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NLC Shuns FG Subsidy Removal Meeting As Electricity Workers Back Strike

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The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Sunday shunned a meeting called by the Federal Government to discuss the subsidy removal and the attendant hike in fuel pump prices across the country.

The union insisted that it would not hold any dialogue with the government representatives unless a legitimate team was set up.

However, the Trade Union Congress officials attended the meeting which was a follow-up to the talks held with the NLC at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, last week, which ended in a deadlock.

This is as the electricity workers vowed to join the strike and plunge the nation into a blackout in protest against the removal of fuel subsidy by the Bola Tinubu administration.

The National Treasurer of the NLC, Hakeem Ambali, confirmed the decision of the union to boycott the meeting which was a follow-up to the Wednesday meeting on the removal of subsidy.

During the meeting attended by the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, Managing Director, Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation Limited, Mele Kyari, Dele Alake, and others, the NLC had insisted on the reversal of the fuel pump price pegged at between N488 and N540.

Following the breakdown of talks, the congress resolved at its NEC meeting held on Friday to embark on a nationwide strike.

Speaking to The PUNCH on Sunday, Ambali explained that like the TUC, the NLC was invited for a follow-up meeting at the State House following the earlier meeting which ended in a deadlock.

He hinted that the union did not attend the talks because the government representatives had no official mandate or authority to negotiate for the President.

“It was an adjourned meeting, a follow-up to the last one. However, the NLC insisted that we would be ready to negotiate with a team that has legitimacy and official mandate to negotiate for President Tinubu,” he stated.

Shedding light on the NLC’s boycott of the session, the National President of the congress, Joe Ajaero, contended that the meeting was of no consequence to the congress.

Speaking in an interview on Arise television on Sunday, Ajaero said, “Of what use is today’s meeting? As of Tuesday night, I had a meeting with the president of the TUC and some other government officials. I told the NNPCL MD that any move to increase the pump price would be taken as war.

“They went ahead to announce. We told them to return to the status quo so that negotiations will continue but up till now, they have not done that. So what are we going to the meeting to do?

“We are not making any progress and this is because we are still at the same point. The issue of alternatives and subsidies are things we have discussed over time and our position has been made public but the government appears not to be interested in our position.”

Speaking on media reports about factions of the NLC opposed to the strike, Ajaero said, “On Friday, all affiliates of the NLC agreed that we should take the next line of action. We don’t have northern NLC or southern NLC. If any media house has proof, let them bring it forward.”

In a notice issued on Sunday, the National Union of Electricity Employees also threatened to join the strike action.

Already, the NUEE has directed its members to withdraw their services nationwide over the sudden removal of the fuel subsidy by the FG.

The NUEE in a notice signed by its acting General Secretary, Dominic Igwebike, urged its members to comply with the directive and stop work from the early hours of Wednesday.

The union said its decision was a sequel to the directive from the NLC.

“To this effect, all national, state, and chapter executives are requested to start the mobilisation of our members in total compliance with this directive,” the statement said.

It further added, “Please note that withdrawal of Services nationwide commences from 0.00 hours of Wednesday, June 7, 2023.

“You are encouraged to work with the leadership of State Executive Councils of the Congress in your various states with a view to having a successful action.’’

As the Federal Government was scrambling to avert the strike, various state chapters of the NLC on Sunday started mobilising their members for the strike on Wednesday as directed by the leadership of the union.

The Lagos State chapter of the union endorsed the strike declared by the NLC leadership despite pleas by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

The NLC Chairman in Lagos State, Funmi Sessi, said the chapter was “in full support of the strike.”

Sessi, who said the NLC was not against subsidy removal, stressed that the congress was concerned about the masses and the effect the abrupt removal of subsidy would have on them.

She stated, “We are part of the NLC NEC’s decision to embark on a nationwide strike from Wednesday. If the Federal Government does not caution the NNPCL to revert to the old pump price, the strike will go on as planned.

“The pump price must be reversed, then the Federal Government should afterward invite the NLC and stakeholders to dialogue over the issue. We are part of this decision in Lagos, and we are in full support of the strike.”

Like his Lagos counterpart, the Chairman of NLC in Nasarawa State, Ayuba Okok, said the workers in the state would participate in the strike action.

Addressing journalists after an emergency meeting of the State Executive Council held in Lafia on Sunday, Oko stated that he had directed all affiliates of the union in the state to mobilise their members preparatory to the strike.

Similarly, the Bayelsa State Council of the NLC said that it had asked the state workers to prepare to join the strike.

The state NLC secretary, John Angese, who stated this in a telephone chat with The Punch correspondent on Sunday, said the state council was against the removal of oil subsidy by the Federal Government.

The Punch

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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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