From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye and Magnus Eze, Abuja
The Federal Government-led by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, alongside Governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige, met with organised labour in a bid to forestall the proposed nationwide strike by the Nigeria Labour Congress(NLC) and Trade Union Congress(TUC) scheduled for tomorrow.
Oshiomhole and Ngige had earlier met with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa before joining the meeting which held at the conference room of the SGF, possibly to harmonise federal government’s position before the meeting.
The meeting, which kicked off at about 6:30pm, had in attendance the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, factional President of NLC, Joe Ajaero, President of National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Igwe Achese, President of Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), Olabode Johnson.
Others were Trade Union Congress(TUC) President, Bobboi Bala Kiagama, NLC General Secretary, Peter Ozo-Eson,Ag General Secretary of Trade Union Congress, Simeso Amachree among others.
The meeting eventually started around 7.25pm and the SGF said subsidy removal and attendant fuel price increase was a painful decision for government.
Lawal noted that President Muhammadu Buhari empathises with Nigerians on the short time consequences of the increment and has made provision of N500 billion palliatives to cushion the hardship.
He also assured labour of government’s sincerity in the dialogue.
On his part, Oshiomhole appealed to labour for understanding and added that the situation today was not the same as in 2012.
On its part, organized labour said it sympathised with Buhari’s government “because they have to grapple with the mess inherited from the previous government.
TUC President Kaigama Bobboi assured that labour would approach the meeting with an open mind with the hope that government would muster the political will, while they, too, muster the will to carry the palliatives.
However, attempt by Ajaero to attend the meeting was rebuffed as Wabba insisted that he (Ajaero) must leave the conference hall.
Ajaero, who later addressed newsmen said government assured his group that it would still meet with them.
“Since there are going to be separate meetings, that means that there are going to be separate positions. The Wednesday they have fixed for action is not for us”, he stated.