…No it’s in Nigerians interest –NLC
By Bimbola Oyesola and Magnus Eze, Abuja
The National President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Kiagama Bobboi, yesterday gave reasons why his trade centre disagreed with the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) shortly before the commencement of the planned strike, saying that the latter was dogmatic in pressing its demands.
The TUC President said that the NLC came to the negotiation table with only one item, which was that the price of fuel be reverted to N86 per litre, even though the meeting with government afforded labour opportunity to address the contending issues once and for all.
“At this meeting, we drew attention of our NLC colleagues that there was no reason we should be persistent about one position…lets proffer alternative positions but they insisted there is not alternative position except the government brings back the price to N86. “Then we asked, is that your only position and you are not changing to any other alternative? And they said yes. And the TUC said we were given a first and alternative mandate by our executive, and this is our alternative. Then we asked them to see reason with our own alternative but they said no. That was where disagreement entered. “So I want Nigerians to use their sense of judgement and reason if you were in our shoes, the position you would have taken? It is important that in terms of taking decision that will affect the masses, one does not take a fanatical position and eventually mislead people.”
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has stated that posterity and Nigerians would judge the positions of the two labour centres, the NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) in the ongoing battle for the reversal of the pump price increased by the Federal Government last week.
The National Trustee of the NLC, who is also the National President of the National Union of Chemical Footwear Rubber Leather and Non Metallic Product Employees (NUCFRLANMPE), Boniface Isok, said rather the TUC has been inconsistent and proved unreliable since the inception of the unification of the two labour centres in the planning of the proposed strike.
“I don’t know what is the problem of Kaigama. Initially the two centres were directed to meet their separate bodies and later come together for harmonisation of thoughts, but with the mandate that none should divulge their respective decisions to the press.
“But TUC, after its meeting, went ahead to give the Federal Government ultimatum before the harmonisation meeting on Saturday,” he said.
He stated that NLC was not a party to the two agenda that the TUC President was talking about because after harmonisation on Saturday, the common agenda by the two centres was for the government to reverse or the commencement of the strike on Wednesday.
On Joe Ajaero, Isok said the factional leader was only out to sabotage the NLC not because he does not support the NLC strike but to show that he exists.
“When we met, there was nothing like Federal Government talking to Ajaero. Everybody was working for the same purpose, including Ajaero. He cannot say he was in support of the new increase but he just saw this as an opportunity to sabotage the efforts of the NLC,” he said.
He maintained that all what the NLC was doing was to provide leadership for Nigerians, which they have been able to do within these two days that the strike has commenced.
“Nigerians already know the truth and the future will tell whether we are fighting for ego or not. At the end we shall all know the truth,” he stressed.
Meanwhile the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) said it could only react to TUC after reading the text purported to have emanated from its President.
The NLC Deputy Presient, Peter Adeyemi, said the congress would not want to be quoted of context neither would it like to join issue with TUC.
The TUC also decried the reaction of NLC to the government involving the Comrade Joe Ajaero-led faction of the Congress in the negotiation. According to Kiagama, the NLC was on an ego war to the detriment of the Nigerian masses. “NLC took the strategy of government negotiating with Joe Ajaero’s faction as a slap on their face. Then I told them; let’s see this beyond personal or group interest but in the interest of Nigerians. So I didn’t see their insistence on N86 as based on patriotism but on the basis that government decided to bypass them and go into discussion with Ajaeo group which is normal for any human being.
Considering that we have been working behind to end the factionalism within NLC and, I had expected that this negotiation would have been a genuine starting point. I believe if factionalism was not there, we would have easily solved our problem on this issue because the issue of dialogue would have continued. But the problem started with the Ajaero’s group and this is the long and short of the story,” he stated.