The President General of the Maritime Workers union of Nigeria (MWUN) Comrade Adwale Adeyanju, speaks on being honoured by the four arms making up the Union, for re-election. He shares his experiences on what it takes to successfully manage people, as he counts responsiveness as key. Over the years in this position, the Union has enjoyed a great deal of sanity unlike what it used to be, especially when the elections draw close. For that reality of peace, the Union will be having its election in Lagos,after many years of holding in other locations. And as has become known with him, Adeyanju upholds the welfare of the workers and vows that it is for that course he would remain dignified and leave a lasting legacy.
The full interview
The MWUN’s elections are close, have you declared your intention to contest?
This is the first time in 40 years that the four arms of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN); Shipping, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), the Seafarers, the Dockworkers will unanimously endorse a particular candidate to re-contest in the election for the position of the PG.
I think it is an honour bestowed on me by them. So, I need to accept it with the same honour. It is a marching order from them. Since they found me worthy of contesting for the second term, there is no how I am going to say no. I never asked for it, they asked me to continue. So, it an honour and a sign of respect given to me by them.
Is there any other person contesting for the same position?
For now, I have not heard any dissenting voice that maybe someone else is coming.
Where will the election hold?
For the first time in the history of the Union as well, it will hold in Lagos. Before now, our Delegate Conference used to come with a fight. But this time around, we want to prove to the whole world that we can hold our election in our headquarters in Lagos. We want to let people know that the Union has come of age and there is no how we would go back to what it used to be in the past, when two contestants for a position would not greet each other or even have friendly moments together. At such times many souls would have been lost.
Previous elections held in Uyo, Port Harcourt, Benin alternating the location. But, this time around we decided it should be in Lagos. And it is the first time. We always took the elections out of Lagos because of the peculiarity involved. This time around everybody agreed it should be done in Lagos, to let the world know that there is sanity, there is stability in the Union, so that the soothsayers would be convinced that the era of giving maritime workers names as thugs, is over.
What is your point of satisfaction as PG, considering what you were able to do in 2020 in spite of the Covid19 lockdown?
First, I am grateful to God. The satisfaction is that the covid19 did not attack any of our member. Because the covid19 had hit any of our member the port would have been in a mess. I am also satisfied because we did not relent on going out to see how their work environments were and how they worked. You know that if the covid19 had attacked any one dockworker then, thousands of dockworkers would likely have been affected as well.
How far have you revisited the discussions with the shipping companies again over issues concerning the workers under the shipping chapter?
It is still going on. Though they are trying to run away because of the covid19 pandemic, but we maintain our stand on the emergency we declared against the shipping industry. They just wrote to us that we should give them time that some of their partners just returned from holidays and we say no problem. We believe in dialogue and would not fire them for now. But after our conference something will come out. And this is tentatively on 26th of March.
How did you achieve unity and peace among everybody, even as the elections are coming?
I will attribute it to the manner of approach to issues. The way I think I need to express myself can be different from your point of view. I felt that there was need to be an insider before you become a leader in the Union. So, as an insider who grew from grass to grace, I think I know all the methods to be applied. And what are the methods -security of life, because those who were even against my election, bringing forward cases in the court, the police, what we did was to bring everybody together. The moment I won the last election, I told them that both the good, the bad and the ugly, we are going to work together. So, we are all working together. So, the suspicion of being removed from a position was not there. I threw it open that this is your job, let us do it together in other to move the industry forward, and everybody accepted. That is the peace everybody is enjoying today. If I had allowed that the ‘winner- takes- all’ attitude, by now, it would have become a problem, with infighting. Even those who came to attack me at home then, I forgave them and today they are championing the campaign for my re-election. So, you need to forgive, no matter where you find yourself. That was what brought the sanity and stability everybody is enjoying today.
How will you describe the maritime worker union member of today?
Members of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria today are people you can deal with without any problem, unlike before when we suspected ourselves. We have built confidence in ourselves and the era of fighting and disagreements is no longer there. Now, it is dialogue. The principles of negotiation is dialogue. If you dialogue with management they would see reasons with you. If you don’t agree, you disagree and you still come back to the drawing table. This time around, there should be 100 per cent confidence in the union members.
What other things should people expect from you, knowing that you have achieved so much in your first tenure?
It is to improve on what have been laid down – the CBA of workers, it is very important. We are at the verge of reviewing that of the dockworkers and we have been having issues of the pandemic. But for the past three years the dockworkers have not made any noise. What we did was to ensure that we enabled peace to reign first. It is when you have peace that you talk of negotiations. Now we have started the negotiation for dockworkers, for the review of their CBA. The training programme, we need to improve on it. It will come through the office of NIMASA, which is our regulating agent.
When I came in newly, I met on my table the issue of the Harbour Bill that would have put thousands of the NPA staff out of work. That is part of my achievement, and today nobody is talking about it again. I appreciate the MD of the NPA who gave us the support too.