FG to Labour: Our agreement can’t be implemented once

The Federal Government yesterday told the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) that it remained committed to the full implementation of all agreements reached with them.

But government said in response to the 14-day ultimatum issued by the two labour groups, that it was not practicable to implement all the agreements in one fell swoop.

The NLC, in its own reaction to criticism of its threat to go on strike at the expiration of the ultimatum, said it does not necessarily enjoy embarking on strike and that it calls out workers only to correct the wrongs in the country.

Speaking at a press conference in Abuja yesterday, Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, said government had no intention of reneging on the contents of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed with the two labour organisations, and urged them to continue demonstrating restraint in their decisions and actions as the government keeps working to address the challenges currently faced by the nation.

The minister said that the government would continue leveraging on “the principles of social dialogue, valuing the input of our social partners, with the goal of creating a better Nigeria for all.”

 

She pledged the Tinubu administration’s commitment to honouring its “obligations to workers and the less privileged in Nigeria.

Her words: “We will ensure the complete implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) we entered into with Organised Labour. Our word is our bond.

“I can confidently say that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration stands firmly with the people, and the President is tirelessly working to ensure that everything is done to address the needs and concerns of the nation.

“The N35,000 wage award agreed upon between the government and organised labour is currently being implemented.

“However, we have received complaints regarding non-implementation in some public sector organisations as well as the private sector.

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“The Ministry is actively addressing these issues to ensure compliance across all sectors.

“The Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) has intervened in the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) matter with the Lagos State Government.

“As a result, up to 80% of the agreement with the RTEAN management has been fulfilled, and ongoing efforts are in place to complete the remaining process.”

She also noted that the federal government recently inaugurated a 37-member tripartite committee to recommend a new national minimum wage for Nigerian workers, “all in a bid to mitigate the hardship the Nigerian citizens are facing.”

Onyejeocha stated that in line with ongoing commitment to improving the welfare of Nigerians, “the government is actively implementing its plan to go green with the implementation of the Presidential CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) Initiative designed to alleviate the challenges arising from subsidy removal and transition Nigeria permanently to cheaper, safer and more reliable gas produced domestically for transport.

“Provisions have also been made for an initial 55,000 CNG conversion kits as part of the commencement of the auto gas conversion programme.

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“Development of the state-of-the-art CNG conversion centres nationwide is also ongoing with the aim to deliver one million converted bi-fuel CNG/PMS vehicles to enable transporters and mass transit operators convert their vehicles that run on PMS to gas (which is forty to fifty percent cheaper than PMS).

“Additionally, the government, through the Ministry of Finance, is procuring up to 11,500 CNG vehicles, including buses and tricycles, that will be rolled out in fulfillment of the President’s promise by financing them at concessionary rate, even as production and assembly are ongoing locally and will be delivered in the next few months.”

The NLC and TUC had given government 14 days to implement the 16-point agreement reached with them on 2nd October, 2023, failing which they would go on strike.

We don’t enjoy going on strike, says NLC
Defending the position of the NLC yesterday, the Head of International Relations of the congress, Uchenna Ekwe, said it was wrong to assume that the body enjoys calling out its members on strike whenever it issues government an ultimatum.

The aim, according to him, is to call the attention of government to fulfill its promise.

“Let me make this clear, the NLC is actually never interested in a strike. We don’t want a strike; we want the right things to be done,” Ekwe said on Channels Television.

“Usually people see when NLC starts putting warning and if you notice the comments, people will say we don’t want a strike, it will disrupt.

“Before you see us issue a public ultimatum, there must have been many communications that are not meant public to the government system calling their attention to probably an agreement like in this case.”

He alleged that despite many reminders to government since the signing of the agreement in October, little has been done by government.

 

He lamented that some items out of the 16-point agreement have not received any attention and that the unions want them to be addressed.

The NLC Head of International Relations also dismissed insinuations that Labour is playing to the gallery and trying to use its influence to quell agitations and protests in the country over hardship.

He said that Labour had no reason to play to the gallery as it would be of no benefit to the workers and the Nigerian people.

Katsina Gov: Terrorists targeting me
Amidst efforts at the federal, state and local levels to ease the current economic hardship and security challenge in the country, Katsina State Governor Dikko Radda said yesterday that he was being targeted by terrorists who are making life difficult for residents of the state.

The governor, speaking in Katsina at an expanded emergency security council meeting to find solutions to the economic and security problems in the state, said security reports revealed that “I’m now one of their targets in the state because of the measures we are taking to deal with the situation.”

He asked the people to “organise themselves in order to protect their communities from attacks by criminals.”

On the economic hardship, he said: “It is unfortunate that prices of food items and other essential commodities have been increasing daily, hence the need for stakeholders to offer useful advice on the problem.

“I was told that foodstuffs are being transported from our markets to neighbouring countries like Niger, then to Mali and Burkina Faso, because our naira has been depreciating while their currencies are gaining value.

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“Such people are taking that opportunity at the detriment of the poor. That is a great problem which we cannot fold our arms and allow to continue.”

Suffering is becoming unbearable for Nigerians — CAN
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the 19 Northern States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) expressed concern over the economic hardship and the increasing security challenges across the country.

Its Secretary General, Elder Sunday Oibe, said in a statement in Kaduna that high cost of foodstuffs, transportation, goods and services has made life difficult for many Nigerians.

“The epileptic power supply has led to the collapse of many small businesses. The continued decline in the value of the naira and the seeming inability of the government to address the situation has completely weakened the purchasing power of ordinary Nigerians,” he said.

“The situation is further compounded by escalating insecurity occasioned by rampant killings and kidnapping for ransom. Government must take urgent steps to address the depressing economic and escalating security situation in the country.”

Northern CAN also noted the rampaging activities of bandits in Plateau State and other parts of the country in recent times.

“We are saddened by the attacks by bandits in Mangu Local Government Area of Plateau where many people were killed and several houses burnt barely a month after several communities in Barakin Ladi, Bokkos and the same Mangu were raided by bandits resulting in the killing of over 300 people.”

It asked government to do everything possible to stop the killings not only in Plateau but across the country.

“These killings have continued because the perpetrators have never been brought to justice.

“We have continued to wonder why the government has not been able to hold anybody accountable for the mass killings going on in the country.

“Unless justice is done, by ensuring that the perpetrators and whoever are the sponsors are brought to book, all the peace talks may be mere rhetorics.

“Just when we thought banditry and kidnapping had been contained, it has resurfaced more daringly, especially in Abuja, the nation’s capital which was hitherto considered a safe haven being the seat of power with all the security apparatus located there.

“The brutal killing of traditional rulers in Ekiti and Kwara states and the abduction of school children among others too numerous to mention is an indication that Nigeria is on the brink.

“These, notwithstanding, we commend our security agencies for their sacrifices and patriotism in ensuring that these criminal elements are flushed out. We urged them not to relent in their efforts to crush them.”

It advised government to review the security architecture for effective and decisive action.

A non-government organisation, the Disciples of Jagaban (DOJ), asked the Directorate of State Services (DSS) to call social activist Aisha Yesufu to order, saying she must not hide under the freedom of speech to denigrate the office of the President and mislead innocent youths to protest against constituted authority.

The DOJ National Coordinator, Comrade Abdulhakeem Adegoke Alawuje, made the call in reaction to a recent video in which Aisha claimed Nigeria does not have a President.

However, Alawuje in a statement warned that such “uncultured” individual should not be allowed to either cause crisis in the land or corrupt the innocent youths who may erroneously take her as a mentor.

“This is indeed a misinterpretation of what we call fundamental human rights. Aisha Yesufu can as well insult anyone, but she must realise that President Tinubu is not just a personality; he is occupying the exalted office of the presidency to represent all Nigerians, irrespective of ethnicity, religions and political affiliations.

“Insulting the Nigerian President in such mannerless way is not only despicable, it’s unAfrican and antithetical to all forms of domestic training and morality.

“Her vituperation is an insult to the Number One man in the Federal Republic of Nigeria; it is an insult to the entire nation. The President of the giant of Africa should never be allowed to be insulted by a woman like Aisha.

“Aisha needs to realise that the election is gone, the campaign is over and activism is not barbarianism. She needs to learn to know the difference between ruggedness and foolishness.

“There is a time for students’ unionism and there is a time for mature politics. She must wise up. She should have come of age.

“Mrs Yesufu should not be fooled by her #NoGreeForAnybody generation or Obidient supporters who will only push and cheer her into the dungeon of regrets.

“Indeed what she did in that video is pure foolishness rather than the ruggedness she tried to proof.

“No sensible African and no sane Nigerian will applaud the insanity and inanity she displayed in the unfortunate video.

“Constructive criticism is welcome, but insulting the personality of the President can only be counterproductive.

“What exactly will she gain from such incivility? Nothing, of course.

“From time immemorial, political parties have contested elections after which winners and losers will emerge.

“Labour Party is not the first political party to lose elections in Nigeria, and neither will it be the last. So, why going overboard?

“Is this part of what they called fundamental human rights? Aisha Yusufu is surely no longer a human rights fighter; she is a confirmed Labour Party member. And even as a politician, she has gone beyond partisan politics.

“The lady has gone beyond all constitutional boundaries. Her right to complain as a citizen has been overstretched and abused. She has collectively insulted the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

<<The Nation>>