What is today known and called Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) was founded in July 1931 by the amalgamation of the first two teachers Associations in Nigeria, namely, Lagos Union of Teachers (LUT), formed in 1925 with its founding President as Rev. Canhon J.O. Lucas and the Association of Headmasters of Ijebu Schools (AHIS), led by Rev. I.O. Ransome Kuti, formed in 1926. At an inaugural meeting of the two groups held at CMS Grammar School, Lagos on 8th and 9th July, 1931, a Constitution was drafted and ratified and the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) was officially launched........ Read more

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Comrade E. Olu Abiala
Principal Assistant Secretary General (Rtd)

Being the Guest lecture at 84th Founders Day and (5th) Rev. Israel Oludotun Ransome Kuti Memorial Lecture at National Teachers House, Lugbe, FCT, Abuja. Wednesday 8th July, 2015

“One cannot but admire the foresight, determination and courage of the early leaders of the NUT – people like the late Revd I. O. Ransome Kuti; and the late Dr. Alvan Ikoku, Bishop S. Kale and that walking encyclopedia of Nigerian education history, Mr. E. E. Esua. They have surely laid a solid foundation on which the NUT is now building”1

Samuel J. Cookey
Formerly Chief Federal Adviser on Education,

May I at the outset of this presentation of “The Labour of our heroes past” appreciate the never-say-die commitment to the noble ideals of Founders Day celebrations since it started five years ago. This year’s celebration, is an impossibility made possible. Given the little storms in our cup of tea as recently witnessed; one could not but accept the stark reality of an eclipse of the celebration this year. This celebration itself is a demonstration of faith for which the leadership deserves our commendation and adoration.
Let me say, however, that the fear is not lost to me as to the implication of the invitation extended to me as the Guest Speaker of this year’s event which invitation came just last week. It caught me unaware, if not ‘embarrassed’. On a reflection, having been on the organizing side of this event since it started five years ago, I have in the exercise of my responsibility, proposed many Guest Speakers, perhaps on a “competency search”. The fear then came, I am in for a boomerang game, as this might turn to be a good measure of what I had innocently made those before me to suffer and pass through. Mr. President, I accept this invitation to my “own competency test” and with due appreciation to the regards and honour it portends. I sincerely appeal to this audience to be kind in its evaluation of this script. Time is my greatest enemy.

The Heroes in History
Today 8th July, is a day of the Heroes of our Union – the Nigeria Union of Teachers2. We remember today and for the umpteenth times, the Architect and the Midwives of the sanctity of our cradle, as a baby. Given the heroism of their forays, albeit sacrificially, they stand today as physician and therapist of our healthy growth and the horticulturist of our flowering existence. We remember today, with sweet nostalgia, The Rev. & Mrs. Ransome Kuti (the founding President Dr. Alvan Ikoku, the Revd E. O. Alayande, E. E. Esua (First Honourary Secretary) Revd Seth Ikale, (later Bishop); Archdeacon J. O. Lucas, (Vice President) T. K. Cameron and Ene Nkumo. How can we forget our cherished patriots and heroes of Northern Teachers Association (NTA) extraction: Alhaji Shetima Ajiram, Alhaji (Sir.) Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Alhaji Aminu Kano and the builder of our national edifice Dr. A. F. Ogunsola. It is my humble request to urge this house, in a solemn movement to rise in silence in honour these avatars and progenitors of our great Union. They may be dead, no doubt, they still speak in their graves. Their spirit are here with us to bless this memorial gathering.
Let me purse here, to say, the history of Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) today cannot be sufficiently documented without the contributions of the first and second generation of the survivors. They constitute part of the club of heroes for celebration any day. These would include Rev. J. A. Akinyemi who succeeded Alvan Ikoku, Chief Omoz Oarhe, Richard Asenime and Chief A. O. Ezenwa – he died as former Deputy Governor and Igwe Agbabanze of Abagana; Dr. J. O. Itotoh (1st Nigerian President of WCOTP) Chief Austine Nwokocha and Chief Brendan Ugwu. In the administrative line were F. Ade Awolana, who held the post of Secretary General for ten years; Chief S. K. Babalola, Chief Oke Osayinlolu, Chief Gabriel Falade, Chief GCI Anioke (Alias Boomaster and Vice Chancellor, University of Mamikoko), Comrade Alfred Olatunbosun Ibikunle and lately Jare Adefemi, Malam Mallum Bullum and Chief T. K. Nwachukwu to mention but few. To these heroes, nothing is more apt to describe and appreciate them better than in the words of Winston Churchill3:
“Never in the field of human endeavours is so much owed by so many to such a few”
Mr. President, without any attempt at share political grandstanding, it is contemporary heroism to have institutialized this Founders’ Day. This has been noted by Omolewa (July 8 2011)4 in his maiden lecture on this occasion when he observed:
“The NUT is thus showing a worthy example to everyone that there is need to look back to identify areas of strength and weakness, find out where one is coming from so that one can better chart a course of future development. The NUT has thus chosen a noble path and those who have taken this decision clearly deserve all commendation and profound appreciation. We should all therefore pray for the present leadership of the Union and prophesy unto them, as African elders have taught us, that it will be well with them and their own successors will also remember them in due season”.

Heroism: “They love not their own lives”5
The founding fathers of our Union had long conceived their service in the Nigeria Union of teachers, ab inito as an act of heroism. Thus, Ransome-Kuti sermonized:6
“…today, I realize that we are still in the woods, but here and there we catch the soothing sounds of friendly whispers. Big hearts are beginning to throb with sympathy for our sufferings and active interest in our welfare is gathering strength. From our noble Patron upwards and downwards – the Governor, our Legislators, the Press and other responsible men and women in the country are beginning to speak and act on our behalf. We have been extremely grateful to them all. Let our gratitude therefore take the form of more loyalty and more devotion to duty, a heroic stand for the best in the face of our misfortunes and a closer cooperation with our authorities in the struggle for better conditions in the educational life of Nigeria”
The concept of heoism exist in the context of history. It’s a “rear-mirror approach” to living7. The Yoruba ancient wisdom expressed it in these words “Bi omode ba subu, a wo iwaju, b’agbalagba ba subu eyin nii woo”. Literally it translates: “When a child falls, he immediately leaps and surge forward, when an old man falls, he looks at his back, perhaps to ask and know, why and how did I fall”. Yes, the future beckons at the young, but the old one finds wisdom in establishing a nexus between his future and the past. He guides his future, conscious of his past – the peoples, the events, the environments and the circumstances that have combined to shape the present. An author8, while identifying the heroes of his time, reviewed the orgies of their heroism:
They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the swords, they wandered about in sheepskins and goat skins, being destitute, afflicted and tormented”.
He summarized their heroism in his own words “THEY LOVE NOT THEIR LIVES” Heroism is an exercise towards martyrdom. It is often the attribute, the sacrifice and the struggle of PIONEERS. It is an anomic existentialist and survivalist approach to living and to institutional founding and building.

The Nigeria Union of Teachers: An Institution in heroism
The Nigeria Union of Teachers was born in hostile political and climatic environment. From the minutes of the NUT at inauguration, 8th July, 19319
“on the wet morning of Wednesday 8th July, 1931, nineteen delegates representing the teachers Unions’ from Abeokuta, Agege, Ibadan, Ijebu-Ode and Lagos met at the Church Missionary Society (CMS) Grammar School Hall, Lagos to form the Nigeria Union of Teachers”.
Mr. President, by my extrapolation of the event, which may likely agree with that of a reasonable man; if it is in the morning and it is wet; it must have rained, the climate must have been chilly, a very cold environment was not far fetched, so I guessed, the 19 delegates could not have paraded as mode of dressing, babaringa, or agbada or kente but possibly rain coat, suit and mufflers. Perhaps cassocks and collars, being club of Reverend Gentlemen, to beat the cold weather – a desperate act of heroism par excellence.
Politically speaking, the Nigeria Union of Teacher (NUT) was born in a legally “seditious and criminal molestation of the employers” enviroment10 so that even at founding, our heroes were already conscious, they were “potential detainees” in the hands of colonial government as it was the dictate of the common law, which treated trade Unions as seditious organization and strike as “criminal molestation of employers”11. This was the case of trade Unions in their early days and thus it has been observed”12 that while freedom of association may well be a recognized principle today, it certainly was not at the beginning of the 19th Century when the first unions were being formed and when the movement was treated as a subversion and its activities viewed as seditious”. Thus it is noted13 that:
“at the beginning of the 19th Century, trade Unions were regarded by law as illegal criminal organizations, the membership of which was to lead to dismissal at least; so the early Unions swore members to oath of secrecy.
This was evidence in Nigeria, when in 1871, a Colonial Governor, Mc Callum,14 reacting to workers protest which culminated in 3 day strike of between 9 and 11 August 1871, threatened:
“I have been brought up in different schools to my predecessors and have been accustomed to see the paramount authority of government maintained pretty severely against riotous mob and I am prepared for a view here which one sees must come”
The purport of Mc Callum’s, threat was to convey to the workers and their trade Union organization, that their protest was that of a “riotous mob” and that sovereign authority is not to be confronted or challenged without unsavoury consequences to workers and their trade Union leaders. This was the environment in which the Nigeria Union of Teachers was founded. The audacity of these leaders to dare political powers and throne, is what we are celebrating today as heroism.

Heroism: What Legacies?
Heroism presupposes that, holders are exemplars, ground breakers, epoch makers, bridge builders and legacy makers. So were heroes of Nigeria Union of Teachers’ mould. History and literatures are replete with their ground breaking exploits for which they are today celebrated as models. Foremost to their mental drives were nationalism, patriotism, professionalism, courage, knowledge, ultruistic service and brotherliness which defined their common attributes and which remain legacies to us as their survivors.

Professionalism, Welfarism and Economic Determinism
It is important to state that, even as early, the heroic leaders of Nigeria Union of Teachers were unmistakable as to what they envisioned for the Union, which can be summarized in these words “Professionalism, welfarism and Economic determinism. These were the onus of the presidential addresses of Itotoh (1986) and Nwokocha (1991)15.  The leadership vision, that of professional development of Education and teaching; the welfare of workers through promotion of improved condition of service and job security of teachers and that of providing platform for economic emancipation of this poor class of workers.
In a letter dated 25th July, 1931, addressed to the Secretary, T. K. Cameron, Rev. I. O. Ransome Kuti16, the founding President, appealed for recognition of the responsibility placed upon the shoulders of NUT leadership, when he said:
“By entrusting us in a large measure with the welfare of a large number of teachers and the difficult but pleasant work of cooperation with Education Authorities in this our beloved Nigeria… we must be aware that a richer opportunity of serving the country we love so well is hardly conceivable. Let us put our shoulder to the wheel and toil away with all our might”
Not too surprisingly, the Calabar branch of the Union sponsored a resolution which was passed by the Second Annual Conference of the Union which reads:17
“Be it resolved that the federal council take immediate states (sic) to recommend to Government the advisability of evolving an “Education Civil Service of Nigeria” which shall be based on the principle of unifying the rates of salaries and super annuation schemes for all teachers in Government and assisted schools in Nigeria as in the case of colony and protectorate of Sierra Leone”
The above resolution is significant in foundation laying of what has today become the unifying service condition of teachers with the main civil service and secondly, the comparative advantage of peer review – aligning the Union demands with contemporary realities and institutions – “as in the case of the colony and protectorate of Sierra Leone”. It is cheering to see this heroism in the resolution of the Union getting immediate response, when a month later, a favourable reply came from the Lientenant Governor’s office18 stating it was “prepared to accede to your request to appoint NUT representatives on provincial Education Committees in those areas where branches of the Nigeria Union of Teachers are established, provided that in the opinion of the Resident a suitable candidate is forth coming”. This is what Omolewa (2011) described as partnership building for which NUT was reknown at its founding.
Let me quickly advert this noble audience to the heroic foundation of partnership and synergy with other stakeholders and the impact it made on the life of the Union today. It was, that NUT established patroness with Education authorities, thus on the exit of Mr. Hussey, the Director of Education, the Union in a farewell letter enumerated several advantages from this cooperation19.
We wish to seize this opportunity of expressing our appreciation of your services to our Union as its’ patron… We are glad to note that your educational policy shows a due recognition of the importance of the opinion of teachers, a recognition which has placed the profession in a status to which it did not attain before your assumption of the directorate. We recall with gratitude, the fact that through your benign influence, seats have been allotted on several school committees to representatives of our Union”.
Apart from the early impact of the Union on professionalism and welfare of teachers, E. E. Esua’s patriotic efforts to expand the membership of the Union must not be lost, just as his heroic roles at improving the image of the Union through tapping the patronship of the political class, the royalty and the media - the “West African Pilot, Nigeria Eastern mails, Daily Service Daily Times and the coverage of the Union activities, as well as attracting opinion favourable to Unions position on education.

Legacy Carriers and Contemporary Heroism
The identification of heroism, would ordinarily be assumed to mean voluntary submission to carry the legacy of heroism; thus making the latter day leaders legacy carriers of the pioneers’.
Mr. President, the institutionalization of Founders’ Day memorial is an exercise already noted as heroic decision by Omolewa in his maiden lecture on this occasion. I must also not fail to commend the operators of the 15 Rosamond Street, who betroded the Union with landmark achievements including the stability and growth of the Union as one of the best organized trade Unions in Nigeria. No one can forget in a hurry, the Architects and builders of the National Teacher House, Lugbe, Federal Capital Territory as exemplary legacy carriers in that regard. The launching and implementation of NUT Economic Commission (NUTECOM) which gave birth to Teachers Family Welfare Package (TWIP) is no less an heroic exploit that will forever be commended. The heroic establishment of Professional Development Centre in Kaduna is all to be celebrated, just like the pioneering Teachers Community Bank in Minna and the Abraka Experiment in Students Hostel and Petrol Filling Stations by the Delta State Wing. Permit me to also salute the heroism of the establishment of Teachers Plaza in Ogbomoso, the development of Teachers’ Housing Estate in Oyo and the latest addition of NUT, sponsored “Teachers Model College” in Ibadan. No doubt, Oyo State is a hero of a state wing in Teachers welfare scheme of Social Security and cooperatives and the principle of developmental trade Unionism as a pursuit.
The successful experiment on Teachers Welfare and Endowment Scheme; and of Teachers’ Family Insurance Package (TWIP) in Imo State and the Teachers Estate in Ilorin, Kwara State make for contemporary heroism, thus re-establishing the labour of our heroes past.
I am inspired to recall, that at the inception of this regime in 2010, the current leadership demonstrated superior consciousness of its responsibilities to teachers of Nigeria and the Nigeria Union of Teachers as a legacy. While welcoming the NUT National Elders Forum (NUT-NEF), Comrade Michael Olukoya, the National President,pledged20:
“Let me sincerely pay homage to the crown of your heads. I mean the God given wisdom that has enabled you to pilot the political ship of our great Union, so harmonous, united and indivisibly one entity inspite of our diverse political interests and plural geographical descent. Ours is truly a strong “unity in diversity”. Yours is a goodly heritage that we have come today, not only to identify with but also to celebrate and deify”
The challenge to the Unity, indivisibility and harmony of our Union is a desideratum and must be jealously guided and preserved on the principle of equity, justice and fairness.
Mr. President, you sounded crystal stargazer in identifying the major problems of the Union, while not losing focus of their solutions – an exemplary quality in contemporary heroism, when you addressed the first NEC meeting and like a social pathologist, you identified the ills of this Union and their healing in these words21:
…we stand today pledging that ours is going to be a collective leadership. Your honest advice and counsel shall be catalytic imputs to our programmes of activities. Your caution and correction shall be taken in good faith. To demonstrate our desire to appropriate your collective wisdom, we have resolved to organise meetings of and consultation with stakeholders. This we believe will make a paradigm shift from the seeming aristocratic structure of the past. The meeting involving all nationally elected officers, regional leadership and staff of the Union from time to time will no doubt stand us in good stead to move us as one indivisible body, devoid of separatist culture of the past. We intend to defrost the perceived frosty relationship between the political and administrative classes; to bring about new and mutual confidence in our regional cleavages to replace mutual suspicion of the past. Together, we shall take this Union to the public and the government of the day as a major stakeholder on the national aspirations and development in so far as education and teachers’ welfare are concerned”; 
And in the latter address to the standing committee, a commitment was re-established22:
“My dear team members, I just wish to assume the captainship of this administration as primus inter pares – first amongst equals, but I hasten to assure and to implore you not to see our administration as meant for business as usual. We must aim at paradigm shift”
Mr. President, these are words on the marble which must survive beyond the soap box in terms of implementation and execution.
The contemporary heroism the foregoings purport in terms of commitment and implementation, would be nulli secundus in the annals of this Union, just like your historical partnership building with the federal authorities, your expansionist but professional prowess that has annexed teachers in federal schools and Private Institutions to the mainstream NUT they legally belongs and indeed your pioneering media relations; and the return of integrity and recognition for the Union – one that qualified it as a member of the elites club of policy and constitution making in the country as recently concluded - National Conference on Constitutional Review.

Issues and Challenges before the Legacy Carriers
At the risk of being misinterpreted, let me identify few challenges that require to be tackled to make our Union a going and growing concern; that “the labour of our heroes past shall not be in vain” 
My first observation is the need to update our official history and to make it a tracking instrument for the behaviour and performance of actors. “The Nigeria Union of Teachers; An official history”, published in 1974, to celebrate its 40th anniversary of founding, though apt, but outdated as it has eclipsed the growth and development of the Union vis a vis the many actors and their contributions in this regard in more than four decades of operation. Updating the Union official history would keep actors on their toes across epochs as leaders both political and administrative would be conscious to maintain and make positive contributions to the physical, infrastructural and programmatic growth of the Union. The NUT official history updated must emphasize the role of leadership in the interregnum towards the unity or division of the Union. It must touch on the relationship between the Central Labour Organization, the NLC and the NUT and what symbiotic relationship in terms of benefits or adversities to our Union’s vision and integrity. At this juncture, it is apt to recall the relationship between the NUT and NLC in the last decade and to express the feeling that it has not been one to be celebrated. In this context, let me commend the hero of 27.5% Teachers Special Allowance, Chief Onem Nelson Onem, who as Acting President of the Union, defied all subterfuge and discouragement from the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to step down the struggle for its attainment. It should be recalled for the records, that twice in the year 2008, during the struggle, the leadership of NLC, led by Comrade Abdulwahid Omar and accompanied by Comrade Adeyemi Peters (Deputy President) and John Odah (Secretary General) at Chida Hotel, Jabi Area of Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, unleashed pressure on the leadership of the NUT led by Comrade Onem Nelson Onem against continuing with the nation-wide strike to press home its demand for Teachers Salary Structure (TSS). At one of the meetings, the NLC leadership threatened it would no longer support the struggle as it was getting protracted and loosing its steam amongst the teachers, because the Federal Government against which the strike was declared was lukewarm and perfidious. The Onem Nelson Onem leadership stood its grounds, forcing the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) to enter into the industrial affray and eventually signed the agreement conceding the 27.5% Teachers Special Allowance which has become the gains of NUT over and above the salary package of the general civil service today. This no doubt, makes Chief Nelson Onem, an hero in the life of this Union.
We can also not forget in a hurry, the position of the NLC which supported incorrigibly the autonomy of the Local Governments in Nigeria, against the position NUT which resolved that such move would be antithetic to the welfare of Primary School Teachers in Nigeria. Indeed, in the midst of the battle, the NUT leadership had to disown the NLC leadership at a Press Conference addressed by Comrade Michael Olukoya, the National President on behalf of NUT and condemned the leadership of the NLC for betraying the Union’s trust.
The role and contributions of WCOTP inundated the outdated official history; what has been the roles of global Teachers organizations - the Education International and its affiliate African sub-region to our growth and development. The Laraforebundent, CTF, NEA, AFT and National Union of Teachers, England and Wales (NUTEW) as friendly organizations of old must bear mention interms of maintenance and sustainability of relationship. The updated official history should provide the measure of achievements, growth and development of our union under our successive Political and Administrative Chief Executive – the President and the Secretary-General. Mr. President, I mean an updated official history, will then become a guide to successive leaders, a psychological instrument to monitor and modify behaviours of actors whether political or administrative, that “the labour of our heroes past shall not be in vain”.
The second challenge I would like to observe is the strengthening of our bureauracy. An organization is as strong and dynamic as its bureaucracy which constitute its engine room. Today a yawning gap exists between the quality of our staff and efficiency in our organization. It is a parody of organizational growth and development. It is strongly advised that politicization of recruitment, the bane of bureancratic efficiency, should be avoided as much as possible. Training of carrier Unionist, is sine-qua-non to institutional development. The first and second generation of staff of this Union had privileged exposure to training attachment to friendly foreign advanced and developed Unions like Educational Association of America (NEA); the American – Federation of Teachers (AFT); Canadian Teachers Federation (CTF) and the Laraforbundet. Indeed it was reported that, E. E. Esua, the founding Secretary of NUT as early as 19th July 1934 addressed a request to British “National Union of Teachers, England and Wales (NUTEW) for possible affiliation and four weeks later, the NUTEW indicated it would accept the NUT’s application as an overseas “Associate Member”23 and this translated not only to information, logistic and legal support but also in training facilities to both the political and more importantly the staff. Mr. President, permit me to say the fleeting of all NEC members to E. I. and other International Conferences has not been much rewarding to the Union except to aggrandizing selves, in terms of the financial investment attached. A planned, staggered and regular attachment to international training centres including American Labour College, ILO International Training Centre, would offer beneficial services to the Union with enduring advantage and benefits.

Paradigm Shift
It should bear emphasis beyond political cliché that the Union’s paradigm in terms of organizational, administrative and methodological approaches must shift.
This is not to create panic, but the reality of the situation is that the challenge and threat to the existing structure of trade Unions in Nigeria is potentially consuming. Beyond the recrudescence and incursion of splinter groups, there appears an international and global threat. I had earlier warned of the objection of the ILO24 to the existing structure of the Union which it described as “legislatively imposed trade Union monopoly” and its recommendation to our national government to delete section 5(2) of the Trade Union Act. There is need to make our relationship with members truly contractual in term of offering beneficial products and services. I wish to thank the current leadership for the conception and implementation of the Teachers’ Family Welfare Insurance Package, (TWIP) under the oversight of NUTECOM which has translated to enviable success only in Imo State. Aggressive effort should be made to bring all the states of the federation into this scheme. I begin to wonder why most states remain lethargic while romanticizing and appropriating the benefit offered by ENWELL Programmes in Oyo, Niger, Kaduna, Imo Delta and lately Kwara State. Our paradigm must shift from reactive and aggressive trade Unionism to developmental trade Unionism. Mr. President, we are in the days of relative affluence, we must not forget the inevitability of the Raining days. Let’s make hey when it shines – our landed property in Victoria Island, Lagos; in Lugbe, FCT and I understand also in Asokoro FCT must not be traded off unto financial whirlwinds. They should be developed, if possible in partnership with Private Developers on concessionary terms. It makes for future economic wisdom and a unique heroism that would be spoken of eternally.
The National Head Office is yet to assume the status of a Model Head Office of the largest trade Union in the country. It is presently, a situation of “high winds, big thunder and no rain” in terms of business likeness. I mean there is much of industrial noise, without much of production. The NUT National Head Office should ideally be a Research Centre and its Library and Archival department must be professionally managed and equipped. It should be more of a Professional Centre, where laws and policies of national re-engineering in term of education should proceed to the Executive and legislative arms of government. The departmentalization with all the paraphernalia required remain a mirrage. “A chain is as strong as its weakest link” The weakest link in the strong chain of our Union is lack of fortification of the secretariat. The Head Office of our Union must be functionally structured  into division of labour with the apex Administrative leader offering effective nexus and coordination. There is need for re-organisation along specialization required to deliver both our professional and trade Union mandates.
Mr. President and distinguished audience, I shudder to invite your attention to the current economic and political mood of the nation. Earnings from the mono-economic resource of the nation has dropped due to fall in the price of crude oil in International Market and most unfortunately our workers, teachers in particular are the worst hit as victims, not to talk of the adverse effect on our check off system - the crude oil of the Unions. The war cry of Nigerians, high and low is to bemoan the high cost of governance; and the various governments of the federation are responding – merging ministries and reducing number of political hangers - on whatever name they are called; while erstwhile political gladiators in governance are being forced into self financial immolation at least on the face of it. We will do well to align the Union with the national political and economic psyche, if only to remain not only solvent, but also to release fund for investment; that “the labour of our Heroes past shall never be in vain”

Our Motto: “Service and Justice”
It should not escape my mind, God forbid, to conclude this presentation without reference to the strongest pillars on which the labour of our heroes past rested, and one that has become a bonding responsibility to us as legacy carriers, - that is our motto: Service and Justice” I guess someone will wonder why it is coming last and not on the front burner of discourse. I assumed, perhaps rightly, that our discussion so far on the “Labour of our Heroes past” resides in the domains of service and its sanctity; and our gathering today, as in the last five years, should be seen as the justice of their labour – a reward system conferred, albeit, post humously.
I reason; we must not leave here without an advocacy of similar measure to the living – the legacy carriers. There is no dispute, that whether as political officers or careerists, we are all workers-nay labourers in the vineyard of teachers service as co-pilots and drivers of NUT giant fleet; and as labourers, our rewards and wages are well deserved. I must commend the successive leadership of the union, for making the Nigeria Union of Teachers, an exemplar, institutionally in the distribution of reward system to its labour. My brother and legacy carrier as a State Secretary – Comrade Waheed Olojede has warned me, even in this hallowed chamber, to avoid the use of flattering words to describe NUT as “a Spoiler” in its reward system, I must avoid that, for I cannot afford to disobey him - He now holds the carrots and sticks to reward my ‘stubborn treachery’ even as pensioner of the Union. It pays me to be reasonable enough to be on his carrot list. The point I want to make, and I do confess it here, that “I am what I am today by the just and equitable reward system of Nigeria Union of Teachers. I owe my employer and its successive leadership gratitude in this regard. However, I must not fail to express my fears about the creeping delays, occasioning denials in the dispensation of the system to Union’s pensioners. I must reiterate that legal maxim, to conscientize the leadership that “delay defeats equity”.
Having been on the other side of the service, I must confess that a wide cap exists between the in-service and post-service material and social condition of life, in so far as Union pensioners are concerned. I want to plead passionately against the surging “delays and denials” in the reward system. Without equity, justice is hollow, rest must be made sweet after labour, and time is of essence. 
Permit me to also observe, that with pensioners, the system has become inequitable in economic realities and the system must be self-adjusting if these living founders are to be maintained, not too far away from the social ladder of their service.
I must not fail, Mr. President, still speaking in the context of service and justice, to appeal to the leadership to always keep in view our statute books in dispensing justice to membership. I mean the constitution, staff condition of service and financial instruction. They are legal instruments of justice that are actionable. Mr President, the saddest day of my service, even as a tested, hardworking staff with unbroken service and loyalty; and without offence, was the day I was downgraded from Salary Grade Level 16 to Salary Grade Level 13 to achieve a predetermined political objective, on the mischievous and malicious interpretation of the rules, that my services as Assistant Secretary and State Secretary should not be regarded as continuous. Neither can I forget in a hurry, the sponsored Kano decision that impeached our carrier service by five years against the extant contract of service, obviously to get rid of some us that were considered too stubborn to domesticate. Thank you, Mr. President, I got my years back, and with bonus, through contract appointment, but sadly, my friend and colleague - Emmanuel Eluwa could not survive it. He died of the shock of being retired with immediate effect. May His innocent soul rest peacefully in his untimely grave. Amen!. I must thank you, Mr. President and the current regime for that matter, as a Daniel come to judgment, for putting these sad stories behind us by making unbroken services seamless in carrier building and reward system and by restoring the years of the locusts. However, I must also appeal, that disciplinary action in the Union, if it will meet the demand of justice, must be prompt and timely. “Justice delayed is justice denied”. To keep any staff on suspension for too long without determining his service one way or the other, timely and promptly, will appear to defeat justice of the case.
The concept of justice, in legal jurisprudence is hinged on adherence to the letters of the law within the context of principle of “the rule of law” and of “fair hearing.25 Audi altarem patem (Hear the other side) and “nemo judex in causa sua” (You cannot preside over your own case) are the two legs to the principle of fair hearing26. The Nigeria Labour Congress recently paid dearly for non-adherence to this time honoured legal principle. Permit me to quote the judgment of the National Industrial Court in the matter of Comrade Onah v. NLC,27 not to exhibit knowledge, but to reiterate the sanctity of our Union constitution and rule book and the principle of fair hearing for our admonition and adoration.
The National Industrial Court per Adejumo B. A. in that case ruled,28
“What is more; the appointment of the Claimant (Onah) herein was summarily determined in flagrant disregard of the cardinal principles of the condition of service of the claimant as contained in the constitution of the 1st Defendant (NLC). The protection of fair hearing afforded the claimant by the 1st Defendant constitution was contemptuously jettisoned thus infringing the claimant’s fundamental human rights as guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and made part of the condition of service of the claimant by the 1st defendant’s constitution. This court cannot and will not encourage a situation whereby the constitution of this country is treated with contempt; it has sacred duty to protect and promote its observance. It will also not encourage where a labour organization will treat its condition of service with ignominy; this will be laying bad example for other employers of labour. I also agree with the claimant that his feeling have been affected negatively by action of the defendant in this case; more so when his appointment was terminated based on the false reason which has the implication of saying he has no useful skill. That is patently the implication of saying a person is sacked due to re organization, another name for redundancy I agree that he is entitled to compension to assuage this” (Bracket mine)
In an earlier case of John Odah v. NLC29 which fell on all the fours of the Comrade Onah v. NLC (Supra) although by settlement judgment, the National Industrial Court held in enrolment:
1.    “In the interest of peace and harmony in the trade Union movement, the 1st Defendant (NLC) shall not later than 31st January, 2013 by a letter under the hand of the 2nd Defendant (Comrade Abdulwaheed Ibrahim Omar) withdraw the letter dated 24th May, 2011 terminating the appointment of the claimant (Comrade John Ejoha Odah) and immediately recall and reinstate the claimant to his office as General Secretary of the 1st Defendant with full rights, benefits, and privileges appertaining to the said office from June, 2011 up to the time of reinstatement and ultimate disengagement less any outstanding indetbtedness…
2.    Accordingly, the claimant is deemed to have maintained unbroken record of service with 1st Defendant as hereinafter provided. For the avoidance of doubt, the appointment of the claimant as General Secretary of the 1st Defendant is deemed not to have been terminated at any point in time”
Mr. President, I am delighted to say NUT has never had this type of ignoble record of judgment against it in its 84 hears of its existence; but we must avoid and guide against it. The way out is respect for the laws of the land; the Union’s constitution and rule books and most importantly punctilious adherence to the rule of law and principle of fair hearing in disciplinary matters; that “the labour of our Heroes past shall never be in vain” 
Finally, Mr. President, the entire national leadership of our Union and this noble audience, the 84th Founders’ Day has been made a soul searching one and has thus been domesticated to address the Union’s challenges in the context of its founding philosophers and the philosophy of its founding. Permit me to adapt our national anthem, the context from which arises the subject matter of this year’s celebration – “The Labour of our Heroes past…”30 to suit our peculiar circumstance of this day of national revival. May we rise to sing as adapted here:
Arise O compatriots
The Union’s call obey
To fight our teachers’ rights
With love and strength and faith
The Labour of our Heroes past
Shall never be in vain
To serve with heart and might
One Union bound in freedom
Peace and Unity
Thanks for your love, patience and attention.
Congratulations and Happy Celebrations!

1.    Raymond Smyke & Dennis Storer (1974) “Nigeria Union of Teachers: Official History – (OUP) “Foreword”
2.    Ibid p.12
3.    Akinpelu J. O. (2005) “My Memorabilia, Tafale Publication Ibadan.
4.    Omolewa, Michael (2011) “Rev. Israel Oludotun Ransome-Kuti: Partnership Builder for Promoting Teachers” St. Paul’s Publishers, Ibadan.
5.    The Holy Bible (KJV) Hebrew Chapter 11
6.    Smyke & Storer (1974) op cit p.42
7.    Omolewa Michael (1983) Education through the Rear View Mirror: An Inaugural Lecture, University of Ibadan.
8.    The Holy Bible (KJV) Hebrew 11:37
9.    Minutes of the NUT, 8th July, 1931: Quoted in Omolewa Michael, “Rev Israel Oludotun Ransome Kuti: Partnership Builder for Promote Teachers, NUT 8th July, 2011
10.    Abiala, E. Olu (2012) “Trade Unions in Nigeria: Membership and Jurisdictional Scope” St. Paul’s Publishers.
11.    Gwyneth, P.H. “Employment Laws” Sweet & Maxwell Ltd, London.
12.    Ibid
13.    Ibid
14.    Abiala, E. Olu (2011) “Trade Union Laws and Practice in Nigeria: The Travails” St. Paul’s Publishing House, Ibadan.
15.    Abiala, E. O. (1991) “Nigeria Union of Teachers: Sixty Years After” M.Ed Dissertation, Faculty of Education, University of Ibadan.
16.    Smyke and Storer (1974) NUT official History op cit. pp.26
17.    Ibid p.32
18.    Ibid p.33
19.    Ibid p.45
20.    Olukoya Michael (2010) “Salute to a goodly Heritage” Being address to the meeting of NUT National Elders Forum (NUT-NEF) Tuesday 27th July, 2010
21.    Olukoya Michael (2010) “My Covenant with Teachers of Nigeria” An address at the swearing in ceremony and first NEC Meeting of the Union held at National Teachers’ House, Lugbe Abuja. July 2010
22.    Olukoya Michael (2010) “Teaming for Development and Change” An Address to the first standing committee meeting. July 2010
23.    Symke and Storer (1974) Nigeria Union of Teachers: Official History p.35
24.    ILO – Report of the Committee on Application of standards (International Labour Conference, 100th Session, June 2011)
25.    Lord Denning (1983) “The closing chapter” Oxford University Press pp.189-162
26.    Supreme Court Monthly in Danladi v. Dangiri; (2014) 12 SCM @ 81. St. Paul’s Publishing House, Ibadan.
27.    Nigeria Labour Law Report (NLLR) (2013) 33 NLLR (Part 94) @ 104
28.    Ibid p.172
29.    John Odah v. NLC, Suit No. NIC/ABJ/71/2011 Settlement judgment dated Monday 21st January, 2013
30.    Adaptation of the first stanza of Nigerian National Anthem.

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