Another FG, Labour Parley Ends In Stalemate
… ‘It Is N65 Per Litre Or Nothing’ – Labour
ABUJA, January 11, (THEWILL) – Another negotiation between the federal government and organized labour has failed to produce a deal that would get protesters off the streets and end a 3-day old strike which enters day 4 Thursday.
A Wednesday night meeting brokered by the House of Representatives adhoc committee mandated to resolve the conflict between both parties ended in another stalemate.
The federal government delegation made up of retired Chief Justice Of Nigeria (CJN) and former Supreme Court Justice, Justice Alfa Belgore; Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Anyim Pius Anyim; and Labour and Productivity Minister, Mr. Emeka Wogu accused labour of providing a platform for violence across the country, saying that they must denounce those perpetrating the violence and end the strike to create room for serious negotiations.
However, union leaders led by the NLC Chairman, Comrade Abdulwaheed Omar and TUC President, Comrade Peter Esele insisted that the only way to end their strike and protest will be for government to reverse the price of petrol to N65 per liter, just as they denied culpability in the scores of violence recorded across the country.
Earlier, Anyim had decried the violence and destruction that took place in Minna, the Niger State capital and accused labour of providing the platform for politicians and hoodlums to use the protests to perpetrate violence and crime.
Reading a text from his mobile phone, Anyim said the agenda of the protest has changed. “I think the agenda of this meeting has changed because of the mayhem visited on the people and government of Niger State. I therefore call on labour to denounce those perpetrating the acts of violence and call off their strike and protests.”
But in response to the accusation, TUC President said part of the problem was caused by the reckless utterances and statements emanating from government officials. He said the statements were inciting and some angry Nigerians were reacting to the provocations.
Esele specifically accused the Labour Minister of referring to labour and protesters as street people. He referred to an interview granted on Channels TV where he called labour all manner of derogatory names. He declared that unless government reverts to the N65 per litre pump price, labour would not call off the strike, adding that protests will continue.
“It is N65 per litre or nothing,” Esele stated.
The TUC President further noted that “The position of government of not shifting ground aggravates the level of anger. Some of these comments by omission or commission can make people to be incensed, because these are people who elected the government and the officials are talking down on them.
“We are appealing to every Nigerian that labour does not encourage violence. We are saying if any politician has any scores to settle with government, he should use a different avenue. This struggle is not about an individual. We do not have anything against the Presidency or President Goodluck Jonathan. It is about Nigeria and nobody can be greater than the lives of 167 million Nigerians.”
Speaking in the same vein, NLC President, Omar Abdulwaheed said, “Many people have said why we’ve not shifted grounds. But let me tell you, my colleagues say it is reversal to N65 then we call off the strike and sit back and look at this issue holistically and take a lasting solution.”
He said labour “believe so much in Nigeria. Perhaps we are down there and want Nigeria to be good for us to enjoy because we don’t have anywhere to go.”
Earlier, Chairman of the House ad hoc committee, Hon. Patrick Ikhariale appealed to both the government and labour representatives to chart a middle course in order to find a solution to the unpleasant situation going on in the country, which has led to billions of naira in revenue loses.
He said the House resolution was occasioned by the near break down of law and order in the country, adding that Nigeria was bigger than any single individual.
In his remarks at the meeting, Justice Belgore said although government had taken a position that most Nigerians were not pleased with, labour should think of the country first, and allow negotiations to hold, so that a middle course could be charted.
He lamented that he is always afraid of strikes and protests because hoodlums would always take over and start killing people. He however assured that in spite of the predictions by a United States body, Nigeria will not break up.