Following escalating insecurity in the Southeast Nigeria and national labour crises, President Muhammadu Buhari has held a closed-door meeting with his Chief of Staff,Prof. Ibrahim Gambari and the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige at Aso Rock.
Persecondnews reports that labour issues put on the table include the recently suspended strike by the Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) and the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN).
It will be recalled that the strike had shut down the courts across the country for about two months.
Ngige, briefing State House correspondents on the fallout of the meeting, said:”We also looked at the security situation, especially in my zone, the Southeast and we made some proposals to him, based on the yearnings of the people, and what the government also wants.
“And we are following up with dialogue which at the end of the day is what will happen. We have to talk, we have to discuss. And part of the discussion starts also tomorrow (Saturday).
“The Minister of Defence, Minister of Interior and the Service Chiefs were in Enugu earlier last Saturday and we are going to do follow-up meetings on that again starting from tomorrow.
“We briefed him and he accepted that dialogue is the way to go in all these. Like I keep on saying there is a very tin line between perception and reality, so certain things should be done, at least to assuage the feelings of the people in the area and make them not to feel unwanted so that area was also discussed.”
On the industrial action embarked upon by some unions pressing for autonomy of state legislative and judicial arms of government, the minister told reporters:
“I have to see him to appraise him with labour industrial melieu especially when you know that the judiciary and parliamentary workers JUSUN and PASAN respectively had been been on strike that lasted for two months, we achieved a truce, through up an agreement and we have to today summit his own copies of agreement to him.
“We are going to monitor the agreement. He is very interested in it. And if you remember, he had to do an Executive Order 10 in consonance with the Constitution so that we have independence, financial autonomy for the judiciary and the legislature in the states.
“So it is one of the few things and he was happy that at least the strikes had been called off.”
Ngige said the looming another round of industrial action in Kaduna State on the faceoff between Gov. Nasir el-Rufai and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) was also discussed.
“This followed complaints by the leadership of the NLC that the Kaduna State Government had refused to obey the terms of agreement reached between the two parties after the Federal Government through the Minister of Labour and Employment intervened to broker a truce in the industrial dispute between the two.
“It was resolved that there was no need for another round of industrial disharmony between labour and the Kaduna State Government especially as the country was faced with serious security challenges.
“We also looked at the Kaduna State government/Nigeria Labour Congress imbroglo. We have arrested the strikes, we have apprehended them and formed committees for the workers through the NLC and the Kaduna state government so that they can do some social dialoguing and reconciliation through that route.
“The NLC just five days ago, wrote to Mr. President complaining that the Kaduna state government wasn’t keeping to their own side of the agreement, signed, especially in the area of victimisation of workers, they said that the government of Kaduna state has sacked some staff from the workforce for participating in the strike,” Persecondnews quotes the labour minister as saying.
He added: “And Mr. President sought for advice on it and we have transmitted the advice today.
So, I and the Chief of Staff have jointly briefed him on that and we are taking action to make sure we don’t have a repeat of what happened in that state.
“The president said that we (the country) have already been bedeviled with security issues, we don’t want any more compounding of those issues.”