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Suswam Appeals to Protesting Benue Pensioners to Return Home

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From Chris Gaga, Makurdi

The Senator Representing Benue North-East senatorial district, Gabriel Suswam has appealed to protesting Pensioners to end the six days all-night protest and return to their various homes. 

The former governor also appealed to the pensioners to trust and give him up till Monday next week to join heads with governor Samuel Ortom to address their demands.

 

But in a quick trigger, some of the protesters shouted, “we don’t trust the governor.

Suswam who addressed the pensioners at the gate of government house on Monday, said their continued sleeping outside was unpalatable, insisting that they would not allow “our parents to be sleeping outside”.

He pleaded to the pensioners to break the protest so as to reconvene Monday when he believed he will join heads with the governor to address their needs. 

Suswam said, ” even If you don’t trust the governor as you said, give us the opportunity. Your staying here affects us your children and the whole state. It is a state matter and we stakeholders can not fold our hands and watch. 

“My appeal to you is please go back home, Monday we will be back here with other stakeholders to resolve this issue. Please give us a chance, just one opportunity and if we cannot solve this problem then, you can go ahead with your protest. But  we cannot allow you to continue staying here,” he pleaded. 

The Senator Committee Chairman on Power explained that governor Ortom was constrained by the present economic realities, but appealed to the pensioners to count on him to making sure that the governor heed to their cry. 

Suswam who said the pensioners were bargaining for their rights, assured that he will take the challenge “personally” to solve the problem when he meets with the pensioners on Monday next week. 

In their response, the Vice Chairman of the Concerned Senior Citizens, Mrs Stella Peters said they were ready to continue protesting  day and night till Monday next week when the Senator feels solutions will be provided. 

Stella narrated that if the government had paid them two months of the arrears they bargained for before they commenced protest, it wouldn’t have gotten to this point. 

She cried that, “life has not been easy with us. We have lost dignity in our families and homes. This is not how to treat human beings”.

The Vice Chairman informed that they have lost three of their members in the cause of the protest, noting that they were surprised their cry and suffering is been speculated to be instigated by politicians.

They however appreciated former governor Suswam for his concerns, but refused ending the protest as the Senator pleaded. 

Our Correspondent reports that the protesting pensioners accepted a token gift by the Senator to aide them purchase drinking water. It is the second offer they are accepting since they rejected governor Ortom’s earlier offer of 2million for same purposes. 

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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