Petrol no longer subsidised in Nigeria, FG replies W’Bank

The Federal Government has denied the claims of the World Bank on the continued payment of the fuel subsidy on petrol.

In an interview on Channels Television on Thursday, the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, said President Bola Tinubu had made it clear from his first day in office that his government would not sustain the payment of subsidy on petrol.

According to Idris, the removal of the petrol subsidy had led to an increase in the revenue accruing to the Federation Account.

“Subsidy is gone, and the President told Nigerians from his first day in office that there won’t be subsidy (on petrol). It is because subsidy has gone that we have so much money available for the government to do so many things. Of course, it’s never enough, but fuel subsidy is gone and it’s gone for good,” the minister stated.

He added, “There are instances where the government needs to come in to see that things don’t go so bad. That’s the responsibility of the government. Every rule will also have its self-adjusting mechanism, but I can assure Nigerians that the subsidy is gone.

“If you look at the monies accruing to the Federation Account and the kind of money the states are receiving, you would know that everybody desires that subsidy should go. What do we do with that subsidy, I think, is the next question. We need to scrutinise that so that Nigerians would benefit from the subsidy that has been taken away. Subsidy is gone.”

Marketers project

Reacting to the argument by the Federal Government that the petrol subsidy had gone, the National Secretary of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Chief John Kekeocha, said this was not true.

Kekeocha said the government was afraid that the removal of the subsidy would lead to unrest.

“It is funny when government personnel who don’t know the realities on the ground come to the open and mess the government up. How can you say that subsidy is gone? No reasonable person who knows the dynamics of the market globally will say that.

“As we speak, a pound is about N1,480 or more, and a dollar is about N1,200 or more. So what is the magic to use and say subsidy on PMS is gone? The government is subsidising PMS because if it gets to N1,000/litre the country could be set on fire.

“So the government is apprehensive. Just like I keep saying, the things they ought to have done before the removal of subsidy on petrol, were not done. They are now beginning to sit with organisations and try to know what they ought to have done.

“So no reasonable government personnel who knows the politics or dynamics of the downstream oil sector would come out and say subsidy has been removed. There is a subsidy, the government is subsidising the product which is why you can see fuel at N650/litre,” he stated.

Asked whether he shared the view of the World Bank that the pump price of petrol should be N750/litre, Kekeocha replied, “Even at N750/litre it is still subsidised. What is the cost of fuel in London? It is about N1000 to N1,200/litre. So that is the range we should be looking at.”

Earlier, the National Public Relations Officer, IPMAN, Chief Ukadike Chinedu, told one of our correspondents that the subsidy on every litre of petrol should be about N400 currently.

“Remember I once told you that we are operating quasi-subsidy, but now that quasi-subsidy scenario is gone. It is now a full subsidy on PMS because the naira is down, so there is nothing you can say about it.

“Since the dollar is now about N1,100, if you buy it at that price for the purpose of importing petrol, that means PMS should be selling around N950 or N1,000/litre. This is because when the dollar was N750, petrol was sold at N595/litre. So there is no magic about this.

“Also, the cost of diesel is skyrocketing. Now, when diesel is sold at over N1,000/litre, the difference between its cost and that of PMS is not more than N5 or N10/litre in normal circumstances,” he stated.

The Convener, Nigerian Unity and Progressive Forum, Ifeanyi Egwuagu, called on Civil Society Organisations to embark on a nationwide peaceful demonstration to demand concrete action from the government towards ameliorating the sufferings of Nigerians.

In a statement issued in Abuja, Egwagu expressed worry over the economic hardship being faced by the majority of Nigerians over the years and accused the Tinubu administration of taking the sufferings of Nigerians to a higher degree through the removal of the subsidy.

“The plan to remove fuel subsidy has been on the front burner over the years. There is a logical argument that the positive impact of removing the subsidy will be felt in the long run.

“However, a government that truly has the socio-economic well-being of the people at heart will put in place sustainable measures to lessen the sufferings associated with the immediate subsidy removal.

“I cannot see any clear-cut vision by the present administration to enhance the socio-economic well-being of Nigerians. For me, what President Tinubu did was to put the cart before the horse.

“If a powerful cabal was alleged to have been stealing subsidy money, why not go after the cabal and recover the stolen wealth of the people from them? In any case, I do not see this government fighting corruption as desired by good-thinking Nigerians.”

Fuel queues

In a similar development, the Independent Petroleum Association of Nigeria, on Thursday, said it would meet the Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, Mele Kyari, to demand the supply of more Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol.

It disclosed this while responding to questions on what was being done by the association to address the queues for petrol at filling stations operated by both major and independent marketers, as well as the lack of products by IPMAN members.

Speaking on the sidelines of the National Delegates Election of the association in Abuja, the newly elected National President of IPMAN, Abubakar Maigandi, said his team would work hard to ensure the seamless distribution of petroleum products nationwide.

Commenting on the queues at filling stations and the lack of products by some independent marketers, Maigandi said, “We are going to contact the GCEO of NNPC to make sure that all the required products are being supplied to us so that we should be able to get our filling stations with PMS and others.”

On the move by the Federal Government to deploy Compressed Natural Gas as an alternative to PMS, the new IPMAN boss said it was a welcome development and promised that members of the association would participate fully.

“We are ready to key into Mr President’s programme on CNG in such a way that you are going to see all our members participating fully in the programme,” Maigandi stated.

Speaking about the elections that produced him as president, Maigandi said other contestants for the position of IPMAN president stepped down and gave him their support to lead the association.

“They stepped down for me, therefore I need them so that we can be able to move this association forward and help the administration of President Bola Tinubu in moving the oil sector forward,” he stated.

The Chairman, Board of Trustees, IPMAN, Aminu Abdulkadir, said the elections successfully produced new officials who would run the association for the next five years.

“By our constitution, we are saddled with the responsibility of conducting the elections, and we have done our job well because there was no single dissenting voice. We have conducted a successful election and our members are happy about it.

“This is because the wishes of the people have been expressed here. I want to also state that IPMAN, as a critical stakeholder in the downstream oil sector in Nigeria, has turned a new leaf today with the emergence of its latest leadership.”

Other newly elected executives of the association include the National Vice President, Adekunle Fasola; National Secretary, James Tor; Assistant National Secretary, Suleiman Yakubu; and National Treasurer, Umar Aliyu.

The National Organising Secretary is Ben Odjugo; National Legal Adviser, Nnanna Oru, among others.

Also, the Federal Ministry of Finance, on Thursday, said details of the proposed plan to scrutinise the dollar oil revenue flow accrued to the government from financial gains of fuel subsidy removal would be released and widely publicised when completed.

The Director of Press and Public Relations, Stephen Kilebi, offered this explanation when one of our correspondents sought further clarification on plans to scrutinise the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation Limited as earlier indicated by the Minister of Finance, Wale Edun.

Kilebi said the audit, which was a work in progress, represents the government’s effort to be accountable to the public and all processes and procedures would be released.

He said in a telephone interview, “Well I don’t think those details should be in public domain for now because it should be a work in progress.

“And since that is the intention of government, I think they would be working towards that. So when they are perfected and procedures completed. They will come to tell the public how the audit will be done.”

Recall that the minister had revealed during a panel session at the World Bank’s Nigeria Development Update Release, that the government was ready to scrutinise the revenue flow from the National Nigerian Petroleum Company Limited.

In the report, the World Bank raised transparency and accountability issues about the financial gains from fuel subsidy removal remitted by the NNPCL and the impact of subsidy removal on federation revenues.

According to the World Bank, while revenue gains from the exchange rate reforms are visible, more clarity is needed on oil revenues, including the fiscal benefits from the PMS subsidy reforms.

It declared, “Nominal oil revenue gains have been evident since June; these are mostly categorised as ‘exchange rate gains’”, suggesting that they are due to the naira depreciation.

“Except for the exchange rate-related increases, however, there is a lack of transparency regarding oil revenues, especially the financial gains of the NNPC from the subsidy removal, the subsidy arrears that are still being deducted, and the impact of this on federation revenues.

“It is also unclear why retail petrol prices have not changed much since August, despite fluctuations in the exchange rate and global oil prices.”

The institution further expanded that gains in net oil revenue of the federation were lower than what they should have been considering what the removal of fuel subsidy should have added to the accounts.

The PUNCH reports that the expanded scrutiny comes barely a week after a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Lamido Sanusi, alleged that the NNPCL might not be remitting enough dollars to the Federation Account despite the subsidy removal.


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Fuel price: Reject W’Bank N750/litre proposal, Labour warns FG

The Nigeria Labour Congress, on Thursday, warned the Federal Government against heeding the advice of the World Bank to increase the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit popularly called petrol to N750/litre.

The NLC’s Head of Information, Benson Upah, in an interview with The PUNCH, said any further increase in the price of petrol would lead to anarchy in the country.

He, therefore called on the government to reject the proposal of the World Bank that petrol should sell at about N750/litre, as against the current rate of between N620 and N650/litre in most locations across the country.

This came as oil marketers explained that the cost of PMS should be around N1,000/litre had it been that the government not subsidising the product.

But the government, on Thursday, denied the claims of marketers and the World Bank as regards the reintroduction of subsidy on petrol in Nigeria.

The World Bank, on Wednesday, asked the Federal Government to stop the subsidy payment on petrol and raise the cost of the product to N750/litre.

It said the Federal Government might still be paying the subsidy as fuel prices in Nigeria were currently not cost-reflective, stressing that Nigerians should pay about N750/litre for PMS as against the current price of N650/litre.

The World Bank’s lead economist for Nigeria, Alex Sienaert, alleged the continuous payment of petrol subsidy by the government in Abuja during his presentation of the Nigeria Development Update, December 2023 Edition.

“It does seem like petrol prices are not fully adjusting to market conditions. So, that hints at the partial return of the subsidy if we estimate what is the cost reflective of the retail PMS price of the would-be and assume that importation is done at the official FX rate.

“Of course, the liberalisation is happening with the parallel rates, which is the main supplier, the price would be even higher. These are just estimates to give you a sense of what cost-reflective pricing most likely looks like.

“We think the price of petrol should be around N750/litre more than the N650/litre currently paid by Nigerians,” he stated.

Reacting to statement of the World Bank, the labour movement declared that a further hike in the price of fuel would be an automatic invitation to anarchy.

The NLC’s Head of Information, Upah, described the World Bank as a predatory institution that does not care about the welfare of Nigerians, stressing that the initial increment in the pump price of PMS had caused enough problems in Nigeria.

“The World Bank is globalist north in thoughts and actions and has little or no consideration for the global south. It is a predatory institution that the global north uses to justify its crimes against the south.

“It is almost single-handedly responsible for the ruination of the economies of countries of the global south for which it prescribes one solution for all ailments.

“It does not care what happens to Nigeria or Nigerians so it could from its perch in Washington say whatever it likes or push around our leaders like house-helps.

“The truth, however, remains that the present regime of the pump price of PMS has all but destroyed the country. To now ask the government to raise it to N750/litre is to invite anarchy upon the land.

“The World Bank is so hypocritical it fails to see the nexus between price and capacity. The minimum wage in Nigeria for a privileged few is N30,000. The same minimum wage in the United States where the law is enforced is N1.5m.

“In light of this, if the government knows what is good for it, it should ignore the World Bank but must remain committed to fighting inherent corruption in the downstream sector of the petroleum industry. It must also cut down the high cost of governance.”


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Labour fumes as FG stops N35,000 wage award payment

The organised Labour and the Federal Government are on a collision course over the government’s failure to sustain the payment of N35,000 wage award to workers.

Workers in the Federal Civil Service, in separate interviews with our correspondent on Monday, noted that the Federal Government only paid N35,000 wage award for September.

Following the removal of the fuel subsidy by President Bola Tinubu on his assumption of office, the Federal Government agreed to pay N35,000 to each of its workers to reduce the hardship caused by the subsidy removal.

The government, in a memo signed by the Chairman, National Salaries Wages and Income Commission, Ekpo Nta, stated that the payment of the wage award would begin to take effect from September 1, 2023.

However findings by our correspondent indicated that the government only paid the wage award for September.

A senior civil servant in one of the core ministries, departments and agencies said, “The wage award was only paid once and I assume that was the one for September. Since then, we have not received another. We all are confused as there has been no official communication from the government as regards the matter. We are all confused at the moment.”

Another civil servant, who spoke to our correspondent on the condition of anonymity, said, “What you heard is true. We have not received anything else other than the initial wage award which was paid. The government cannot continue to let the citizens suffer. Our takehome salaries cannot even take us home any longer at this point.”

Also speaking with our correspondent, a civil servant in one of the Federal Government-owned schools in Abuja noted that the workers were only paid the wage award for one month.

“We only received for one month which I assume was for September. Though the peculiar allowance introduced by the former administration is still being paid alongside our salaries, we have not received any such thing as a wage award. The government needs to stop playing games with our emotions.”

The Head of information at the Nigeria Labour Congress, Benson Upah, in an interview with our correspondent said, “This betrays the government’s dishonorable intentions and is completely unacceptable.”

When asked if the NLC would take action, he said, “Certainly, the congress will do something about this but what it will do will be dependent on the appropriate organs of the congress. On communication with the government, sure, we will. It usually precedes our actions.”

But the spokesperson for the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Bawa Mokwa, in an interview with our correspondent in Abuja on Monday allayed fears of civil servants. Mokwa noted that plans were ongoing to ensure that civil servants receive their wage awards.

“The process is ongoing. They will be paid. The process to pay the wage awards has commenced.”

Meanwhile, the Federal Government has budgeted  N1tn  for minimum wage adjustments, promotion arrears and severance benefits for civil servants, an analysis of the 2024 appropriation budget released by the Budget Office of the Federation has revealed.

This is as the head of information of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Upah further explained to our correspondent that the congress would kick against any form of imposition of a new minimum wage by the Federal Government.

 Upah told The PUNCH in Abuja that negotiations had yet to commence, but he expressed optimism that talks on the new minimum wage would start soon.

 “No, not yet but soon, I suppose,” Upah said when asked if the congress had received notice for the commencement of negotiations surrounding the new minimum wage.

Upah said, “ The national minimum wage law is a product of collective negotiation by all the critical stakeholders, workers, employers (plus private sector), and government. It cannot be fixed by fiat by any stakeholder. Thus, any unilateral action by any party will not only be presumptuous but contemptuous and injurious to other parties and will certainly be at variance with the law and principles governing this variant of minimum wage-setting procedure.”


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New minimum wage must reflect economic realities – NLC

Ahead of next year’s negotiation of a new minimum wage for workers in the country, the Nigeria Labour Congress has said only an amount reflective of the current economic realities will be accepted.

The NLC President,  Mr Joe Ajaero, stated this on Tuesday in Abuja at the 19th edition of the NLC 2023 Harmattan School.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Harmattan School is part of the NLC national schools where it trains and empowers members of its affiliated unions through skills development.

Ajaero, represented by the Vice President of NLC, Mr Benjamin Anthony, said it was necessary for government at all levels to recognise that life and living conditions were getting more difficult.

“The removal of subsidies on petroleum products has further worsened the challenges faced by working people. That is unleashing severe pain and contributing to galloping inflation and increasing inequality and poverty.

“We must reckon that a well-motivated and well-remunerated workforce has a positive impact on productivity and national development. As we anticipate the commencement of negotiations for the National Minimum Wage in 2024, we seek the understanding of all stakeholders to ensure that we use this opportunity to arrive at a minimum wage commensurate with the prevailing cost of living,”he said.

The NLC president said the ultimate goal of labour was a living wage that covers the cost of living and makes allowance savings.

Again, he condemned the recent assault on workers and their leaders in Imo State

“This is as enshrined in Section 40 of the 1999 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended and the ILO Conventions 87 and 98 on Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining.

“This should unequivocally be condemned by all people of goodwill. The only thing that can assuage our pains is for the Imo  government to address all labour issues.

“They are also to return the so-called ‘ghost workers’ to their jobs, pay all outstanding salaries and pensions and call back all victimised workers to their jobs,” he said.

The ILO Country Director, Nigeria, Dr Vanessa Phala,  said the world of work was undergoing rapid changes, driven by technological advances, and climate change, among others.

“Against this context, there is no better time than now for a serious and strategic reflection on the role that organised labour executes in policy engagement and dialogue,” Phala said.


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Labour kicks as FG slashes budgetary provision for wage award by N100bn

Labour unions, on Wednesday, lambasted the Federal Government for slashing the supplementary budgetary allocation for wage awards to federal civil servants by N100bn, warning that this was not the agreement they had with the government.

Data obtained from the newly Revised 2023 Supplementary Budget, indicated that the government swapped the controversial N5bn presidential yacht votes for Navy barges, increased the budget for defence from N476.54bn to N546.21bn and earmarked N20bn as capital supplementation for the National Intelligence Agency.

The PUNCH reports that the recently approved N2.1tn 2023 Supplementary Budget was marred with controversy following the discovery of seemingly extravagant items, forcing an amendment by the National Assembly.

In the proposed document, the four-month wage award was to cost the Federal Government around N210bn. However, the approved and newly revised document showed that it would now cost the Federal Government about N110bn.

Also in the revised budget, the Ministry of Defence budget rose from N476.54bn to N546.21bn, indicating an additional allocation of N69.67bn.

Under the ministry, the Nigerian Navy, which was earlier caught up in the controversial N5.095bn for the purchase of a presidential yacht, got an additional N25bn to its total allocation.

Its total allocation rose from N62.8bn in the proposed supplementary budget to N87.8bn in the approved document.

It also observed that the presidential yacht was replaced by the purchase of a self-propelled barge with the same amount of N5.095bn. Self-propelled barges are cargo-carrying vessels specifically engineered for operation on inland waterways.

The Nigerian Navy also got extra allocation for the construction of two buildings in Enugu and Ebonyi worth N3bn each.

About N19bn was also allocated for the purchase of two tugboats, which are used to pull or push other large ships for manoeuvring or salvage purposes.

The Defence Intelligence Agency got an extra N30bn to its total allocation, from N17.04bn in the proposed document to N47.04bn in the approved copy.

The PUNCH further observed that allocations to the Office of the National Security Adviser, headed by Nuhu Ribadu, increased by N20.3bn from N29.7bn to N50.02bn.

Similarly, the purchase of official vehicles for the office of the First Lady valued at N1.5bn remained in the budget, while the education loan fund for funding student loans was increased to N10bn from N5.5bn previously allotted.

Recall that the Federal Government, as part of steps to assuage labour unions, had granted a wage award of N35,000 to all Federal Government workers “beginning from September pending when a new national minimum wage is expected to have been signed into law.”

President Bola Tinubu had declared during his Independence Day speech that “low-grade workers” in the federal civil service would be awarded a wage of N25,000.

The amount was then increased to N35,000 following discussions with the organised labour unions. However, civil servants received a single payment of N35,000 for September only and not for two months as promised.

It is still unknown why the Federal Government decided to slash the allocation of wage awards for federal workers, but the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress warned that this would be resisted.

NLC, TUC warns govt

Commenting on the development, the Assistant General Secretary, Nigeria Labour Congress, Chris Onyeka, said the agreement was for the government to raise the wages of federal civil servants and not to reduce them.

He said, “Are you saying they cut down the wage awards by N100bn? Well, we have been talking about the high cost of governance and if they decided to reduce their bills by cutting down their numerous aides and assistants, that’s alright.

 “But if it is that they don’t want to pay workers what they are supposed to pay, then there is a problem. How can you subject workers to further reductions in their salaries? No way! We agreed to a wage award of N35,000 to all federal workers, so the wage award has to increase.”

Also speaking, the Head of Information, NLC, Benson Upah, said, “We were not informed before this was done. However, this behaviour is not inconsistent with the psychology of this government. It’s sad!”

The Trade Union Congress warned the Federal Government against playing games with the wage award for Nigerian workers.

The National Deputy President, TUC, Tommy Etim, said, “The government cannot play games with the wage award because it was an agreement reached with the organised labour and the instrument of agreement reached was deposited in the court.

“The government is the manager of funds and our business is to ensure compliance to the agreement is reached.”

Efforts to get the Presidency to speak on why the award was reduced were unsuccessful, as officials contacted at the villa could not provide any explanation at the time of filing this report.

Tinubu had during his Independence Day speech assured Nigerians that low-grade workers in the federal civil service would be awarded a provisional wage increase of N25,000 for the next six months.

The amount was then increased to N35,000 following discussions with organised labour organisations, as this led to an increase of the wage bill to N315bn.

The agreements made the organised labour suspend its proposed nationwide strike for 30 days, following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Federal Government.

But the NLC President, Joe Ajaero, had added a caveat that the unions would revisit the agreement if the Federal Government failed to fulfil their demands.

The PUNCH had reported that civil servants under the Consolidated Public Service Salary Structure received a single payment of N35,000 for September only and not for two months as promised.

“Yes, I did receive it. I saw the alert about 15 minutes ago. I think it is for September because the alert indicated September,” a civil servant, who spoke on condition of anonymity, had confirmed last month.

Another civil servant had said, “Yes, I have seen mine too but we are expecting to see another alert because the President said it would start from September. So maybe another one will come, which will read October.”

 With the accelerating inflation rate in Nigeria, workers had urged the Federal Government to give them fair compensation at the time it planned to review the minimum wage in Nigeria.

Workers, who spoke to The PUNCH, lamented that the escalating inflationary pressures were taking a serious toll on their finances, eroding their purchasing power.

A civil servant, who identified himself as Opeyemi, said the economic situation was becoming unbearable because most of the prices of food in the market had increased.

He claimed the amount he spent weekly on transport fares to the office had tripled.

He noted that though the Lagos State Government had promised some palliatives, he was not sure if other workers in other states were receiving that also.


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Jubilation in BUK as Organised Labour suspends industrial strike

Some students of Bayero University, Kano on Wednesday night took to the streets within the university to celebrate the decision of the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress to suspend the nationwide strike.

The PUNCH reports that the university management on Tuesday suspended the ongoing 2022/2023 first-semester examinations and all other academic activities till further notice.

The suspension of the examinations followed the nationwide strike embarked upon by NLC and TUC and the subsequent decision by the university unions to join the strike.

One of the students told The PUNCH in a telephone interview that the students felt elated as a result of suspending the strike, and lauded the NLC and TUC for ending the strike.

“We also commend the National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu, for his intervention in the crisis,” the student said.

He said most of the students especially those who have yet to finish their examinations were happy about the suspension of the strike.


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Strike: We’ve shocked FG – Organised labour

The Trade Union Congress (TUC) and Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) have said that their decision to embark on a nationwide strike had come as a shock to the Federal Government.

National Vice President of TUC Tommy Etim disclosed this following the labour unions’ meeting with the National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu, on Wednesday.

He further revealed that NLC and TUC will hold a joint extraordinary national executive council meeting later today.

“We commend the steps taken so far by the NSA. He made us understand that he didn’t see the issue on the ground as a political fight.

“He also noted that two people have been arrested in line with the brutalisation of Ajaero.

“Initially, the government felt the strike would not hold. They were shocked to see that we went ahead with our threats.

“We are going to have an extraordinary joint NEC this evening by 7 pm and I can tell you there is hope,” he said.

DAILY POST earlier reported that the Minister of Labour, Simon Bako Lalong, and the Minister of State for Labour, Hon. Nkeiruka Onyeajeocha, met with the striking unions on Wednesday.

(Daily Post)

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FG meets labour leaders as nationwide strike begins today

The Minister of Labour, Employment and Productivity, Simon Lalong, has convened a meeting with labour leaders as the nationwide strike begins.

Our correspondent learnt that leaders of the Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress are expected at the meeting holding on Tuesday (today).

A source familiar with the matter disclosed this to our correspondent on Monday night.

“The minister has convened a meeting with the Labour leaders for Tuesday,”  the source simply said.

The labour unions had, on Monday, ordered their affiliates to withdraw their services nationwide from midnight on November 14, 2023.

TUC President, Festus Osifo, disclosed this while addressing journalists in Abuja..

Osifo said the strike would remain until “government at all levels wake up to their responsibility.”

The strike is also to protest the battering of the NLC President, Joe Ajaero, and some other executives of the congress in Owerri, Imo State, on November 1, as well as the pending labour issues in Imo State.

Ajaero was arrested by the police ahead of a state-wide protest in Imo, as disclosed by the NLC’s Head of Information, Benson Upah.

Although the police denied arresting Ajaero, stating that he was merely taken into protective custody to prevent a mob attack, the Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma, accused the labour leader of meddling in the political affairs of the state.

The NLC and TUC later wrote their affiliates such as the Academic Staff Union of Universities, National Union of Electricity Employees, Nigeria Union of Teachers, Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria and Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics among others ahead of the nationwide strike.

The letter to the affiliates was jointly signed by the National Secretary, NLC, Emmanuel Ugboaja and the Secretary General of the Trade Union Congress, Nuhu Toro.

The letter read, “In furtherance to the decision of the Joint National Executive Council of NLC and TUC, all workers in Nigeria are hereby directed to withdraw their services effective 12 midnight today, November 13, 2023.

“Consequently, all affiliates and state councils of NLC/TUC are directed to issue circulars for maximum compliance and these circulars be made available to the National Secretariats or posted to the NEC and WC Whatsapp platforms.

“While we shall update you with developments as they unfold, do remain assured of our commitment to Nigerian workers and people.”

Meanwhile, the Presidency has described the planned strike as an attempt to blackmail the government.

The Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, in a statement on Monday said the planned action is an abuse of privilege and one that contravenes a restraining order by the Industrial Court against the strike.

He noted that Ajaero’s assault in Imo though condemnable is a personal issue that shouldn’t force the whole country into punishment.

The statement read,  “This decision by the NLC and TUC other than being an ego-tripping move is clearly unwarranted. It is an attempt to blackmail the government by the leadership of the NLC.

“We are still at a loss as to why the NLC and TUC decided to punish a whole country of over 200million people over a personal matter involving the NLC President, Mr. Joe Ajaero, whose error of judgment led to assault on him in Owerri while he was planning to incite the workers in Imo State into a needless strike.

“While the Federal government does not condone any form of violence and assault on any citizen of Nigeria regardless of his or her social and economic status, it is on record that the Inspector General of Police has ordered an investigation into what happened to Ajaero while the Commissioner of Police in Imo State under whose watch the incident happened has been transferred out of the state.

“Calling out workers on a national strike over a personal issue of a labour leader despite a clear court order against any industrial action amounts to an abuse of privilege. Power at any level should never be used to settle personal scores. Rather, it should be used to promote collective progress and advance national interest.”

The statement added that the strike action is a sinister move to cause further hardship on the masses, noting that the labour movement should not be seen as one that shows disdain against the rule of law.

“Our national economy and social activities should not suffer because of the personal interest of any labour leader.

“This flagrant disobedience to a court order and lack of respect for the judiciary should not be what the organised Labour would champion.

“The labour movement has always been a champion of the rule of law and respect for the judiciary. It is a sad irony that the current labour leaders have shown disdain and utter disregard for the court orders.

“We reiterate that this strike action is illegal, immoral, unjustifiable and irresponsible. What the strike notice issued Monday night after official hours suggests is it’s designed for a sinister and hidden agenda to cause undue hardship and civil disturbance in our country. This is unacceptable,” it concluded.


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Proposed Strike: Respect court order, FG tells labour unions

The Federal Government has called on the leadership of the Nigerian Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress to respect  court order and shelve the proposed strike.

The unions had after an extraordinary National Executive Council meeting on Tuesday in Abuja declared a total nationwide strike from November 14, 2023.

The unions based its decision on the  assault on the NLC National President, Joe Ajaero, in Imo State.

However, the Federal Government, the Attorney General of the Federation, and the Minister of Justice filed an ex-parte application praying  the court to stop the unions from embarking on the planned strike.

In his ruling, the President of the Court, Justice Benedict Kanyip, cited Sections 17 and 19 of the National Industrial Court Act and ordered the unions to stop their nationwide strike.

But the labour leaders on Monday insisted on going on strike despite the court order.

In a statement on Monday night,
the Special Assistant Communication and Publicity to the AGF and Minister of Justice,  Kamarudeen Ogundele, told the union leaders that any action contrary to the court order would lead to contempt of court.

The statement read,  “We wish to remind the Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress that there is a subsisting court order stopping the unions and their affiliates from embarking on the strike.

“The interim order was granted on November 10 by the President of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, Justice B. B. Kanyip.

“The unions have been served the court order and, therefore, must surrender themselves to the authority of the court which is already seized with the facts of the case.

“Any action taken contrary to the order will be tantamount to contempt of court.

“We use this medium to urge the unions to respect the court order and adhere to the principle of the rule of law. There is no need to resort to self-help.

“We urge workers to report for duties and not to entertain any fear as their safety is guaranteed and will be protected within the ambit of law. “


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NLC, TUC declare strike Wednesday to protest attack on NLC president, Ajaero

The organised labour comprising of the Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria has declared a plan for a nationwide strike over the beating and abduction of their President, Joe Ajaero.

The strike scheduled to be held on Wednesday, November 8, 2023, was made known in a press briefing on Friday.

According to the leaders of the joint union, the Federal Government is given a six-point demand, including the immediate removal of the Commissioner of Police, Imo State, and Area Commander, among other officials, for their alleged complicity in the brutalisation and humiliation of Ajaero and other workers.

The PUNCH reports that Ajaero has been whisked away by the Police at a protest on non-payment of workers by the Imo State Government in the state’s capital.

Reacting to the arrest, NLC accused the Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma, of conspiring with the state’s Commissioner of Police, Muhammed Barde, to ‘abduct’ their President, Joe Ajaero, on Wednesday.

NLC said that the Imo State government has continued to use what it described as ‘the instrument of violence and intimidation’ against trade unions and their leadership in the state, adding that they had only asked the governor to pay the salaries owed to the state workers.

In a statement titled, ”The President of Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Joe Ajaero has been abducted by Hope Uzodimma and the Imo State Police Commissioner’ signed by the joint Unions’ Secretaries, Emmanuel Ugboaja (NLC) and Nuhu Toro (TUC) and made available to PUNCH Online on Wednesday, they frowned at the detention of Ajaero stressing the need for President Bola Tinubu’s intervention.

The statement partly read, “Just as Nigerian workers gathered earlier this morning led by the leadership of the two Labour centres to demonstrate our outrage over the serial and habitual abuse and violation of the rights of workers in the state, the government unleashed blood-curdling mayhem on the workers.

But state’s Police Command and the governor denied arresting Ajaero in separate statements.

The police claimed the NLC President was in Warri as part of the Congress’s plans to organise labourers for a massive protest demonstration in the state.

During the planning stages, there were reports of proposals to lock down some crucial facilities, mainly the airport in the state.

Meanwhile, the state’s commissioner for Information and Strategy, Declan Emelumba, claimed that the governor has no hand in Ajaero’s arrest, adding, “Those accusing the government were perennial mischief makers always crying wolf where there is none.”

More details later…


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