and NULGE to constitute the NCC (comprising National Presidents, General Secretaries, Women Committee Chairpersons and Education Officers) in Nigeria on June 12, 1993. With this background, Comrade J.A. Ogunseyin (MHWUN Secretary General, April 3, 2000-October 25, 2003) emerged as the first NCC Chairperson. The NCC has now grown to encompass 10 public sector unions: MHWUN, AUPCTRE, NULGE, NCSU, NASU, NANNM, NUEE, AAEUN, NUCSASW and JUSUN.