LEGAL IDEAS FORUM

UNIONISM IN NIGERIA: A SYNONYM FOR EXTORTION

The premise of democracy and a civilian administration is the foundation of the rights of the people. What then becomes the lot of the system and the people when these rights are wilfully violated with no iota of regrets? Perhaps the democracy at hand in Nigeria is shaky and has led to the non assurance of the people’s right. The people’s right now exist majorly in black and white but never in reality.
As envisaged in various legal documents the human rights of humans are pivotal and sacred and should be treated as such without which the system is headed for chaos. Among these rights is the right to freedom of association and peaceful assembly. Though this rights are different they are intertwined and mutually coexisting in most legal documents. 
The pivotal nature of this right provided a place for it in article 23 paragraphs 4 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and also article 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This right is further enshrined in Article 10 of African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and also section 40 of the 1999 constitution. All the above legal documents have overtime been ratified in Nigeria and subsequently it is enforceable.
It is however ironical to say that this right do not really exist after plethora of cases has been decided by the court concerning this matter. In the celebrated case of Agbai v. Okagbue the court held that no one can or should be forced to enter, join or belong to an association which he doesn’t want to. This ruling as however being truncated in the daily living of Nigerians. The masses who are either self employed or employees particularly market women are coerced one way or the other into joining association of their industry. If they peradventure decide not to join they are ostracized, and hated in the community. 
Recently people have been coerced by violence or threat of violence into joining associations after which they make dictatorial regulations such as telling them which day of the week to open or not to open their shops. They eventually succumb to it when a failed system is involved. If they try to obtain the use of police officers, this complicates the system as they will sue the accused on their behalf. However this is bad economic wise because the shop or office of the victim could remain in lock and keys pending the decision of the matter which more often times than not takes forever. It is pertinent to state that any individual who joins an association voluntarily is bound by the decisions of the association.
The road transport union is also a pain in the heart of many Nigerians particularly in the south west region of the country. This road union workers wilfully extort money from innocent commercial drivers and bus conductors who are working their arms out to make ends meet and upon refusal to give the money they instigate chaos and violence delaying the movement of both the bus and the passengers. This is pathetic as the road union workers in turn contribute little or nothing to their respective communities compared to the havoc they wrought. Unionism in Nigeria has been a platform for massive extortion of individuals and even stealing and committing robbery. It is however alleged that a considerable amount of these people are touts and hoodlums whose major propaganda is to cause mayhem in the society. It is also allege that several of this road union works for the government. If this allegations be true that means the government are the principal financier of chaos in the society.
The palpable and probable solution to this is for the government to create massive employment opportunities before disbanding this unions so as not to create another problem of insecurity arising from the idleness of able bodied men in the society. After disbanding, proper measures should be put in place such as a commission to hear and make swift decisions on behalf of the government issues of concern bothering the self employed or employee. Unionism shouldn’t be an avenue for extortion of members rather it should be an avenue for leverage, and edification of members.
About the author 
Awoyale Oluwapelumi is a Law student of Lead City University, Nigeria, he is a seasoned scholar and a legal Writer. He hosts various on air sessions with leadcityfm as a contribution to enlightenment and nation building. He has numerous publications to his name.  



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