The Nigeria Labour Congress [NLC] was formally constituted as the only national federation of trade unions in the country in 1978. Before then, four labour centres existed. These are Nigeria Trade Union Congress [NTUC], Labour Unity Front [LUF], United Labour Congress [ULC] and Nigeria Workers Council [NWC]. The emergence of the NLC ended decades of rivalry and rancour involving the four centres and unions affiliated to them. The unions, numbering over 1,000 were also restructured into 42 industrial unions.
The organisation has had a chequered history, surviving two instances of dissolution of its national organs and consequent appointment of state administrators. The first was in 1988 under the military regime of General Ibrahim Babangida. Congress’ opposition to the anti-people Structural Adjustment Programme incensed the military administration to take over the NLC.
The second military intervention was in 1994 during the regime of General Sani Abacha, whose government also became fed up with the labour movement’s agitation for the restoration of democracy. Like the initial case, the military government dissolved NLC’s National Executive Council and appointed a Sole Administrator. The same treatment was meted to the two unions in the oil and gas industry; National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers [NUPENG] and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria [PENGASSAN]. However, the administrators apparently added a further brief they plundered the finances of Congress and the two unions.
The dissolution exemplified the travails of Congress, its leadership, affiliates and state councils, under military rule. Arbitration, prolonged and unlawful detention of labour leaders, invasion and disruption of union meetings, seminars and other activities of Congress and its components by security forces and a vicious anti-labour campaign by the state generally marked the period. The military also invoked its legislative prerogatives to unleash all manner of legislation to check the activities of unions. For instance, under General Abacha, a decree that banned a section of the movement from holding leadership position in Congress came into effect.
However, with the death of General Abacha, the unions reclaimed Congress, culminating in a National Delegates Conference held on January 29, 1999. The leadership led the NLC from 1999 – February 2007 headed by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
Abdulwahed Ibrahim Omar became the President of NLC from February, 2007- 2011.
On March 1-3 2011, the Nigeria Labour Congress held its 10th National Delegates’ Conference at a decisive moment in the life of our great country and the annals of human kind with the theme: Building A New Nigeria: The Role of the Working Class Towards National Transformation
Consequent upon the successful conduct of the 10th Delegates’ Conference of the Congress, the following National Officers were elected in a most transparent election as members of the National Administrative Council (NAC) of the Congress