‘Your Claim Lacks Proper Substantiation’, MESAN Tells NMNOWTSSA, Urges Association To Provide Verifiable Evidence

The Secretary-General, Merchant Seafarers Association of Nigeria (MESAN), Capt Alfred Oniye has yet again countered the response of the Nigerian Merchant Navy Officers and Water Transporters Senior Staff Association (NMNOWTSSA) which insisted that the numerical strength of its association has risen to 10,000 in the past four years.

In another counter statement issued in Lagos on Monday and made available to PLATFORM REPORTERS, MESAN statement read in full as follows:

“The NMNOWTSSA asserts that its membership exceeds 10,000. However, this claim lacks proper substantiation. As responsible citizens and stakeholders in the industry, we have the right to seek transparency and accurate information regarding the association’s membership.

Transparency and accountability are fundamental principles in any organization, especially one representing workers’ interests. Failing to provide verifiable evidence of membership numbers could raise legal concerns, including potential misrepresentation or misleading statements.

The NMNOWTSSA should adhere to relevant national labor laws and international conventions that emphasize transparency and fair representation of members.

The NMNOWTSSA labels dissenters as “mere attention seekers and impostors.” Such language is unprofessional and undermines healthy discourse.

Accusing individuals of being impostors without factual basis may constitute defamation. The association should refrain from making baseless allegations.

Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights protects freedom of expression, but it also imposes responsibilities. Name-calling can infringe on the rights of individuals to be treated with dignity and respect.

The NMNOWTSSA must demonstrate its claimed membership strength. Providing accurate records, verified by an independent audit or other reliable means, is essential.

Failure to meet this burden may weaken the association’s credibility and expose it to legal challenges.

Associations play a crucial role in safeguarding workers’ rights. Transparency ensures trust among members and the public.

If the NMNOWTSSA fails to maintain transparency, it risks legal action from dissatisfied members or regulatory authorities.

Rather than resorting to name-calling, the NMNOWTSSA should engage in constructive dialogue. Welcoming scrutiny and addressing concerns openly fosters a healthier organizational environment.

A hostile approach may alienate members and harm the association’s reputation, potentially leading to legal disputes.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions emphasize freedom of association, collective bargaining, and protection of workers’ rights. The NMNOWTSSA should align its practices with these standards.

Violating ILO conventions could result in international scrutiny and reputational damage.

However, it is essential to recognize that being gazetted in Nigeria as an association does not automatically grant superiority over other registered seafarers’ associations.

The right to associate freely is a fundamental human right protected by both national and international laws. Seafarers have the right to choose their representative bodies without undue influence.

All registered seafarers’ associations should be treated equally under the law. No single association should claim exclusive representation.

The NMNOWTSSA must demonstrate how many certified seafarers in Nigeria explicitly recognize them as their representative. Mere gazetting does not automatically translate to effective representation.

The burden lies with the NMNOWTSSA to prove its representation. Verifiable evidence, such as membership lists or declarations from seafarers, is crucial. 

All seafarers, regardless of association, deserve fair representation. The NMNOWTSSA should not exclude other legitimate bodies.

Nigeria’s maritime industry benefits from a diverse range of voices. Exclusivity undermines collaboration and progress.

The law encourages healthy competition among associations. No single entity should monopolize representation.

Inclusive representation ensures effective collective bargaining for seafarers’ rights and welfare.

Legal cases involving seafarers’ associations have emphasized the need for transparency, inclusivity, and fair representation. These cases underscore the importance of adhering to legal norms.

The NMNOWTSSA should focus on transparently demonstrating its representation rather than resorting to name-calling. All seafarers deserve fair and equal treatment. Let us uphold the principles of freedom of association, inclusivity, and respect for fellow seafarers.

I urge the NMNOWTSSA to provide verifiable evidence of its membership strength, refrain from defamatory language, and engage in transparent communication. By doing so, the association can uphold its integrity and avoid legal pitfalls”.

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