Re­lief for Nige­ri­ans as Labour sus­pends strike

• Buhari gets re­port to­day • Panic buy­ing in La­gos, oth­ers • Govt woos ASUU to ne­go­ti­a­tion ta­ble

The Guardian (Nigeria) - - FRONT PAGE -

From Collins Olayinka, Ter­hemba Daka, Nkechi Onyedika-ugoeze, An­thony Otaru, Matthew Ogune, Kanayo Umeh (Abuja), Muyiwa Adeyemi, Sun­day Ag­bolu­aje (Ibadan) and Iyabo Lawal (La­gos)

THE Nige­ria Labour Con­gress (NLC) and the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment yes­ter­day suc­ceeded in averting what could have been a com­plete lock­down of the econ­omy over dis­agree­ment on mini- mum wage for work­ers. The pro­tracted ne­go­ti­a­tion be­tween gov­ern­ment and the work­ers’ rep­re­sen­ta­tives saved the day, lead­ing to sus­pen­sion of a na­tion­wide strike that would have be­gun at mid­night to­day. At 10.30 p.m, there were un­con­firmed re­ports in­di­cat­ing that air­port work­ers union had al­ready an­nounced stop­page of in­ter­na­tional flights.

Led by the NLC Pres­i­dent Ayuba Wabba, the or­ga­nized Labour had in­sisted on a N30,000 min­i­mum wage for work­ers in the coun­try as against gov­ern­ment’s N24,000.

But Ayuba last night an­nounced a sus­pen­sion of the pro­posed ac­tion af­ter the work­ers got what looked like a con­ces­sion from the gov­ern­ment team led by the Sec­re­tary to the Gov­ern­ment of the Fed­er­a­tion (SGF), Boss Mustapha. Al­though Wabba could not di­vulge the agreed amount, he said the work of the tri­par­tite com­mit­tee had been con­cluded and that the re­port would be sub­mit­ted to Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari at 4.15 pm to­day (Tues­day).

Asked to dis­close the amount agreed upon by the tri­par­tite com­mit­tee, Wab-

goods from the port to al­ter­na­tive ter­mi­nals.

In a state­ment at the end of its meet­ing in Osogbo, the Osun State cap­i­tal, yes­ter­day, the fo­rum re­it­er­ated its com­mit­ment to re­gional in­te­gra­tion as a key to sus­tain­able devel­op­ment in west­ern Nige­ria. The state­ment, read by the Sec­re­tary to the Ek­iti State Gov­ern­ment Bio­dun Oye­bamibi (who rep­re­sented Gov­er­nor Kay­ode Fayemi), urged the Devel­op­ment Agenda for West­ern Nige­ria (DAWN) com­mis­sion to ini­ti­ate pro­cesses to tackle de­cline in crit­i­cal sec­tors in the re­gion.

Gov­er­nor Ibikunle Amo­sun of Ogun State and his Ondo State coun­ter­part, Ro­timi Ak­eredolu were ab­sent from the meet­ing and were not rep­re­sented.

La­gos State gov­er­nor, Ak­in­wumi Am­bode, was rep­re­sented by his deputy, Mrs. Idiat Ade­bule. The Oyo State gov­er­nor, Abi­ola Aji­mobi, was also rep­re­sented by his deputy, Moses Adeyemo.

The fo­rum said the re­cent re­port by the United Na­tions Chil­dren Fund (UNICEF) on out-of-school chil­dren in Nige­ria should be ad­dressed prop­erly. It urged the Odu’a In­vest­ment Group to cham­pion food se­cu­rity in the re­gion. The fo­rum also asked the DAWN com­mis­sion to en­gage in­sti­tu­tions and devel­op­ment part­ners in ac­cess­ing soil fea­tures in the re­gion to boost agri­cul­ture.

“A re­al­is­tic bal­ance be- tween gov­er­nance, com­pet­ing lo­cal in­ter­ests and prof­itabil­ity must be of ut­most con­sid­er­a­tion in fac­tor­ing Odu’a In­vest­ment Group’s pres­ence in states. Re­gional in­te­gra­tion as a model for sus­tain­able devel­op­ment is in the en­light­ened in­ter­est of West­ern Nige­ria and the peo­ple should es­chew di­vi­sive el­e­ments and ac­tions,” the fo­rum said.

The host, Osun State Gov­er­nor Rauf Aregbesola urged the fo­rum to show greater com­mit­ment to re- gional in­te­gra­tion. He said this was key to cre­at­ing a for­mi­da­ble front to en­hance devel­op­ment.

He re-echoed calls for re­struc­tur­ing of the coun­try and urged mem­ber states to re­move bar­ri­ers to quick devel­op­ment. His deputy, Titi Laoye To­mori, urged the fo­rum to use agri­cul­ture as a means to en­gag­ing youths and women in the re­gion.

Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari mean­while re­stated his ad­min­is­tra­tion’s com­mit­ment to de­vel­op­ing the coun­try’s trans­port and power in­fra­struc­ture.

He spoke when he re­ceived mem­bers of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Re­tired Ca­reer Am­bas­sadors of Nige­ria (AR­CAN) led by their pres­i­dent, Oladapo Fafowora.

Buhari, ac­cord­ing to his Spe­cial Ad­viser on Me­dia and Public­ity, Femi Adesina, told the re­tired am­bas­sadors that Nige­ri­ans will never for­get the “lost op­por­tu­nity be­tween 1999 and 2015,” when the na­tion had huge re­sources at its dis­posal. He said: “There is no part of the coun­try I haven’t been to, hav­ing at­tempted to be pres­i­dent four times. I know the con­di­tion of our roads. The rails were lit­er­ally killed. There was no power de­spite the ad­mit­tance by some pre­vi­ous lead­er­ship that they spent $16 bil­lion on the sec­tor.

“To­day, we are get­ting our pri­or­i­ties right and we be­lieve that of the three fun­da­men­tal is­sues we cam­paigned on – se­cu­rity, the econ­omy and fight­ing cor­rup­tion - we have re­mained very rel­e­vant and Nige­ri­ans be­lieve we have achieved some­thing.”

Buhari also used the oc­ca­sion to ap­pre­ci­ate the Peo­ple’s Re­pub­lic of China for fi­nanc­ing some of the rail and power projects in the coun­try through con­ces­sion­ary loans. “I will do my best to see that where there are pos­si­bil­i­ties of mak­ing a quick im­prove­ment on in­fra­struc­ture, we will do it,” he said.

The pres­i­dent took note of some con­cerns raised by the re­tired am­bas­sadors in­clud­ing an ap­peal for the ad­just­ment of their pen­sion en­ti­tle­ments, re­ten­tion of diplo­matic pass­port for re­tired ca­reer am­bas­sadors, al­lo­ca­tion of land for AR­CAN head­quar­ters in Abuja and ad­e­quate fund­ing of the for­eign af­fairs min­istry.

Oyo State Deputy Gov­er­nor, Otunba Moses Adeyemo (left); his coun­ter­parts, Idiat Olu­ranti Ade­bule (La­gos); Otunba Grace Titi-laoye To­mori (Oyo); Osun State Gov­er­nor Og­beni Rauf Aregbesola; Osun State Gov­er­nor-elect, Gboyega Oyetola and Sec­re­tary to the State Gov­ern­ment of Ek­iti, Abio­dun Oye­banji, dur­ing the West­ern Nige­ria Gov­er­nor Fo­rum at the Gov­ern­ment House, Osogbo …yes­ter­day.

Sec­re­tary to the Gov­ern­ment of the Fed­er­a­tion (SGF), Boss Mustapha (left); Chair­man, Tri­par­tite Com­mit­tee on the new Na­tional Min­i­mum Wage, Ms Amal Pep­ple; and Pres­i­dent of the Nige­ria Labour Con­gress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, brief­ing the me­dia on the pro­posed na­tion­wide strike by work­ers in Abuja…yes­ter­day.

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