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 yesterday at the 331 Session of the Governing Board of the ILO currently holding in Geneva, Switzerland, Nigeria’s Minister of Labour and Employment, and the official Africa Region Spokesperson, Sen. Chris Ngige succeeded in eliciting the support of other regions to stop the overbearing role of France and Britain in the conduct of the Regional Meetings of the ILO.

 Nigeria with the mandate of Africa countries had stoically canvassed against the participation of Non-members in regional meetings other than theirs, in Africa and South America, calling it a continuation of colonization.

 Sen. Ngige in his address on behalf of the Africa Region said “with   regards   to participation in a Regional Meeting 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 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.

It will be recalled that the mater 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 the current practice based on Governing Board 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, 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 of France and Britain.

But Nigeria’s address on behalf of the Africa Region was greeted with applause across representatives from other continents, forcing the former colonial powers to plot the frustration of the position already accepted by the majority on Tuesday Nov 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.

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  (b) 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.


Samuel Olowookere

Deputy Director Press

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