BY GODWIN OBI
To avert a nationwide strike by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, on Monday met with the leadership of the Congress.
The NLC leadership had issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Federal Government to end the naira scarcity in the country. NLC President, Joe Ajaero had threatened that the Congress would go on strike if the issue was not resolved at the expiration of the ultimatum.
Ngige subsequently invited the apex bank leadership and the NLC to a meeting on Monday to resolve the matter.
This was disclosed in a statement by the Director of Press and Public Relations, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Olajide Oshundun.
“The ten-man delegation of the NLC was led by the President, Comrade Joe Ajaero and the General Secretary, Emmanuel Ugboaja while the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele was accompanied by two Deputy Governors, Kingsley Obiora (Economic Policy) and Ade Shonubi (Organised Private Sector),” the statement read.
In his remarks, the minister refuted the allegation of the NLC that his ministry did nothing about the matter.
He said on receiving the letter from NLC, he forwarded the same to the CBN governor before travelling out of the country for an International Labour Organisation (ILO) Governing Board meeting and directed the Permanent Secretary and Trade Union Services and Industrial Relations Department to follow up.
On his own part, Emefiele said when he received the letter from the Labour Ministry, he called the President of NLC to brief him on steps taken to alleviate the sufferings of the masses and equally made appointment and had discussion with NLC president and had fruitful discussion which resulted.
He said a large volume of funds was made available to the deposit money banks and they were directed to open their branches on Saturdays and Sundays and they complied under strict supervision by the CBN.
According to Emefiele, following the steps taken Nigerians have been enjoying their money.
Earlier, Ajaero said they only got a reply to their second letter to the ministry and subsequently, an invitation to the meeting.
He said they no longer envisage any problem, since CBN has started sending cash to the banks and Nigerians were now accessing their money, he acknowledged that meetings has taking place in the spirit of good dialogue.
He, however, urged the CBN to improve on their services, regretting the information gap created in the implementation of the Naira Redesign.
“NLC could not have stopped CBN from taking good decisions and implementing them in the interest of the nation. If stakeholders were invited and briefed on the policy, when the people complain, NLC would explain everything to them. But in this case, the CBN did it alone. Moreover, it is a wrong time for administering such a national policy,” Ajaero was quoted as saying.
He assured that the National Executive Committee (NEC) of NLC will meet tomorrow Tuesday 28th of March, 2023 where members from states and Local Government Areas are expected to report on availability of money, after which a decision will be taken on the strike.
The minister, however, assured all that whether the NLC is embarking on the dispute of right or dispute of Interest, the dispute has been apprehended and can only result to more dialogue and not strike.