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NLC Insists on Strike As Meeting with FG Deadlocked

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In a race to beat the deadline for the planned commencement of an indefinite strike that may lead to the shutdown of the economy, the Federal Government on Monday held a meeting with organised labour on post-subsidy removal palliatives for workers.

The parley, hosted by the Minister of Labour, Simon Lalong, in Abuja, however, failed to reach a consensus as the Nigerian Labour Congress insisted that the FG must meet its demands ahead of the 21-day ultimatum issued on September 1 by the congress.

The union had on September 1 handed down the 21-day ultimatum to the FG over the delay in sharing of palliatives, saying it might be compelled to declare an indefinite labour action if its demands were not met.

In furtherance of its demands, the NLC mobilised workers for a two-day warning strike on September 5 and 6, partially grounding social and economic activities in several states with banks, ministries, agencies and departments closed to the public in some states.

The NLC leadership had said the action was in preparation for a total shutdown of the economy which would start at the expiration of the ultimatum on Friday.

Among other demands, the NLC and the Trade Union Congress were asking for wage awards, implementation of palliatives, tax exemptions and allowances to the public sector workers and a review of the minimum wage.

Though the FG made a commitment to restructure the framework for engagement with organised Labour on palliatives, the eight-week timeframe set for the conclusion of the process expired in August with no action whatsoever.

Briefing journalists at the end of the meeting on Monday, both parties pledged to find solutions to the key demands tabled before the government by the organised labour before the deadline.

Lalong said many of the items presented by Labour were still under consideration before the final agreement.

The minister stated, “Our meeting was very robust. It was a fruitful meeting. Many of the items presented by labour are still under consideration before the final agreement or discussions.

“It was a fruitful meeting. I thank the NLC for coming to the meeting and for their very useful contributions.”

The President of the NLC, Joe Ajaero, also described the meeting as fruitful but said only the Presidency could take decisions on the demands presented to the government

Ajaero said the organised labour was ready to meet with the government any time of the day to find solutions to its demands and avert the planned strike.

The NLC president said, “Like the minister said we had a fruitful deliberation and we have agreed to continue to make sure we arrive at meaningful agreement within the remaining days of the ultimatum.

“We equally discussed frankly the issue bordering the coup floated and executed by the Nigeria Police against the National Union of Road Transport Workers which has led to the detention of their democratically elected national officers and both parties agreed to show concern towards the resolution of the matter.

‘’It is one sore area that the trade union movement in Nigeria is not ready to compromise. Whether a coup in the trade union movement or in the polity. It must be condemned; whether it is in Niger Republic, Congo or Mali or in the trade union movement in Nigeria.

“On the other issue, you can see that there is no agreement or implementation on any. There is no CNG anywhere. Refineries are not working. No agreement on wage award. Those are the issues we believe that something will happen before the ultimatum expires. It is possible that something will happen.’’

He further explained, “We had a convivial deliberation with the minister and we hope that even if it is remaining one day, we will get to the root of all these problems. Whenever we are invited, we will be there. Both parties will work towards the realisation of these objectives before the last minute of the ultimatum.

“There is a larger committee that has set up technical committees. The ministry has performed its role to mediate and conciliate in the problem between us and the Federal Government. There is an inter-ministerial committee at the Presidency level which is supposed to address these issues.

“The ministry of labour can’t address wage award, the issue of CNG, refineries and others. The ministry has mediated to ensure that there is no problem or get both parties to resolve these issues. We are ready to engage the government whether in the night or day; we are ready to engage but not at gunpoint.”

Before the meeting went into a closed-door session, Ajaero had said the two – day warning strike declared on September 5 and 6 by the NLC was “a product of frustration caused by the economic situation in the country.”

The labour leader complained that “none of the demands put before the federal government had been addressed.”

He lamented the lack of trust between the government and the union in the negotiation process.

Ajaero stated, “We came with mixed feelings whether it will work or not because we have had many meetings, some beyond this level, yet nothing seems to be coming out of it.

‘’But I have great optimism in the Nigerian project; we can’t stop trying. We are here with that belief that something may happen. But that doubt, that trust gap is what we feared for a long time now and it calls for lamentation.

“The strike is an effect of a policy that doesn’t have a human face. There was no strike before the removal of fuel subsidy. It was the government that said ‘ask for palliatives, ask for wages’ and we have asked for it; that warning strike was a product of frustration, up till this moment.’’

Ajaero bemoaned the adverse impact of the fuel subsidy withdrawal on Nigerians, stressing that the NLC would not rush into a strike without justifications.

He added, “We must work together to ensure that we don’t keep on dragging these issues. It is the Nigerian people that are being affected, they are the people that are suffering. We have a lot of demands that we have put on paper for the government.

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Cyril Ramaphosa Re-elected As South African President

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The South African Parliament has, during its first sitting of the 7th Parliament on Friday, re-elected Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa as the President of the Republic of South Africa. He has been re-elected to serve a second term as the President.

Thia was hours after his African National Congress and the Democratic Alliance (DA) agreed to form a coalition, setting aside their rivalry in a historic governance pact.

In terms of the Constitution, the National Assembly must, at its first sitting after its election, elect a woman or a man from among its members to be the President.

Mr. Ramaphosa was elected with 283 votes against Mr Julius Malema with 44 votes. The Constitution states that when elected President, a person ceases to be a member of the National Assembly and, within five days, must assume office by swearing or affirming faithfulness to the Republic and obedience to the Constitution.

The President-elect will be inaugurated during a ceremony in Pretoria which, according to the Constitution, should take place within five days after the President’s election.

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Finidi George Resigns As Super Eagles Coach

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Newly appointed Super Eagles coach, Finidi George, has resigned his appointment,  according to a post by ex-Super Eagles media officer, Toyin Ibitoye on X.com on Saturday.

He wrote, “News just in. Finidi George #FinidiGeorge_FG has resigned from his #NGSuperEagles manager position.”

The resignation follows the Nigeria Football Federation’s (NFF) decision to appoint a foreign coach to oversee him, despite his recent appointment in May.

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Appeal Court Insists Amaewhule, 26 Others Not Members of Rivers House of Assembly

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The Court of Appeal in Abuja, on Friday, refused to set aside a judgment ordering the removal of Martins Chike Amaewhule and 26 others as members of the Rivers State House of Assembly.

Justice Charles Wali of the Rivers State High Court, Port Harcourt, on May 30 declared the seats of the 27 lawmakers who dumped the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC) in October last year vacant.

The judge, who delivered the ruling in a suit filed by the Speaker of the Assembly, Victor Oko Jumbo, and two others, also restrained Amaewhule from parading himself as Speaker of the Assembly.

Dissatisfied with the verdict, the aggrieved lawmakers approached the appellate court to set it aside.

However, at a virtual hearing of the matter on Friday, a three-member panel of the appellate court declared that the reversal of the lower court ruling would amount to pre-judging the appeal currently before it.

The panel, thereafter, fixed June 20 for the hearing of the appeal filed by the lawmakers in their quest to regain their seats in the Assembly.

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