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Ajaero: Federal Government Knocks Labour As Strike Records Partial Compliance

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  • Tinubu not behind attack on Ajaero, escalating strike nationwide unreasonable – AGF office
  • Lagos, Rivers, Kwara, Bauchi workers shun Labour, Kano, Edo, Delta, A’Ibom, others comply

The Federal Government on Tuesday berated the organised Labour over the ongoing nationwide strike declared by union leaders following the assault on the Nigeria Labour Congress President, Joe Ajaero.

Kamarudeen Ogundele, the Special Assistant to the Minister of the Justice and the Attorney-General of the Federation, in an interview on Arise Television on Tuesday, said the strike was not in the interest of the country.

But President of the Trade Union Congress, Festus Osifo who also appeared on Arise Television, noted that the Governor of Imo state, Hope Uzodimma, had not apologised over the brutalisation of Ajaero.

He said this as nationwide strike declared by the organised Labour recorded partial compliance in several states on Tuesday.

Faulting the Labour leaders, Ogundele said, “Declaring a strike at this time will not be in the interest of the country. The country is trying to regain economic control and to also recover in several sectors. Instead of looking for at how we progress as a nation, there is no need for us to try to be involved in actions that will constitute a clog in the process of the country.”

When asked if the FG had not talked to the labour unions before it got to this stage of protest, Ogundele said who spoke on what he described as the genesis of the strike, said, “They (the labour unions) claimed that the NLC president was attacked in Imo State and I understand that there was an order of the court banning them from assembling or protesting in Imo. But they went against the order of the court by assembling. The government of the day is not out to promote violence but the labour unions have not come out to say the president of the country had a hand in what happened on that day. Why are they now trying to escalate what happened in the state to the whole federation?”

Justifying the strike, Osifo stated, “We allowed some of the essential services workers to work because we are also patriotic people at the end of the day. From our assessment, the strike has been successful based on our template and if the government continuously foot drags, more institutions will be shut down.

On the court order stopping the strike, Osifo said, “The government can not continually take black market injunctions to cripple Labour. They will have to arrest the entire Nigerians.”

But there was partial compliance to the strike. While workers in Lagos, Rivers, Kwara, Bauchi, Zamfara, and several other states completely shunned the strike as offices, schools, and banks opened, there was partial compliance in some states where some sectors partly obeyed the strike directive.

Partial observance was recorded in Anambra, Ondo, Kaduna, Borno, and Ogun states as banks and overnment offices were open in some of them while workers did not report at work in others.

The strike was declared by the NLC and the TUC to protest the alleged brutalisation of the NLC president, during a workers‘ protest in Owerri, Imo State, on November 1.

Banks, government and private-owned schools, and tertiary institutions across Lagos did not obey the strike directive.

Also, business owners and parastatals carried on with their activities throughout Tuesday.

Some schools in Lagos, including Omole Grammar School, Olusosun Primary Health Centre, Oregun, and Ifako-Ijaiye General Hospital, were open for services.

Banks in the Oregun, Ikeja axis also opened their doors to customers.

However, students at the University of Lagos, Akoka, were sent away from their classrooms.

A student in the Department of Social Work, who gave his name simply as Emeka, said, “We came for a lecture at 9am but till 11am, we didn’t see our lecturer so we went back to our hostels while those leaving

off-campus went back home after we were told there was a strike.”

The Lagos State University, Ojo, did not participate in the strike as it went on with its ongoing examinations.

Students were seen reading and moving in and out of halls to sit for their exams.

A visit to the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control office in the Oshodi area of the state also revealed that workers went about with their daily activities.

Public and private schools in Lagos state were open for regular school activities with no sign of strike observed.

Some teachers, who spoke to our correspondent, said they were aware of the directive by the NLC but had no reason to comply.

A teacher at a technical school, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said, “We have a full house here. All our teachers are

working, and all our students are here. We heard about the strike, but, as you can see, we are not on strike.”

It was also observed that some workers at the Lagos State Secretariat, Alausa, were at their duty posts, while some offices only had a handful of staffers hanging around their offices when our correspondent visited.

The Public Relations Officer of the Lagos State chapter of the NLC, Mr Ismail Adejumo, said the level of compliance would increase on Wednesday (today).

“We have a substantial level of compliance today (Tuesday). Most of our affiliates have complied and we are mobilising others to join the struggle.

“Both the NLC and the TUC are in this struggle together.

We are currently moving around to monitor and enforce compliance among all our sister affiliates. We are determined to ensure that there is total compliance,’’ he stated.

Rivers workers

In Rivers State, the labour action recorded no compliance as schools, banks, and the state secretariat were open to the public.

Banks on the entire stretch of Aba Road and Azikiwe Road in Port Harcourt attended to customers.

State workers said they were aware of the nationwide strike but that they had yet to receive any directive from their unions in the state to join the industrial action.

Similarly, normal activities were observed at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital where the staff attended to patients.

But the Nigerian Ports Authority’s entrance was barricaded by some union leaders who also prevented human and vehicular entry.

They used a MAC truck and several private cars to block the roundabout from the industry road axis of Port Harcourt all the way to the gate of Ports.

Following the development, some staff of the NPA were denied entry into the complex.

The state Chairman of the NLC, Alex Agwanwor, and his TUC counterpart, Okechukwu Onyefuru, had in a joint statement said they would comply fully with the strike directive.

In Kwara State, civil servants, including judicial workers, boycotted the strike as the ministries, departments, agencies, and courts operated in Ilorin, the state capital, throughout the day.

However, federal workers and bank officials did not report for work as their offices were under lock and key.

Commercial banks which opened to the public in the morning later shut their gates to customers following a directive from their union, while students who had earlier resumed classes were sent home by their teachers.

Most bank customers were left disappointed as the ATM machines were not dispensing cash.

Electricity consumers were not spared the pains of the strike as the Ibadan Electricity Distribution company locked its offices in Challenge and Baboko business centres.

The banner of the National Union of Electricity Employees was displayed at the gates of the business facility.

The security men informed the customers that the workers were on strike.

However, commercial transport operators in the state did not join the strike.

The NLC Chairman in the state, Saheed Olayinka, said that though some workers reported in their offices early in the day, they later left for their homes.

He said that a committee had been put in place by the NLC to monitor the strike, adding that members had been going around the offices to ensure that workers complied with the directive on the strike.

Bauchi schools

There was partial compliance in Bauchi State as some banks, schools, and filling stations opened for business in the metropolis.

The Fidelity Bank branch located close to Shagari Plaza opened to its customers but Taj, Access, and Eco banks located on Bank Road shut their gates.

A teacher at a government primary school disclosed that they were asked to send the pupils away and go home.

She said, “We opened our school today and we did our academic activities as usual but we got a circular from the Local Government Education Authority that we should close down. But because when the memo came we had a few minutes to close and the pupils were to write a test, so I just gave them the test and we closed.”

The Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, Ibrahim Inuwa, said that their members complied with the directives.

In Makurdi, Benue State, banks, schools, and the state secretariat were made to shut their gates as labour leaders in the state enforced the strike directive.

Primary and post-primary school pupils who were on their way to school were sent back and banks were forced to close.

Leaders of the NLC and TUC, Terungwa Igbe and Gideon Akaa, respectively described the level of compliance as ‘substantial.’

Some civil servants protested the action of the labour leaders and described it as ‘selfish.’

A worker, who simply identified himself as Amenger said, “I don’t know what has become of labour these days; because Ajaero was manhandled in Imo, all Nigerians must suffer.

“What did Ajaero do concerning those people recruited by (ex-governor Samuel) Ortom who were laid off by (Governor Hyacinth) Alia? Or what did he do when workers in Benue were not paid for several months?

Reacting to the question, Akaa replied, “One of the slogans of the labour union is an injury to one is injury to all,” adding that what labour was doing was to engage the government and stated, noting that what happened to workers in Benue was not peculiar to the state.

Workers in Enugu also snubbed the strike but the state NLC Chairman, Fabian Nwigbo, said they were working on how to mobilise them for the strike.

“We are at a meeting and I am trying to prepare a letter to galvanise the workers for the strike. You know the order is coming from the national secretariat,” he said.

However, it was observed that banks and offices were rendering services to their customers.

Similarly, academic activities were in full swing in both private and government schools.

The strike recorded partial compliance in the Federal Capital Territory as banks and the Abuja airport remained open.

In observance of the strike, members of staff and visitors to the National Assembly, Abuja, were prevented from accessing the complex.

The Federal Secretariat was notably less busy than usual as many of the offices, among which are the Ministry offices of Education and Health, were closed.

Similarly, banks in the area including Zenith, Access, and First City Monument banks, were closed, and only spotted a few customers at the banks’ ATMs.

Bayelsa workers

Civil servants in Bayelsa State stayed away from their offices leaving the secretariat deserted.

Many public schools were also closed, but a few private schools opened their gates to students.

It was also observed that some banks including GTB, Access, Ecobank, Fidelity Bank, and Keystone attended to customers in Yenagoa, the state capital.

There was full compliance in Plateau State as the offices were shut.

The union leaders in the state were said to have locked the federal and state secretariats around 5am in compliance with the directive from their headquarters.

Staff of the University of Jos who reported for work in the morning were seen returning home before 10 am.

The state NLC Chairman, Eugene Manji, declared that the workers would continue to observe the strike until otherwise directed by their national leaders.

In Edo, the state secretariat was shut on Tuesday by the NLC executives in the state.

The NLC Chairman, Odion Olaye, explained that he had sent his members to schools, the airport, petrol stations, and the Nigeria Petroleum Development Corporation to enforce compliance with the strike action.

Banks along Akpapava, Mission roads, forestry, and other areas were also shut down with customers trying to get money from a few ATMs that dispensed cash.

At Benin Airport, an official said planes were landing and taking off as the facility was operating without any hitches.

In Warri, Delta State, labour leaders were seen locking the gates to the NPA; the Warri South Local Government secretariat was equally shut down.

The situation was not different in Kano where the Audu Bako State Secretariat which houses most of the ministries, was also closed down.

Staff members who reported for work were turned back even as banks and other financial institutions were locked down.

Bayero University students who were writing their first-semester examination were also affected by the strike as a number of them who went to the campus could not sit for their exam due to the strike.

Meanwhile, the Kano State Ministry of Education has suspended the 2023 Secondary Schools Qualifying Examination scheduled till further notice.

Workers in Zamfara State completely shunned the strike directive as many of them reported for duty.

Some of the workers said they were no longer in support of the labour union leaders as, according to them, “The union leaders are only fighting for themselves.”

Ilyasu Mohammed said it would be a mistake for any civil servant to embark on a strike as directed by the labour union leaders.

He said, “We are tired of wasting our time going on strike which will at the end of the day become a fruitless effort. The labour leaders will use the opportunity to negotiate with the government, get money and later suspend the strike”.

“This has happened several times and nothing has been achieved. We are tired and we will not embark on strike as directed by the labour union”.

Another worker, Musa Garba, vowed, “I will not join the strike because it will not change anything.”

Findings further showed there was compliance with the strike order in Akwa Ibom, Osun, Ebonyi, Cross River, and Niger states while the labour action was partially successful in Anambra, Ondo, Kaduna, Borno, Ogun, and a few other states.

In Anambra State, there were full economic and commercial activities were recorded in the commercial city of Onitsha, as banks opened for customers while primary and secondary schools were also in session.

Also, some commercial banks in Akure, the Ondo State capital did not totally comply as they attended to customers. Similarly, teachers in some public schools in the state were also in the class teaching their pupils.

The NLC Chairman in Ebonyi State, Prof. Egwu Oguguo said the exercise recorded over 90 per cent compliance by workers in the state In Kaduna State, the headquarters of Kaduna Electric Distribution Company along Bank Road by Ahmadu Bello Way in the metropolis was shut to customers and workers as the officials of the National Union of Electricity Employees ensured that the main gate was firmed locked, but banks in the state attended to customers.

But there was total compliance in Delta State. The state secretariat popularly called Prof. Chike Edozien secretariat, was locked.

However, many workers in government ministries and other establishments in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, on Tuesday, were busy doing their duties.

The strike however recorded full compliance in Niger State as most public places were shut down.

Schools and hospitals in Ogun State complied with the directive of the organised Labour, banks shunned it. There was partial compliance in Bauchi State as some banks, schools, and filling stations opened in the Bauchi metropolis on Monday.

Labour berates Presidency

Meanwhile, the NLC has said the strike is not a blackmail of the Presidency.

The Congress further noted that President Bola Tinubu-led administration ought to be grateful for the “uncommon” patience displayed by the Organized Labour despite the sufferings faced by citizens following the removal of subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit known as petrol.

The NLC said this in a statement on Tuesday signed by its head of information, Benson Upah, in response to the statement on Monday by the Special Adviser to the president on Information and Strategy, Chief Bayo Onanuga.

Onanuga had said the nationwide strike by the Organized Labour was an attempt to blackmail the Presidency.

But the NLC said, “We would have ignored Bayo Onanuga, Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy because we know him plus his penchant for unwarranted bellicosity and belligerence.

“We could equally have forgiven him, knowing full well that overzealous hirelings like him easily go into overdrive in the mistaken belief that they’d earn the confidence of their principals.’’

 

Credit: The Punch

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President Tinubu Directs Full Implementation Of Oronsanye Report To Cut Size Of Government

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Nigeria’s President, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has directed the full implementation of the Oronsaye report.⁣

The Oronsaye report on public sector reforms, submitted in 2012, revealed that there are 541 statutory and non-statutory, federal government parastatals, commissions and agencies.⁣

Speaking with journalists at the end of the federal executive council (FEC) on Monday, Mohammed Idris, minister of information, said Tinubu has approved some reforms based on the Oronsaye report.

Idris said numerous agencies would be eliminated, others combined or restructured to cut governance costs.

The minister assured workers that the move would not initially affect jobs.

“In a very bold move today, this administration, under the leadership of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, consistent with his courage to take very far-reaching decisions in the interest of Nigeria, has taken a decision to implement the so-called Oronsaye report,” the minister said.

“Now, what that means that a number of agencies, commissions and some departments have actually been scrapped.

“Some have been modified, marked while others have been subsumed. Others, of course, have also been moved from some ministries to others where government feels they will operate better.”

On her part, Hadiza Bala-Usman, special adviser to the president on policy coordination, said Tinubu has constituted a committee to implement the report within 12 weeks.

The committee will be headed by George Akume, secretary to the government of the federation (SGF).

  • Background

In 2011, former President Goodluck Jonathan constituted the Stephen Oronsaye-led panel to identify inadequacies in the country’s civil service.

In 2012, the committee submitted an 800-page report and recommended the abolishment and merging of 102 government agencies and parastatals.

The committee on the white paper for the report submitted its report in 2014.

Since the submission of the report, the recommendations have not been implemented.

However, several committees and sub-committees were established to implement the report’s recommendations.

In November 2021, the federal government inaugurated two sub-committees chaired by former heads of service of the federation, Bukar Aji, Amal Pepple and Oladapo Afolabi, on the implementation of the report.

The two sub-committees were tasked with the implementation of a white paper on the restructuring of ministries, departments and agencies to reduce the cost of governance.

In July 2022, the federal government inaugurated a white paper committee to review ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) created since 2014.

 

Credit: The Cable

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Lagos Government In Partnership With Jospong To Revolutionize Waste Management — Tokunbo Wahab

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In an effort to transform waste management in Lagos State, the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources and the Jospong Group of Companies from Ghana have inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

The state secretariat hosted the ceremony to officially launch a collaboration that would solve the problems associated with managing liquid and solid waste in the busy megacity.

During his inaugural speech, the Honourable Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources, Barrister Tokunbo Wahab, emphasised the significance of the collaboration. He underlined that the partnership with the Jospong Group represents a common goal for a healthier, cleaner, and more sustainable Lagos.

“The challenges of solid and liquid waste management in our rapidly growing megacity are well documented,” said Barrister Wahab. “It is our responsibility, as stewards of this city’s future, to address these challenges head-on.”

The partnership with the Jospong Group, renowned for its expertise in environmental and waste management services across Africa, marks a significant step towards enhancing the quality of life for Lagosians. Together, the entities will develop integrated solid and liquid waste management facilities tailored to meet the city’s current and future needs.

The collaboration will focus on leveraging technology, advocacy, enforcement, and the promotion of circular economy innovations such as recycling, composting, reuse, and waste-to-energy projects. These initiatives aim to reduce the environmental impact of waste while creating employment opportunities and fostering sustainable development in Lagos.

Barrister Wahab concluded his speech by calling for dedication, innovation, and collaboration in the journey ahead.

He urged stakeholders to embrace a paradigm shift in waste management, viewing waste not as a burden but as a valuable resource with the potential to contribute to the economic and environmental prosperity of Lagos.

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Presidency, Police Issue Fresh Warnings As 65 Groups Pull Out Of NLC Protest

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The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) was once again forewarned by the Presidency on Sunday not to go forward with its planned two-day statewide demonstration against the country’s rising cost of living.

The police issued a warning against interfering with business operations while the demonstration was going on.

The warnings were delivered by the police and Mr. Bayo Onanuga, the Special Advisor to the President on Information and Strategy, as 65 civil society organisations withdrew from the scheduled rally on Sunday, citing concerns about its potential hijack and the potential for worsening the already dire circumstances.

The NLC President, Joe Ajaero, had insisted in a statement on Sunday that the protest would be held on Tuesday and Wednesday as planned.

On February 16, the NLC announced the nationwide protest scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday over the alleged government’s failure to implement agreements reached between both parties on October 2, 2023, following the removal of the fuel subsidy.

The decision followed the conclusion of a 14-day ultimatum issued to the Federal Government to implement measures against the widespread hardship.

But addressing NLCS’s decision to proceed with the protest despite entreaties from various agencies and groups, Onanuga (in an interview with The Punch), described it as a “breach of the law” and an “illegal undertaking.’’

He said, “The attorney-general has written the NLC’s lawyer that the protest is illegal. So, they are breaching a court order if they want to go on with the protest.

“We are not aware of any plans to disrupt the protest, but what we can confirm is that they (NLC) are breaching an extant rule by a competent court that they should not go on protest. The protest itself is illegal. So, the NLC should bear that in mind.”

Warning the NLC on its course of action, the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Adegoke Fayoade, said the command would not condone any form of violence during the planned protest.

Adegoke in a statement cautioned the protesters against disrupting commercial activities, and vehicular movements in the state, adding that anyone found violating the rights of others during the rally would face legal repercussions.

The statement read, “The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, CP Adegoke Fayoade, has assured Lagosians that the command has put necessary measures in place to ensure the safety of lives and property, the free flow of traffic, and a peaceful environment for carrying out their respective lawful duties.

He advised protesters against, “an action capable of grounding commercial activities and obstructing the free flow of traffic.

“The command will live up to its mandate of ensuring that no person or group of persons is allowed to infringe on the fundamental human rights of others, especially the rights to freedom of movement and the right to dignity of human persons.

“CP Adegoke, therefore, warns all intending protesters that anyone found infringing on the rights of other Nigerians will be dealt with in accordance with the law.’’

  • Ekiti Police

Similarly, the Police Commissioner in Ekiti State, Adeniran Akinwale, said the force would not allow a breakdown of the rule of law in the state during the protest.

Akinwale, who harped on the need for peace in Ekiti State and Nigeria, said, “I have a role to play, my own is to ensure that there is peace and tranquillity in Ekiti State. In any situation that comes, we monitor and if there is anything, we respond accordingly. But our own job is to monitor to ensure that there is no problem.

“We appeal to people not to truncate the peace Ekiti people are witnessing because the present economic situation is not palatable, however, it is not peculiar to Nigeria or Ekiti alone, so we will just continue to pray for improvement in the economic situation in Nigeria.’’

The Delta State Police Command disclosed its plan to deploy personnel to maintain law and order during the protest.

Revealing this in an interview with one of our correspondents on Sunday, the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Bright Edafe, said, “We will do our normal deployment of officers to maintain law and order. The command will issue a statement tomorrow to that effect.”

On its part, the Kaduna State police command asked the NLC to shelve the protest in the state.

The Command’s Public Relations Officer, Mansir Hassan, hinged his plea on the precarious situation in the state.

He, however, noted that should the NLC t protest, the command would provide the necessary cover for them, warning the protesters to be law-abiding.

Hassan said, “The command is appealing that the protest should not even hold. They should understand the nature of Kaduna and that it is not everywhere they should come and protest.

“We have enjoyed relative peace in the state. We will provide adequate security for them and we are appealing to be law abiding. Although we have had a cordial relationship with the NLC for a long but if they insist, we will give them the necessary cover.

“They should know that where their rights stop, that is where other people’s rights start. In fact, we are evening appealing that the protest should not hold. We are calling on the hoodlums to desist from infiltrating into the NLC protest.”

Concerned by the possible hijacking of the rally, 65 civil society groups under the aegis of Coalition of Civil Society Organisations Forum, said it would no longer participate in the demonstration.

The group said this a few days after the Department of State Services appealed to the labour to shelve the protest on the grounds it could be hijacked by fifth columnist to cause chaos in the country.

The group in a joint statement by its Coordinator, Buba Mohammed and Secretary, George Phillips, on Sunday, also said it was making “frantic efforts” to meet with the government and amicably resolve the issues at stake.

“Any attempt to embark on a nationwide strike during these critical period of hunger and harsh economy could be hijacked by hoodlums and criminal elements, who have been waiting for the slightest opportunity to unleash terror; disrupt public peace, loot business premises and markets,’’ it said.

  • NLC Allegation

Reacting to the development, the NLC President, Ajaero, claimed that the forum was “one of the emergency groups put together, funded, promoted and remote-controlled by the government to cause violence against our members for electing to peacefully protest against the hunger in the land.”

The president insisted that the protest would hold in line with the decision of the NLC national executive council, adding that “the pangs of hunger cannot be vowed by bullets or tear gas.”

In a statement on Sunday, the labour leader alleged a plot to attack the protest, warning that there would be a total shutdown if attacks or violence were unleashed on peaceful protesters.

He admonished the government to find solutions to the challenges plaguing the country.

He noted, “In light of this, we advise the state to put on its thinking cap and find solutions to the pains it continues to cause the people instead of further dehumanising them.”

“However, if it is irrevocably set on the path of violence against us and other peace-loving Nigerians, it will be making a costly mistake because if we are attacked there will be a total shutdown via withdrawal of services by workers. Let no one be deceived, we and other deprived Nigerians cannot easily be intimidated.’’

The congress told the African Union and the United Nations that the right of the people to ‘’peacefully protest and demand for freedom from economic slavery and hardship is being threatened by the Nigerian state.”

Speaking on Ajaero’s allegation, the Federal Government said it had no intention to disrupt the protest.

The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Idris Mohammed, said this in an interview with one of our correspondents on Sunday night.

The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, had earlier reminded the unionists that there was an existing court injunction restraining them from embarking on any protest or rally.

But Idris assured that the government would not use force or recruit hoodlums to attack the protesters just as he faulted the planned rally, describing it as unpatriotic.

He said, “Let me first say the Federal Government has no intention whatsoever to use force against anybody. What we are saying is that they must maintain law and order.

‘’The question is why will the NLC want to go on protest at this crucial time when the nation is trying to find a solution to economic challenges that we have?

“If Labour is patriotic enough, this is not the time for them to go on strike. Their decision to embark on this needless strike now is quite unpatriotic.

“The Federal Government is not interested in using force against labour or anybody at that. We are only appealing to them to see reason and underscore the importance of dialogue all the time.

“After all, most of the agreements we have with labour have been implemented. So what is the point? I can’t see any reason for them to go on strike at this moment. What do they intend to achieve with it? What we should be looking for is the solution to our challenges.’’

Shedding light on what the government has done so far post-subsidy regime, the minister stated, “Look at the gains we have made from the removal of fuel subsidy. More money is being pumped into the economy. There is a committee on wage that has also been agreed upon.’’

  • FG Faults Labour

Continuing, the minister explained that the Federal Government was doing everything possible to ease the economic crunch and arrest the free fall of the naira.

He also confirmed that the government met with state governors and private sector players, including business mogul, Aliko Dangote; Group Chief Executive Officer at Oando Plc, Wale Tinubu; Chairman of Heirs Holding and Transcorp Plc, Tony Elumelu and Chairman of BUA Group, Abdulsamad Rabiu at a crucial stakeholders’ meeting at the State House in Abuja on Sunday evening.

“The Federal Government today met with all the state governors and organised private sectors with Aliko Dangote, BUA, Elumelu and others. That is to tell you that this administration is doing everything humanly possible to resolve the current challenges,” he stated.

Also speaking on the alleged plot to disrupt the protest, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Olajide Oshundun, said plots to attack protesters should not be linked to government agencies, adding that it is the fundamental right of every Nigerian to protest.

Oshundun stated, “Government do not disrupt protests because it is the fundamental human right of any individual or groups to organise protests.

“I have never heard of my ministry or any government agencies being employed to frustrate protests.

“On the part of the ministry, we have appealed to Labour to shelve the protests because what they centred their protests on is that the ministry is not keeping to the 15-point agreement reached on October 2 2023 but within the last week, the Minister of Labour and Employment in a release addressed each of the 15 points agreements. There is none of the 15-point agreement that the government has not done one thing or the other.

“However, we will keep appealing to the labour union but if they still want to go with the protests, the ministry should be left out of the attacks on protesters. We are civilised and we know the rules.”

Despite the pleas from the Federal Government, the Lagos State NLC Chairman, Agnes Sessi, has insisted that there is no going back on the nationwide protest.

Reacting to the warning from the AGF that the protest could be in contempt of court, Sessi said it was within the fundamental human rights of its members to hold a peaceful protest.

In a letter dated February 23 and addressed to the counsel for the labour unions, Femi Falana, the AGF said, “You may wish to note that the foregoing issues or objectives are at the core of the pending case before the National Industrial Court.

“Upon the submission of grievances to the court, parties in the suit cannot resort to public protests over the same issues, as such conduct amounts to gross contempt and an affront to the institution of our courts of law.

“Therefore, the proposed nationwide protest action in all its ramifications is in clear violation of the pending interim injunctive order granted in suit no. NICN/ABJ/158/2023 Federal Government of Nigeria & Anor v. Nigeria Labour Congress & Anor on June 5, 2023, restraining both NLC and TUC from embarking on any industrial action or strike of any nature.”

But Sessi insisted that the AGF or any other government officials or agencies could not truncate the union’s planned peaceful protest.

Sessi stated, “The AGF cannot say the court has ruled against the protest. There is a law. And this law supports our fundamental human rights. This law allows for peaceful protest. You can stage a peaceful protest anywhere around the world.

“It is our right; nobody can tell us not to assemble. It is going to be a peaceful protest against the bad policies of the government. They cannot tell us not to come out. We will come out.

“We will be civil in our protest, and we will show our displeasure about the hardship through our convergence. We have the backing of those who know the law. Peaceful protest is allowed all over the world.”

Also commenting on the AGF’s warning, the Kano State NLC Chairman, Abdullahi Jungle, said, “We only take directives from our national body and not any other organizations.’’

“I can assure you that by Tuesday, we are fully set for the protest and you can also come to witness the process,” he added.

Meanwhile, the National Leader of the pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, Pa Reuben Fasoranti has appealed to Nigerians to be patient with the administration of President Bola Tinubu.

Fasoranti acknowledged that the economic measures being implemented by the government were difficult, it was aimed at restoring economic prosperity and stability of the country.

This was contained in a statement issued by the Afenifere leader on Sunday titled, ‘A special appeal to Yoruba/ Nigerians not to participate in any protest or rallies as we go through the painful surgical solution to rescue our country from avoidable death and to restore it to the path of glory.’

According to the nonagenarian, the government’s commitment to implementing the economic measures was “a testament to its dedication to addressing the root causes of our economic challenges, inherited from the ills of the previous years.”

The Afenifere leader noted that the removal of fuel subsidy and the floating of the naira was not undertaken lightly, ‘’because great damage had been done to the country’s prosperity through the nefarious activities of the agents of darkness within the oil and financial sectors.”

He said, “These measures by the Federal Government, though painful in the short term, are designed to create a more sustainable economic environment that will benefit us all in the long run. It requires collective understanding and resilience from every citizen as we navigate through these challenging times.’’

While imploring the people to trust in the government’s commitment to the welfare of the nation, Fasoranti said there was a need for the people to engage in constructive dialogue and contribute positively to the ongoing economic reforms.

As the leader of Afenifere, we are actively engaging with the government at different levels to address the concerns of our people. Let us remain steadfast, patient, and united in the face of these challenges, confident that our collective resilience will pave the way for a more prosperous future,” he submitted.

 

Credit: The Punch

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