By Jonathan Nda- Isaiah
The Nigeria Governors’ Forum and the Nigeria Labour Congress are on the path to resolving the impasse occasioned by the threat by workers to embark on industrial action if the Federal Government does not rescind the recent decisions to increase the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) and Electricity Tariff in the country.
According to a statement by the media office of the NGF, this is the outcome of an early morning dialogue between representatives of the Forum and workers which took place at the residence of the Chairman of the NGF, in Abuja, early on Saturday.
The Chairman of the NGF and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr John Kayode Fayemi spoke for the Forum while the NLC President Comrade Ayuba Wabba who was accompanied by the TUC President Quadri Olaleye and the NLC General Secretary, Emmanuel Ugboajah, to the meeting. Also at the meeting was the Director General of the NGF ,Asishana Okauru.
The Chairman explained that Governors decided to wade into the on-going negotiations with a view to broadening consultations and assisting to bring the impasse to an end, thus averting the impending strike action.
He pleaded with the NLC that the timing of the action was inauspicious and could aggravate an already worsening situation if not averted.
Fayemi emphasised that the plight of workers in the country was already in dire straits and that any action embarked upon by the union at this time would further worsen their situation as contained in the communique issued by governors after their first emergency meeting on Thursday, 24th September, 2020, since the outbreak of the pandemic and eventual lockdown of the country, last March.
The NGF Chairman said, no one that is conversant with the prevailing situation in the country would disagree with labour and its demands, as it were, but pleaded
that Governors be given time to consult more broadly with the various stakeholders, including the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, the vice president and the president.
This he said would be top priority for the NGF and promised to head straight to the presidency once the meeting was over.
The Governors Chairman expressed the hope that this gesture from the governors would also energise the leadership of labour to put a hold on their planned action.
On his part, the President of the NLC said the Federal Government violated the time-tested global process of dialogue and thanked the NGF Chairman for his efforts at ensuring that sanity returns to the negotiation table.
When the cost of PMS rises, the cost of everything in the country rises with it, the NLC President explained.
He agreed with the NGF Chairman and also praised him for agreeing to broaden the mechanism for consultation on the matter saying “I praise you for showing a good grasp of this matter and I believe that if they had widened the mechanism for consultation and involved people like you, we wouldn’t have come to this pass.”
In conclusion, Fayemi stated that Government and Labour are not that far apart in the negotiation and the differences are not irreconcilable.
According to NGF Chairman, “our President who is always on the side of workers will not be averse to the issues being raised and I’m hopeful for an amicable settlement on the issues highlighted.”