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JONATHAN BEGINS NATIONWIDE CONSULTATIONS

By NBF News
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National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) has promised to deliver bloc vote to President Goodluck Jonathan and Vice President Nnamadi Sambo in the April 9, 2011 presidential poll. The union said their continued leadership would bring the much needed development and transformation in the country.

Jonathan, optimistic that he would head a new government in May 29, had begun a nationwide consultation with various interest groups with a view to hitting the ground running as soon as he is sworn-in.

During the interaction where he openly threw banters with the executive of the NURTW drawn from all over the country, the president underscored the importance of the body to the national economy, adding, 'you are critical part of our consultations because when you decide that we should standstill, we will stand still.'

The dialogue is coming after state-by-state campaign tour of the 36 states of the federation by the president.

While thanking the NURTW for openly endorsing his candidacy, Jonathan declared that 'with the endorsement and support of a very powerful union like yours I think the other presidential candidates should just surrender.'

Jonathan said the purpose of the meeting was for government to interact with critical segments of the society especially those who control segments of the nation's economy so that they will be on the same page with government.

He thanked the union's leadership for deciding to pay a positive role during the forthcoming elections through a workshop to sensitize its members. The theme of the workshop 'peace and security education for NURTW for violence free election' is commendable that you on your own initiated this. The Minister of Labour will be there and I am sure if INEC chairman will not be free, he will send representative', he said.

President Jonathan reassured the union of the government's readiness to partner the road transport workers adding 'In the next four years we won't just provide vehicles to move people and goods around, we want a situation where they can be manufactured or assembled in Nigeria. This will create job and contribute to the growth of our economy'.

'You can't play big in the global economy if you import everything' adding that he has directed the chief economic adviser to work with the union so that 'we can create more jobs and contribute to economic growth. At the Federal Government level, we want to work with state governments to ensure that only locally manufactured and assembled vehicles are used for transportation in the country'.

President Jonathan promised to work towards when substantial production of vehicles used by the union will be manufactured locally. This, he said will create jobs, reduce pressure of the foreign exchange among other benefits, assuring that when accomplished, government agencies will be compelled to use locally made saloon cars to start with and other vehicles types will follow.

The President stressed the commitment of his administration to be meeting and consulting more frequently (every 12 months) with the union so as to avoid strikes and industrial actions which hinder foreign investments and set the nation backwards.

Earlier in his remark the Minister of Labour, Emeka Wogu, described the Union as very vital to the national economy and that their endorsement was a welcome development.

President of the NURTW, Nojeem Usman, thanked the President for granting the union an unprecedented presidential audience.

Usman who noted the donation of a bus to the union by First Lady, Patience Jonathan, last year, said 'we pledge to reciprocate the goodwill of Mr. President and his administration with every necessary assistance towards victory in the April elections'.

He pledged the union's support to the presidential ambition of Jonathan, saying that the PDP primary elections of late last year which gave the president victory will even be bettered during the April polls.

He announced the union plans to organize a workshop for members to sensitize them of their role for peaceful, free and fair elections in the country.

'We have no doubt that your continued leadership will bring the much needed development and transformation of our country', he told Jonathan.?Other minister present at the event which took place at Sheraton Hotel and Towers, were Sanusi Daggash (Works), Yussuf Suleiman (Transport), and Federal Capital Territory Minister of State, Caleb Olubolade.