2023: You can’t mobilise for Peter Obi, Ngige tells NLC

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THE Federal Government has cautioned the Nigeria Labour Congress against mobilising its members for any political party.

The Federal Government also urged the NLC to cancel its planned protest over the prolonged strike of the Academic Staff Union of Universities and other university-based unions.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, made the appeal today at a meeting with the leadership of the NLC in his office.

Also in attendance at the meeting were the Minister of State, Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Kachollom Daju.

Ngige in his speech, updated the labour leaders on the efforts so far made by the Federal Government to resolve the impasse in the university system, saying that efforts were still ongoing.

The NLC had on July 17 announced that it would kick off a nationwide protest on July 26 and 27 to pressure the Federal Government to resolve the five-month-long strike by ASUU and other university-based unions.

In a statement signed by the Head of Press and Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Olajide Oshundun, the minister reminded the NLC leadership that he incorporated them into the tripartite conciliation going on in his Ministry and being very much aware of efforts of the government to resolve the impasse, they could not embark on any rally or protest.

He further told the labour leaders that the Federal Executive Council mandated him to notify them of the serious security implications of the planned protest.

According to him, a security report also sent to his office by the Department of State Services, strongly warned against holding the protest, slated for July 26 and 27.

He urged the NLC National Executive Council to reconsider the planned rally as hoodlums might take advantage of it to cause breach of security.

Ngige expressed the concern of the Government that politicians might cash in on the rally to wreak havoc in the country.

He said, “The masses might wrongly interpret the rally as a ploy by the NLC to enhance the chances of the Labour Party presidential candidate, a situation which could spur the supporters of the other political parties into violence.

“Section 40 of the constitution is clear on Freedom of Association. One of the provisions is that people of like minds can organise themselves and form a political party. There is also a provision that people in work or employment can organise themselves into unions. They are two parallels. Parallels don’t meet.

“I heard when you said you are mobilising for the Labour Party. But, a trade union is not a political party. Look at the Trade Union Act. It does not allow trade unions to use their contributions to support any political party.”

Responding, both the Deputy President of the NLC, Comrade Najeem Usman and the General Secretary, Comrade Emmanuel Ugboajah, assured the Government of a peaceful protest by the Congress, saying that infiltrators would not be allowed to participate in the protest.

Ugboajah said the NLC appreciated all the efforts of the minister towards the resolution of the industrial actions in the university system and pleaded with him not to hands off the conciliation.

Ugboajah added, “We commend you for championing the harmonisation of salaries of workers in the country. We don’t understand why a messenger in the Nigeria National Petroleum Company or the Central Bank should be earning more than a level eight officer in the Ministry.”