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Off-Season Polls: FG Tackles Labour Over Strike, Unions Disrupt Imo Flights

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The Federal Government berated organised labour on Thursday for declaring a strike in Imo State and planning a nationwide strike on November 14 in response to the physical attack on the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Joe Ajaero, in Owerri, the state capital.

Festus Keyamo, SAN, Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, has warned the NLC and the Trade Union Congress against politicising Ajero’s alleged mistreatment, warning that politics might damage the country’s labour movement.

In response to the assault on the labour leader during a protest against the Imo State government on November 1, organised labour blocked all Owerri-bound flights at the Lagos and Abuja airports on Thursday, forcing passengers to deplane.

The union leaders and their members picketed the Nnamidi Azikiwe International Airport, disrupting the operations of the facility and leaving many passengers stranded.

The unions had announced the action after their extraordinary National Executive Council meeting which was held in Abuja on Tuesday.

But angered by the development, Keyamo came down hard on the labour leaders, accusing them of being ‘’Labour Party hirelings.’’

While appealing to the labour unions not to destroy themselves with involvement in politics, the minister maintained that the aviation ministry was not involved in the alleged maltreatment of the NLC leader.

Keyamo, who spoke at the opening of a retreat for the Minister, Permanent Secretary, Directors and Head of Agencies of the Aviation Ministry, in Effurun, Uvwie Local Government Area of Delta State, pointed out that the “Aviation (sector) was not involved at all; but their target is aviation.

“Their retaliation is aviation. So, please, I want to tell them to leave us alone. Leave aviation alone. You cannot target aviation in trying to address your grievances.’’

He noted with concern that the protest by the labour could affect foreigners coming into the country as well as citizens going about their normal businesses as, according to him, the protesters disrupted aviation activities by blocking the access road to the Abuja International Airport.

Keyamo, while claiming to be grounded in legal, civil society and labour matters declared that “it is not good for the image of the labour movement.

“I pray and I’m talking directly to them: Do not allow the Labour Party to destroy the labour movement. I repeat, do not allow the Labour Party and politics to destroy the labour movement.

“Call your leadership to order. Don’t get sucked into politics. It will destroy the labour movement. They cannot be hirelings in the Labour Party and they used them at their will. That’s why you see that the labour movement does not control the policies of the Labour Party.”

However, Keyamo disclosed that the aviation ministry had mobilised security agencies to disperse the protesters from the Abuja International Airport.

He noted, “I, as aviation minister, will not allow that target on aviation. They should not target aviation. If they do that, I will fight back and they should not bring politics to aviation. I’m grounded in this. I have been with them all over the years but they cannot deceive me.

“What they are doing is politics. It’s not labour movement, it’s politics. You cannot use that platform to go and support a party different from my party when you’re fighting back. You say it’s labour movement. No, it’s not. You should be ready for the consequences if you play politics”.

Keyamo condemned the alleged maltreatment of the NLC president, stressing that nobody should be manhandled.

During the picketing of the airports, the NLC, TUC, and the aviation unions compelled some airlines to deplane their passengers travelling to Owerri from Lagos and Abuja airports.

Unions picket airports

It was gathered that members of the unions carried out the process seamlessly at the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos without disrupting the flights of other non-Owerri bound passengers.

But the situation in Abuja was rowdy as the unions staged a protest at the entrance of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, paralysing access to the facility.

Hundreds of vehicles transporting travellers to the airport were trapped outside the NAIA, as the passengers were left stranded due to the development.

A traveller who was heading to the Abuja airport, Siraj Abubakar, said the protesters stopped vehicles from gaining entry into the facility around 8.30am on Thursday.

The aviation unions across the country had earlier declared the suspension of all flights to Owerri, Imo State, from every airport in Nigeria effective from Wednesday.

The TUC President, Festus Osifo, and the Deputy NLC President, Adewale Adeyanju, who led the protest, also visited the headquarters of the Nigeria Police Force to meet with the IG.

Addressing the workers, the TUC president said the picketing was to express the displeasure of workers over the physical attack on Ajaero.

He noted that the exercise which was only the beginning of the planned protest was to inform the government that ‘injury to one was an injury to all members.’

Osifo said, “Comrades, we have established the reason why we are here because an injury to one is indeed an injury to all. Someone asked me why we came to the Nnamdi Azikwe Airport when the issue should have been limited to Imo State.

“We said no, the person that was brutalised is a national figure, our president is a national figure and the police that beat him are called the Nigeria police. They report to the Inspector-General of Police who in turn report to the President. So this is a national issue and as such we must make it one.’’

Osifo directed the workers to commence preparation for a grand protest and strike action scheduled for Tuesday next week.

“This is just the beginning. We have just started. By midnight on Tuesday, November 14, don’t bother leaving your house. We have given you a notice now. Every worker will be at home. Let’s see who owns Nigeria.’’

The Chairman of the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria Branch, Ahmed Danjuma, justified the airport action.

“The picketing of the airports is as a result of the issue on the ground. We were directed by the two labour centres to stop all flights going to Owerri, only Owerri,” he stated.

Asked to state how the unions identified the Owerri-bound flights, Danjuma replied, “We know the airlines that operate to Owerri. In Lagos, it (the picketing) was actually seamless and polite. We spoke to United Nigeria Airlines at MMA2.

“Even though they started boarding at the beginning, we spoke to them to disembark the passengers. For Air Peace too, we told them not to service the Owerri route today and it was politely done. So, we had already interfaced with them.

“The management of FAAN also spoke with us, saying instead of us coming into the airport to disrupt the operations, we should meet with a few of the airlines involved since it is only one route that is affected.

“This happened today (Thursday) and it is also the same directive that was given to our people there in Abuja. Although I don’t know what is the true situation there yet.”

When told that the unions in Abuja actually blocked the entrance of the airport, Danjuma said, “That is too much, they are not supposed to go about it that way. We are not shutting down everywhere. It is only flights going to Owerri and we spoke to the airlines not to check in their passengers.”

Ahead of Saturday’s governorship polls in Kogi, Imo, and Bayelsa states, the Independent National Electoral Commission has urged the Federal Government and organised Labour to settle their rift through dialogue.

He stated this in reaction to the picketing of the airports in Abuja and Lagos by the unions.

INEC on polls

When asked if the governorship poll in Imo State could be affected by the strike declared by the labour unions, the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, stated, “The election will go on as scheduled in Imo State. The NLC strike is not targeted at the governorship election and is not expected to disrupt it.

“However, we urge the Federal Government and the NLC to resolve their differences amicably through dialogue as quickly as possible.”

Speaking on whether INEC has moved sensitive materials to the three states, Oyekanmi noted that “All the non-sensitive and sensitive materials needed for the three governorship elections holding on Saturday, November 11 in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi states have already been delivered to the respective states.’’

“The sensitive materials for the elections are currently being disbursed in the premises of the respective Central Bank branches in the three states at this moment,” he further explained.

In a related development, the military high command said it had uncovered a plan by some persons to wear military uniforms to disrupt elections in some areas where the exercise would be held.

The military revealed it had massively mobilised troops for the off-cycle elections.

The Director, Defence Media Operation, Maj. Gen. Buba Edward disclosed this during a press briefing in Abuja on Thursday.

He warned such persons to shelve the plan or face “injurious consequences” for such action.

Buba said the military would not fold its arms and watch its image dragged in the mud.

He said, “For the off-season elections in Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi states this weekend, here is a message for you. The military is deployed in strength for the election to create a safe environment for voters to peacefully come out and cast their votes.

“Election is a serious business and the military is giving it the seriousness that it deserves. So much has been put in place. Troops and platforms are being moved to those locations to reinforce security that is in place in the states. We are aware of the plans.

“However, we are aware of plans of some to disguise in military gear to orchestrate havoc and disrupt elections in some areas. Our message to such a group is that there will be injurious consequences for such an action. The military will not fold its arms and watch its image dragged into the mud.”

Buba said journalists covering elections in the three states would be briefed on how to identify such people and other safety measures.

He said, “Journalists in those locations on how to identify fake soldiers should that arise and other security measures to adopt. For security reasons, I can’t disclose it here. “

Still, on the election, the Department of State Services has warned against comments intended to cause disharmony in the country.

A statement on Thursday by the Director, Director, Public Relations and Strategic Communications, Peter Afunanya, urged supporters and politicians to shun acts that could undermine the peaceful conduct of the election.

DSS cautions troublemakers

He said, “The Service urges key players and their supporters in Kogi, Imo, and Bayelsa States to conform to the rules of engagement and specifically the electoral law during the 11th November 2023 gubernatorial elections in the areas.

‘’The aim is to avert situations likely to undermine the processes. So far, the Service has substantially liaised with INEC, sister security agencies, and relevant NGOs to ensure hitch-free exercises in the affected States.’’

He called on the media and non-governmental organisations to avoid actions that could cause a breakdown of law and order.

The agency vowed that individuals or groups intending to engage in criminal acts during the election would be dealt with.

In preparation for the poll, the INEC on Thursday distributed electoral materials to all the 27 Local Government Areas of Imo State.

At the Central Bank of Nigeria Branch in Owerri, the state capital, the electoral body distributed BVAS machines, ballot papers, and result sheets for the election to the 27 LGAs of the state.

The South-East National Commissioner for the commission, Kenneth Ukeagu, who briefed journalists while the distribution of the sensitive materials was ongoing, said that the electoral umpire was ready for the poll in the state.

He disclosed that elections would take place in all the LGAs in the state having got assurances from the security agents.

Ukeagu said that with the commission on top of its plans for the election, he doesn’t foresee any hitch that would hamper the electoral exercise.

He said its staff had been trained and professionally charged to discharge their responsibilities during the poll.

Ukeagu, therefore, urged the electorate in the state to come out en mass to elect a governor of their choice on Saturday.

He said, “We are ready for the election. We are distributing sensitive materials to all the LGAs in the state because elections will take place in all the LGAs in the state. We have received assurance from the security agents for the provision of adequate security during and after the election.

“On our part, we are ready and on top of our plans. The people of the state have to come out on Saturday and elect a governor of their choice.”

Ahead of the election, the police authorities have posted Danjuma Aboki as the new police commissioner in Imo State.

This followed the redeployment of the former CP, Mohammed Barde, to the force headquarters.

The command spokesperson, Henry Okoye disclosed that 15 CPs, 29 deputy commissioners of police, and 40 assistant commissioners of Police were posted to the state for the election.

In a move to ensure a seamless operation, the police have fortified security in four local government areas of Bayelsa State which were believed to be politically volatile.

The Deputy Inspector-General of Police supervising the South-South zone, Daniel Sokari-Pedro, who disclosed this during a meeting with election stakeholders at the Police Officers’ Mess in Yenagoa, on Thursday, said IG Kayode Egbetokun, was committed to a free and fair electoral process.

Sokari-Pedro, who is in charge of Election Management Security in Bayelsa, said the three senatorial districts of the state were also violence-prone and listed the four local governments as Nembe, Southern Ijaw, Brass, Sagbama, and Kolokuma/Opokuma, adding that “almost all the local government areas are politically-volatile” as far as the election was concerned.

Governor Douye Diri, who is the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, is from Kolokuma/Opokuma LGA while his All Progressives Congress counterpart, Timipre Sylva, is from Brass LGA.

He said, “It is a known fact Bayelsa State is a peaceful State. Nevertheless, it is, election-wise, a volatile state. The three senatorial districts that make up the state are politically volatile. And some of the local governments and flash-points have been identified in the three senatorial zones.

“These include Sagbama, Nembe, Kolokuma/Opokuma, Southern Ijaw and, I think, Brass. Almost all the local governments are politically-volatile. But the ones I have just mentioned are the most volatile. I mentioned Nembe, Southern Ijaw, Brass, Sagbama and Kolokuma/Opokuma.”

The DIG, who was accompanied by his deputy on election duty in Bayelsa, AIG Ebong Eyibio, and the AIG Zone 16 headquarters, Yenagoa, AIG Paul Odama, also read the riot act to troublemakers, particularly violent youths and their sponsors, to steer clear of voting centres across the state.

Sokari-Pedro further said, “But we are assuring the peace-loving Bayelsans that in this election, not only the proxies will be dealt with, their identified principals will equally be dealt with. Take note. The fate that befalls the proxies will be visited on the principals.”

As part of preparations for a peaceful poll, he said the officers and men had been directed to carry out a show of force in all the local government areas on Thursday and Friday.

Ajaero backing LP – Uzodimma

Meanwhile, the Imo State governor, Hope Uzodimma, has said that he has no reason to have supported the attack on the NLC president, Ajaero, by the police.

The governor stated this when he appeared on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Thursday night, which was monitored by our correspondent.

Uzodimma stated, “I think Joe Ajaero is pursuing his personal interest. He has said times without number that he is a member of the Labour Party. He has a candidate in the election of Imo State, so he is driving whatever programme will give an advantage to the Labour Party in Imo State. If you follow with interest the history of the Labour Congress from 1999 till date, never in the history of any government has the Labour Congress or Labour union, shown the level of hostility they have shown to this administration.

“Assuming anybody has gone to Joe Ajaero to report that there was anything the Imo State government has not done right, I think the first thing he should do is to try to find out from the state government. As I speak to you, we have not met, we have never discussed, he has never presented anything to me. I am not a member of the Labour Union. I have no reason to encourage or support an assault on Joe Ajaero, who is the President of the Nigerian Labour Congress”, he said.

 

Credit: The Puch

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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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