Organised Labour and the Organised Private Sector had maintained that N30,000 was the amount recommended as new minimum wage at the committee’s last meeting
Bimbola Oyesola, Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan, Godwin Tsa, Abuja
After a long drawn and heated meeting of the tripartite committee on minimum wage, the Federal Government finally bowed to the Organised Labour as it acquiesced to their N30,000 demand.
The meeting, which began as early as 11 a.m. yesterday went into a two-hour recess at 8 p.m., reconvened at 10 p.m. and lasted into the early hours of today before an agreement was finally reached on the issue.
By the agreement, Organised Labour said the scheduled strike, which would have crippled the country from midnight was no longer necessary.
In an interview with Daily Sun on what transpired at the meeting, Deputy President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Sunday Salako, said all the members from the Organised Labour, Organised Private Sector, the Federal Government and state governments accepted and signed the N30,000 as the recommended amount in the report that will be sent to the Presidency.
“We ensured that the controversial Page 5 was signed by all the members of the committee. The N30,000 has been included there.
“We cannot sign the whole report because it is voluminous, but we have all signed the attestation page before we left because we don’t want a situation where somebody tomorrow will deny what transpired at the meeting. Should that happens, we can always refer to the report.”
He said unlike the previous meetings where only the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, had been attending, all three ministers – Labour and Employment, Finance, Budget and National Planning – were present.
“They were all there, they know the implication of what is going to happen if labour should go on strike as planned, hence they dare not joke with the meeting,” he said.Salako said the meeting was prolonged as a result of heated arguments between the representatives of governments and the Organised Labour.
“The states wanted to bring another snag when they insisted that they cannot pay the N30,000, but all the others including the Federal Government ensured that they did not drag us backward.”
He explained that the next step was to present the report to President Muhammadu Buhari after the chairman of the committee has secured appointment.
“All the members of the committee would be at the presentation as we were all there at the inauguration and we are expecting that it would be very soon because we want the National Assembly to pass it into law as soon as possible,” he said.
Securing the N30,000, according to multiple sources at the meeting, was a hard fought battle.
“Mid way into the parley, we thought the talks would be deadlocked as the committee could not readily reach a common ground as the government side dangled two figures,” said one of the sources.
This much was confirmed by chairman of the committee and former Head of Service of the Federation, Ama Pepple, who told newsmen after almost seven hours of the meeting that the committee will submit N24,000 proposed by the Federal Government and N30,000 insisted by labour unions.
She said the committee appealed to labour unions not to go on strike and they have agreed to consult their members.
Ngige said the two figures would be forwarded to President Buhari.Asked what becomes of NGF’s proposed N22,500, he said the governors will go with the Federal Government’s figure.
According to investigation, the decision to call a two-hour break, was mooted by members of the Organised Labour who demanded more commitment from the Federal Government on the actualisation of the new wage.
According to General Secretary of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), Alade Bashir Lawal: “We have over mobilised and our members would want more than N30,000 commitment for them to call off the strike. That is why we have to adjourn and reconvene by 10 p.m. to continue the discussion. We have crossed the hurdles of N30,000, but then there are still some hurdles to cross before we can say we want to call off the strike.”
Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha was the first to leave the venue of the meeting at about 7 p.m. with the promise to come back. He was followed by the Governor or Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu 20 minutes later, who also avoided talking to the press.
The labour union representatives came out after 8 p.m.
Recall that both Organised Labour and the Organised Private Sector had maintained that N30,000 was the amount recommended as new minimum wage at the committee’s last meeting, while Federal Government had insisted that no amount was agreed upon.
The Federal Government had subsequently said it would not be able to pay more than N24,000, while governors under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) offered N22,500.
In a related development, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), University of Ibadan has formally notified the Vice Chancellor of the institution, Prof Idowu Olayinka, of the resumption of strike by academic staff in all public universities in Nigeria.
The union’s chairman, Dr. Deji Omole, in a letter, said lecturers would abstain from teaching, supervision, statutory and ad-hoc meetings during the industrial action.
The union explained that the strike stemmed from lack of progress between the union’s National Executive Council (NEC) and the Federal Government on the implementation of the 2009 ASUU/FG Agreements, Memorandum of Understandings (MOUs)/Memorandum of Action (MOA) and the truncation of the renegotiation of agreements.
However, the leadership of ASUU in UI held a meeting yesterday, while Omole said members of the union would be briefed at a congress that will hold today.
Before an agreement was announced, Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, had appealed to the Federal Government, NLC and TUC to shelve the proposed strike in the country’s interest.
Saraki, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Yusuph Olaniyonu, urged both parties to demonstrate sensitivity and concern for the plight of ordinary Nigerians.
He said the resolution was necessary to prevent Nigerians, who were already battling with the harsh economic conditions in the country from further hardship.
He commended labour for its patience on the matter, noting that the issues of the new minimum wage could have been resolved long before now.
“My appeal is for the two sides to immediately move fast, shift from their extreme positions and create a new middle ground in the negotiations for the new minimum wage.”
The shift in positions can be done even before the period of the commencement of the proposed strike action so that we do not further create tension within the economy.
“At this point, the interest of the people should be paramount in our minds. Any labour strike will cause inconvenience and discomfort to our people.
“While the government and labour are representing the interest of the people, it is important to also ensure we avoid any action that will not show sensitivity and sensibility to the plight of the people,” he said.
While Nigerians waited with bated breath for the outcome of the parley, yesterday, the National Industrial Court (NIC) had refused to grant a fresh order barring Labour from embarking on strike when legal fireworks over the lingering minimum wage crisis between the Federal government and organised labour resumed yesterday.
NIC also rejected another application for an order compelling the government to immediately commence the process of adopting N30,000 as the new national minimum wage.
The two applications seeking the orders were brought by civil society group, Kingdom Human Rights Foundation International.
Justice Sanusi Kado held that granting an injunctive order against the proposed strike would be unnecessary since his court had earlier made a similar one in a case brought to the court by the Federal Government last Friday.
Killing of Christians: Buhari lied to Trump – CAN fumes
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has reacted to President Muhammadu Buhari’s revelation of his conversation with United States President, Donald Trump, on the massacre of Christians in Nigeria, saying President Buhari was economical with the truth.
President Buhari had on Tuesday, revealed that at the heat of the bloody clashes between herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria, the United States President, Donald Trump, unequivocally accused him of killing Christians.
Buhari said these in his closing remarks at the two-day ministerial performance review retreat held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Tuesday.
At a point, the President digressed from his prepared speech and narrated his encounter with Trump on the bloody clashes.
He said he managed to explain to the American leader that the clashes were not about ethnicity or religion.
He said, “I believe I was about the only African among the less developed countries the President of United States invited.
“When I was in his office, only myself and himself, only God is my witness, he looked at me in the face, and asked, ‘Why are you killing Christians?’
“I wonder, if you were the person, how you will react. I hope what I was feeling inside did not betray my emotion, so I told him that the problem between the cattle rearers and farmers, I know is older than me not to talk of him. I think I am a couple of years older than him.
“With climate change and population growth and the culture of the cattle rearers, if you have 50 cows and they eat grass, any root, to your water point, then they will follow it. It doesn’t matter whose farm it is.
“The First Republic set of leadership was the most responsible leadership we ever had. I asked the Minister of Agriculture to get a gazette of the early 60s which delineated the cattle route where they used meager resources then to put earth dams, wind mills even sanitary department.
“So, any cattle rearers that allowed his cattle to go to somebody’s farm would be arrested, taken before the court. The farmer would be called to submit his bill and if he couldn’t pay, the cattle would be sold, but subsequent leaders, the VVIPs (very important persons) encroached on the cattle routes. They took over the cattle rearing areas.
“So, I tried and explained to him (Trump) that this has got nothing to do with ethnicity or religion. It is a cultural thing.”
However, CAN’s Vice President and Chairman of the association in Kaduna State, John Hayab, was not impressed with Buhari’s submission, saying “Buhari and his government will never stop from amusing us with their tales by moonlight because what is happening in Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Birnin Gwari, Southern Kaduna, Taraba, Plateau and others cannot be described as a cultural thing.
He told Punch correspondent in an interview: “President Buhari’s weak story about his conversation with President Donald Trump further confirms why his government does not care about the killings in our country by calling them cultural things.
“Just this (Tuesday) evening, I received a report from the Kaduna Baptist Conference President about the number of their members that have been killed by bandits in Kaduna State from January 2020 to date to be 105 and our President will call it a cultural thing? All we can say is may God save our Nigeria.”
CAMA: Bishop blasts Christian lawmakers
The Catholic Bishop of Nsukka, Most Rev. Godfrey Onah, has blamed Christians in the National Assembly (NASS), for the passage of the 2020 Companies and Allied Matters Bill (CAMA), signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari recently.
Bishop Onah, said in a remark during the Sunday Mass that if Christians in NASS had opposed the bill, it would not have been passed into law.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on Aug. 7, signed the CAMA bill into law, giving provision for religious bodies and charity organizations to be regulated by the registrar of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), and a supervising minister.
“The question many Christians have been asking is, where were Christian legislators during the debate of this bill and its passage in the National Assembly?
“Because, if they had opposed this bill on the floor of the house, it would not have been passed and sent to the president for assent.
“I blame Christian legislators for doing nothing and allowing the passage of the 2020 CAMA Act,” he said.
“When I say that Christians are too divided and too selfish, don’t forget that the second in command in this country is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, a professor of Law and a pastor.”
Onah, however, wondered what the Federal Government wanted to achieve in monitoring how the finances of churches in the country are managed when it contributed no dime to the church, NAN reports.
“Government should focus and monitor its ministries, agencies and other government institutions where it budgets billions of Naira annually and not church offerings.
“Had it been that the government gave allocations to churches and decided to monitor its usage, nobody will question the government,” he said.
Nigerians spit fire over fuel, electricity prices hike
Anger and condemnations, across the country, have continued to trail last week’s take off, of new increases in pump price of petroleum products and electricity tariffs, as directed by Federal Government.
Recall that the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC) official, D.O. Abalaka announced on Wednesday September 3, on behalf of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) that the new price of petroleum is now N151.56k per litre instead of N149 – N150 per litre which it was previously.
The new electricity tariff which the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) tagged “Service Reflective Tariff” has also come into effect. It requires consumers to pay N53.87 – N66.422 per kwh of electricity.
Outraged consumers of fuel and electricity have therefore warned government to get ready for collision with the masses if it fails to rescind these new prices.
Those who have expressed outrage over the new prices regimes include, the Organized Labour, Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Nigerian main opposition political party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) and the Major Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN).
Others are: Petroleum Products Retail Outlets Owners Association of Nigeria, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) and the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce (NACCIMA).
The NLC said, “The frequent fuel price increase will no longer be accepted. We will not allow Nigerians fall victim of government ineptitude and negligence to make the country self-sufficient in terms of refining petroleum products at home.”
On its part, the PDP has described the price hike as “callous, cruel and punishing” and demanded an immediate reversal to avert a national crisis.
The All Industrial Global sees the incessant increase as a confirmation that deregulation means just price increase.
“This is unacceptable! Under a pandemic, we should put money in the pockets of citizens to revive collapsed livelihoods and preserve lives.” In its reaction, NECA said it has always urged Federal Government to adopt deregulation policy in the oil and gas downstream sector.
The MOMAN in its statement insists that monthly price variation of fuel was no longer sustainable. It urged PPRA to adopt quarterly price mechanism which would save the market the hassles of price volatility. The statements by IPMAN and NACCIMA also followed along the same line that the hike “…serves only to increase the severity and duration of the looming economic recession.”
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