BY CLETUS NGWODO
IN every organization or profession, there are leading heights. Men and women, who through unique vision, uncommon professionalism and exemplary character stand head and shoulders above their contemporaries,. And as beacon bearers, they point the way forward to a society whose values have been eroded by greed and deprivation”.
Comrade David Ofoeyeno, President, Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Delta State Chapter undoubtedly belongs to this uncommon group of men and women whose levels of commitment to their callings and choosing areas of service to humanity cannot but inspire you.
NULGE, an affiliate of the Nigeria Labor Congress (NLC) unlike other trade unions is unique in several ways. Firstly; it is a grass-root labor organization whose membership spread across all the local government councils. Secondly, its uniqueness is derived from the fact that it’s a separate tier of government with peculiar structure and, thirdly it is the only labor organization which state leadership bears the appellation, president.
Over the years, the uniqueness of NULGE has also posed a major challenge to the leadership of this body particularly in Delta State because of its configuration and other interests at play.
However, this tide was to change with the election of Comrade David Ofoeyeno , as the state president of NULGE few years ago . Since he assumed the saddle of leadership, the young labor leader has infused dynamism and panache into the union and changed its character in terms of acceptability and reputation. Today, NULGE remains one of the most vibrant labor unions in Delta State because of the man at the driving seat.
Ofoeyeno’s leadership ingenuity was to come to the fore at a special event held at Nelrose Hotel on Thursday July 19, 2012.
The event originally was designed for swearing in of the newly elected NULGE branch chairmen but the president in further demonstration of his philanthropic project through the instrumentality of his David Ofoeyeno Foundation, extended his characteristic humanitarian gesture to the retirees, widows and their wards.
Though it was billed to kick off at 10am, it did not however commence until well over 12noon as the expected special guests drawn mainly from top government functionaries were busy attending to the 47-member senate committee on review of constitution who were in Asaba, the Delta State Capital for four day retreat.
However, when it eventually started from the overwhelming crowd numbering over 20,000 persons from across the state and beyond, including the National President of NULGE , Comrade (Alhaji)Ibrahim Khaleel his vice, Comrade Jones Ofunne, State Head of Service , Sir Okey Ofili, representative of Deputy Governor . Barr. Newworld Safugha, representative of the Speaker, Delta State House Assembly, Chief (Barr.) Callistus Ibe Nwawolo, Special Adviser to the State Governor on Labor and Industrial Matters, Comrade Mike Okeme, Delta NLC Chairman , Comrade Williams Akporeha, Chief of Staff, Government House, Dr. Festus Okubor, it was apparent that NULGE has enormous reach, capacity and contact and was equally accorded the pride it richly deserves.
Speaking at the elaborate and colourful ceremony, the State Head of Service, Sir Okey Ofili, expressed delight over the wonderful initiative and commended Comrade Ofoeyeno for blazing the trail and giving a new meaning to unionism. “It is therefore important for NULGE members to pay their dues as and when due. For you have a trustworthy leader in Ofoeyeno, who besides the union platform has used his foundation to touch many lives”, he said amidst laughter.
The National President of NULGE, Comrade Ibrahim Khaleel, was unequivocal in his appreciation of NULGE and David Ofoeyeno’s collaborative initiative, describing it as the first of its kind in the history of the union.
“I want to salute the commitment of the state leadership of NULGE, we have learnt new things in Delta State. The essence of establishing any trade union is to cater for the welfare of its members. And what we are witnessing today is a practical demonstration of the leadership capacity to cater for members.
“What we are witnessing is also beyond the welfare of the members. NULGE in Delta State is advancing, moving in a high speed by even going to the extent of recognizing the members after they had left office, other organizations in the state should emulate NULGE and David Ofoeyeno foundation. Comrade khaleel added that Delta State NULGE is considered peaceful and supportive of the national secretariat, particularly in the payment of check-off dues, noting that it therefore pose a great challenge to the new branch chairmen to maintain the peace and avoid anything that would disrupt the good programme of the state leadership of the union.
In his remark, the branch Chairman, Ughelli North Local Government Area, Comrade Ijolo Omosohwo commended the state president for providing a level playing ground during the election that brought them in and promised to carry the entire members along.
Also, the branch Chairman of Uvwie Local Government Area, Comrade Charity Chunu, said she learnt a great lesson from the state leadership of the union.
She assured that the welfare of the workers will top her priority adding that she will ensure that transparency and accountability becomes her guiding principle.
One of the beneficiaries of the widows empowerment, Mrs. Ugbah Kate Nwakaego, praised Comrade Ofoeyono to high heaven, “I am so grateful for this wonderful gesture, when I was coming here, I never expected such thing, those that say the poor should not die of hunger may God continue to provide for them. Ofoeyono is God sent, God will bless him abundantly”.
From the lesson that played out last week, and the emerging reputation of NULGE across the land ,the membership of the union have come to know what it meant to have a true leader
For many months before the branch election it was apparent that the organization was heading to a rock because of rumors making the round that the president had anointed candidates. But as the months reduced into weeks and days, the picture began to look different and it became imperative to for them to their mindset and turn away from beclouded perception of the man.
According to Earl Tinge, a renowned philosopher, “there are few things in life that bring as much joy as the joy that comes in assisting another to improve his or her life.
At the end of the ceremony, 70 widows smiled home with one bag of rice and a four liters of groundnut oil each, 23 children of the widows got 20,000 each as educational empowerment while 70 retirees of the Unified Local Government Service were presented with merit award and a big standing fan and towel.
The foundation had few months ago indentified with 60 widows, family of late NURTW leader and other persons in need across the state.
BY CLETUS NGWODO