By Barth Ndubuwah, Port Harcourt
There are strong indications that the internal crisis that has engulfed the rank and file of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Pensioners Welfare Association may come to an end soon. This is courtesy of the constitution of a 5-man Committee headed by Ali Imam Umaru by the Management of NPA to broker peace among the members.
In line with that, the Committee has embarked on peace tour of all the branches of the Association across the country to reconcile aggrieved members.
Speaking with journalists recently after such meeting in Port Harcourt, Umaru said the Committee is on the verge of restoring total peace in the Association. According to him, “having visited Abuja, Calabar, Abia, Owerri and settled them and with Port Harcourt about to be settled, we are confident that the crisis that has rocked the Association since 2008 will soon be a thing of the past. Gathering our members alone in Port Harcourt to listen and discuss with the Committee on the way forward is an achievement,” Umaru said.
Recalling the genesis of the whole problem, the Interim National President said, “the problem started in 2008 when some members who were sanctioned for committing certain offences went to court instead of apologizing as requested by the Management. Court backed them to conduct illegal elections, leading to the current factionalization. So these Executives were not recognized by the Management. But with the appointment of the 5-man Reconciliatory Committee headed by my humble self, the crisis will soon become history. We are making progress, you can see that members are now attending meetings,” Umaru explained.
The Committee which he said started work in May,2018, has visited and reconciled Abuja, Calabar, Abia, Owerri and Port Harcourt branches. According to him, the trip will take them to Onne, Bayelsa and back to Lagos. Umaru expressed confidence that by the time the Committee is through with its tours, total peace would have returned to NPA Pensioners Welfare Association nationwide.
Adding his voice to the issue, the Secretary General of the Association, Ambrose Ikechukwu Duru, who put their membership strength at 8,000 described “Port Harcourt Branch as very important to us. Port Harcourt is a cosmopolitan town after Lagos, so it is very important to us. For the fact that we have reached this level of members attending meeting shows that we are making progress in the reconciliatory mission. Our mission is to reconcile every faction of the Association,” he said.
Earlier the Port Harcourt Interim Branch Chairman, Mazi Godwin Orji had admonished members to refrain from rumour mongering, which he said will only further divide the Association. He also cautioned the members on the need to refuse paying illegal levies to those he described as unscrupulous and mischievous pensioners, pointing out that the only authorized legal fee is the N5,000 secretariat rent levy, which he said should be paid at the Association’s office in Port Harcourt