By Christiana Nwaogu, Abuja
Following strong leadership provided by Nigeria, Africa has won the long quest for the removal of the vestiges of imperialism in the conduct of the affairs of the Governing Board of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
In a major push at the 331 Session of the Governing Board of the ILO currently holding in Geneva, Switzerland, Nigeria’s minister of labour and employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, who is the official Africa spokesperson, strongly canvassed and succeeded in eliciting the support of other regions to stop the overbearing role of France and Britain in the regional meetings of the ILO.
Nigeria, with the mandate of African countries, had stoically canvassed against the participation of non-members in regional meetings other than theirs, in Africa and South America, describing it as a continuation of colonisation.
Ngige, in his address on behalf of Africa Region, said:“With regards to participation in a regional meetings of a member state from another region, it bears repeating our earlier position adopting the principle that each member state would be invited as a full member to only one regional meeting, with the Governing Body having the discretion of inviting, on a case by case basis, any member state as an observer to other regional meetings.
“To continue to do otherwise is to evoke the ugly memories of the colonial era. As an independent region, our concern on the total cluster liberation of our region is well articulated in our region’s Agenda 2063. The constraint of member states with constitutional challenge should be addressed at the appropriate political forum other than at the ILO regional meetings.”
He further warned that Africa would work with independent member states of the ILO without interfering with internal sensitive sovereign constitutional matters of any member state.
LEADERSHIP Sunday recalls that the matter of restricting regional meetings to only member states within the specific geographical expression of a given region has been a long-standing battle over the years.
The disagreement is hinged on the fact that, going by the current practice which is based on the Governing Board’s decision of March 2001, France is invited to the African regional meeting as a member responsible for the external relations of the Mayotte and La Reunion, two non-metropolitan territories situated in the African Region, which are now existing as overseas departments and therefore an integral part of France.
This issue is often treated as a sensitive constitutional matter which members discuss with great caution and restraint for fear of incurring the displeasure of colonial masters – France and Britain.
Nigeria’s address on behalf of Africa Region was greeted with applause from representatives of other continents, forcing the former colonial powers to plot the frustration of the position already accepted by the majority on Tuesday, November 7 session, by seeking the postponement of decision on the matter till 2018 and introducing strange elements into the draft, to enable them continue sitting in the regional meetings of other regions in the guise of representing the interest of non-metropolitan territories.
An emergency meeting of the Africa Region was hence summoned during the session’s tea break yesterday and it was decided that Africa would oppose debate on the new draft by France and Britain or, otherwise, withdraw from further participation on the Governing Board as a protest.
According to the deputy director of press in the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Samuel Olowookere, Nigeria was again mandated to lead the debate on behalf of Africa, forcing the chairperson of the
Governing Board to adopt the Africa position as other regional groups and social partners rose in support of the position which was finally adopted as follows: that each member state would be invited as a full member to only one regional meeting, with the Governing Body having the discretion of inviting, on a case by case basis, any member state as an observer to other regional meetings; request the office to prepare for its consideration at the 332 Session, scheduled for March 2018, a consolidated version of the Rules for Regional Meetings and Introductory Note based on the guidance provided during discussion for adoption and referral to a future session of the conference for confirmation.
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