The second meeting between the Federal Government and Organized Labour has been adjourned to Monday, 28 September, as Government offers palliatives expected to cushion the effect of the increase in petroleum price and electricity tariff.
Speaking after the meeting, Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, said the adjournment was to enable the Organized Labour consult their organs on the offers made by Government and other issues raised at the meeting.
He described the meeting as fruitful, as progress had been made while the dialogue would continue on Monday to arrive at a comprehensive decision.
Earlier, the Minister had noted that the meeting would discuss the amelioration of the pain attendant to the increase in petroleum price and electricity tarriff.
He assured the Organized Labour that the discussion would be done dispassionately and in furtherance of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, especially the section on Welfare, and Security of the citizens of country.
Ngige stated that the ownership of Nigeria was collective, as every citizen had equal stake in the country, and assured the Organized Labour that the discussion would be frank and genuine, with no hidden agenda.
“This country belongs to all of us. We can resolve the issues and nobody will be in the mood to go on strike or go on demonstrations in the street.”
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, appreciated the hardship that certain decisions of Government might foist on people, and assured Organized Labour that Government’s decisions would always be for the well-being of the people.
Mustapha said the recent policy decisions in dispute were never meant to cause pain or erode the well-being of the citizens, and expressed confidence that the issues would be resolved, as every Nigerian would want the best for the country.
The SGF disclosed that it was a tough decision for Mr President to take, as he had, in 2015 turned down the recommendation to deregulate the Petroleum sector, and the need to improve the energy sufficiency and efficiency within the Power sector, which the Presidential Transition Committee had presented to him.
According to him, “The President felt the time was not right and the circumstances could be managed before such decisions would ever be taken. He did not want to inflict pain on the people.”
He said that Nigeria, as other nations of the world, has been engaged in finding solutions to the economic disruptions brought by COVID-19.
He noted that the pandemic had inflicted enough destruction on the economic well-being of the country, pointing out that it would be unpleasant to gravitate towards strike or other actions that would cause more damage to the nation’s economy.
“It is for this reason that we will resolve the matter of which we are gathered here today, because I am confident that each and everyone of us has the interest of Nigeria at heart.
“We must collectively come to a resolution to the issues, and at the end of the day find solutions to the problems, for the good of the people and the nation.”
On its part, the Organized Labour urged Government to understand the plight of workers and the common man in the face of the predicament occassioned by the recent increase in petroleum price and electricity tarriff.
Present at the Meeting on Government’s side were Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; Minister for Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed; Minister of Power, Saleh Mamman; Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, SAN; Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, Chairman, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, James A. Momoh; Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Mele Kyari; Managing Director, Federal Mortgage Bank, Ahmed Musa Dangiwa, representatives of government agencies relevant to the issues in dialogue, among others.
On the Organized Labour side were, President, Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba; President, Trade Union Congress, TUC, Comrade Quadri Olaleye; President, United Labour Congress, ULC, Comrade Joe Ajaero; Executive Officers from Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, among other labour unions.