In a last-minute effort to avert a nationwide strike, the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum, Kayode Fayemi had a meeting with the leadership of the two labour unions in the country, the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress at his Abuja residence on Saturday.
Fayemi is also to lead a delegation to meet with the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on the same issue.
This was contained in a statement titled “Final Communique,” issued by the Head, Media and Public Affairs of the NGF, Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo.
Bello-Barkindo said in the statement, “The Nigeria Governors’ Forum and the Nigeria Labour Congress are on the path to resolving the impasse occasioned by the threat by workers to embark on industrial action if the Federal Government does not rescind the recent decisions to increase the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit and Electricity Tariff in the country.
“This is the outcome of an early morning dialogue between representatives of the Forum and workers which took place at the residence of the Chairman of the NGF, in Abuja, early on Saturday.
“The NGF Chairman said, no one that is conversant with the prevailing situation in the country would disagree with labour and its demands, as it were, but pleaded that Governors be given time to consult more broadly with the various stakeholders, including the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, the vice president and the president. This he said would be a top priority for the NGF and promised to head straight to the presidency once the meeting was over.”
Bello-Barkindo explained that during Saturday’s meeting, the Ekiti State Governor spoke for the NGF while the NLC President Comrade Ayuba Wabba who was accompanied by the TUC President Quadri Olaleye and the NLC General Secretary, Emmanuel Ugboajah, spoke on behalf of organised labour. The Director-General of the NGF, Mr. Asishana Okauru, was also at the meeting.
Fayemi pleaded with the leaders of the organised labour to suspend the planned strike, arguing that the timing was not right, given the fact that the country was just returning to normal after the shutdown of the economy as a result of the outbreak of Covid-19.
He pointed out that any strike action at this time would further worsen the plight of workers.
In his response, the NLC president, Ayuba Wabba was quoted to have said the Federal Government violated the time-tested global process of dialogue and thanked the NGF Chairman for his efforts at ensuring that sanity returns to the negotiation table.
When the cost of PMS rises, the cost of everything in the country rises with it, the NLC President explained.
Wabba agreed with the NGF Chairman and also praised him for agreeing to broaden the mechanism for consultation on the matter saying “I praise you for showing a good grasp of this matter and I believe that if they had widened the mechanism for consultation and involved people like you, we wouldn’t have come to this pass.”
In response, Fayemi said government and labour are not that far apart in the negotiation and the differences are not irreconcilable.
The NGF Chairman said, “Our President who is always on the side of workers will not be averse to the issues being raised and I’m hopeful for an amicable settlement on the issues highlighted.”