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No More Hardship on Nigerians, Buhari Declares

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By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja 

President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday assured Nigerians that the Federal Government would not inflict additional hardship on citizens

Rather, he said his administration would keep seeking ways to ameliorate the sufferings of Nigerians by creating a more enabling environment for everyone to thrive.

President Buhari made the declaration when he received the new executive of Trade Union Congress led by its President, Comrade Quadri Olaleye, at the State House, Abuja.

The President said the Federal Government remains committed to the implementation of the national minimum wage, pointing out that the inaugural Federal Executive Council meeting held on Wednesday, focused on the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework, which included discussions around the new minimum wage.

He said, “On fuel prices, I agree with you on the need to eliminate corruption and inefficiencies in the sector. I want to assure you that, as an Administration, we have no intention of inflicting any additional hardship on Nigerians,’’

“During our first term, we secured the nation’s territorial integrity and continue to protect the lives and properties of our citizens. We introduced various economic stimulus packages that support businesses and traders at all levels, promoted backward integration programmes especially in the agricultural sector to enhance our food security while creating jobs.

“We embarked on the most ambitious infrastructure development and rehabilitation projects this country has seen in decades. We also introduced the largest Social Investment Program in Sub-Saharan Africa.

“Although these programs and many more successfully lifted Nigeria out of recession, the full impact is yet to be felt. In the next four years, we shall sustain this momentum and by the grace of God, lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty,’’ he said.

Buhari, who noted that his administration will work hard to improve the livelihood of citizens, said most of the inherited challenges were avoidable, if some previous governments had been keener on investing on infrastructure and human capacity.

“The points you raised are all interconnected. The lack of power and infrastructure due to decades of under-investment led to the closure or inefficient operations of a number of factories across the country. This meant the private sector was unable to create jobs fast enough to cope with our increasing population.

“You will agree with me that, all these challenges and many more were long ago left unattended to, thereby leaving the country in the mired state we inherited. You all will also testify to having seen and experienced what we have put in place as an administration to address these challenges,’’ the President added.

In his remarks, the President of TUC advised the Federal Government to pay more attention on the welfare of Nigerians by avoiding increase of fuel price and ensuring implementation of the National Minimum Wage, which had been delayed by negotiations on the consequential adjustments.

“We are, however, disturbed that the enthusiasm is turning into a nightmare,’’ he said, urging the President to focus on poverty reduction and improving security.

Olaleye assured the President that TUC will support the government as it tackles challenges facing the country, commending him for increasing the internally generated revenue, steps on the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.

Labour

Tribute to Chief Frank Kokori

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By Joe Ajaero

We at the Nigeria Labour Congress are deeply saddened by the passing away of Chief Frank Kokori at 80. Our hearts are with his biological  family and the NUPENG family where he was General Secretary. To them and other associates, we offer our condolences.

Chief Frank Kokori was Executive Secretary of OMPADEC which later metamorphosed into NDDC among other national appointments held by him.

He was announced as  Chairman of  the board  of  NSITF but denied that role by some of the powers that be.
He instead chaired the board of Michael Imoudou National  Institute of Labour Studies (MINILS) where he made his impact.
This was his last national assignment.

 Chief Frank Kokori will be remembered for many things but top on that list was  being among the Labour leaders that gave their all in order for our  country to have democracy.

For his  stoic and heroic struggle for the enthronement of democracy, he was arrested and detained by the military  alongside other Labour leaders  for spells  of time under inhumane conditions.

Before his arrest and detention by the Abacha -government, Kokori was in the vanguard of Labour leaders who fashioned an alliance with the Social Democratic Party (SDP) on the understanding that then Congress President, Comrade Pascal Bafyau (now of blessed memory) would be vice president to Chief Abiola. Although Chief Abiola (due to circumstances) beyond his control) did not keep that part of the bargain, organised labour gave him their generous and unflinching support. This, coupled with Chief Abiola’ s own credentials gave him coast to coast victory at the polls in the freest election in the history of the country.

Nigeria Labour Congress was similarly  in the vanguard of national resistance when the military scuttled Chief Abiola’ s election or victory. It was in execution of that resistance that Chief Kokori among other Labour leaders was  arrested and incarcerated while others were hounded out of the country. The “lucky” ones were only put on the security watch list and were routinely harassed at their homes, airports and at public functions considered by the State to be subversive. At the risk of sounding immodest, among those arrested and incarcerated at such functions at Ilorin were Comrades Joe Ajaero and Chris Uyot, Deputy General of Congress. There were several others who suffered differing indignities for fighting for democracy.

Even while some of its leaders were in detention with Chief Abiola,  Labour leaders did not give up on their struggle for enthronement of popular democracy. 

For their  “obduracy”, the organised labour paid a heavy price. The  Nigeria Labour Congress and NUPENG for instance, were  illegally dissolved by the military and their assets seized. Sole Administrators were appointed to oversee their affairs until 1999!

It is in light of this that we find it a big irony  that those who collaborated with the military yesterday while Labour was in the trenches would have the audacity to say today that Labour has no business in politics. It is a shame they are allowed to eat  their cake and have it because quite a number of them  through the roof or the back door are in government or positions of influence.  And clearly, the  dilemmna in which we have found ourselves as a people and as a nation cannot be divorced from this  syndrome of opportunism and messiah complex…same faces, same cases, same places ( Akinola Aguda).

Chief Kokori, a dogged and fearless fighter has played his role and gone, history has the next chapter. 

Meanwhile, while the wheel of history turns, we urge the federal government and the Government of Delta State to immortalise him, for what is good for the goose is good for the gander.

 Comrade Joe Ajaero is President, Nigeria Labour Congress(NLC)

      President

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Aviation

Passengers Stranded as NLC Locks Down Abuja Airport

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By Idris Umar Feta Abuja

Many air travellers were left stranded following the closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, by officials of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Thursday.

A combined team of NLC and Trade Union Congress (TUC) blocked both the entry and exit ways of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport.

The protest was part of the series of actions that the two labour unions say they would zero in on Imo, following the attack on the NLC president, Joe Ajaero.

The NLC and TUC had on Tuesday, declared a nationwide strike, which will commence on Tuesday, November 14, due to the face-off with the Imo State Government.

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Strike: FG Okays 30 Days Implementation of MoU with Labour

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The Federal Executive Council, FEC, on Wednesday approved a 30 day implementation plan for the Memorandum of Understanding, MoU between the Federal Government and the Organized Labour.

The government also is taking a decision against any external interference in unions activities by external bodies.

This is as the Minister of Labour and Employment, Simon Lalong alongside the Minister of State, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha have met with the factional leaderships of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW.

Briefing State House correspondents at the end of the Federal Executive Council, FEC, presided over by President Bola Tinubu, at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja, Lalong said a Memorandum was presented to the council on the implementation of the agreement with labour.

He said, “We presented a memo from the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment and the memo was basically on the agreement between government and the labour. You are already aware that 15 items are parts of the agreement.

“But we went beyond mere agreement, we told them that something different this time is happening because one, part of the agreement is to file it in the court of law which we have set the process already.

“And the other one was the presidential approval. There cannot be any presidential approval more than the Federal Executive Council. So we presented them to the Federal Executive Council. We analyzed each and every aspect of the agreement and to show the genuineness and also provide for harmonious and good industrial relationship and that was why it was presented and it was approved for implementation.

“It was agreed that within 30 days, there must be evidence of implementation and that was the basis of presenting to the Federal Executive Council the memo and the Federal Executive Council also approved it and within this 30 days, we will go on with the implementation of the agreement between labour and government.”

Fielding on the item six of the MoU which was the government alleged interference in the activities of the democratically elected leadership of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW and the mandate to him (Lalong) to resolve the crisis in the union on or before October 13, the Minister said he had already met with the various factions

He said, “Item six in the MoU is about interference specifically with issues that were about road transport workers. Immediately the next day, we embarked on meetings between the two organisations.

“As of today, they have already reached out and have concluded that of Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria, RTEAN, today they are making a report to the ministry about their agreement because they went into agreement too and we are also going to get back to their parent association.

“The next one is the NURTW. Last week we were with them. Of course if some of you were there, you knew why we postponed it, I reminded them that we are keeping to the date of the agreement but they said they cannot strictly keep to the date because it is very important to them that we realized the aim. So we shifted the meeting till tomorrow. Today, we are going to get the report, by tomorrow we will fix a meeting.

“The reason why we presented these items to the Federal Executive Council is for them to note and approve that after these things we will not want to be tolerating interference into union activities.”But those that are pending are within the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment. Our own is to dispense with conflicts and we are going to continue to do that and these two items we have mentioned, were really the particular things they hammered on when we met. By God’s grace in the next few days, those ones are going to be sorted out.”

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