By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA – THE apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo has warned President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Ayuba Wabba to stop using derogatory language on the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige.
A statement by the President of Ohaneze, Federal Capital Territory, FCT, chapter, Odozi Nwodozi, in Abuja yesterday claimed that the NLC President has been making “unwarranted and uncivilized attacks” on the minister.
Ohanaeze in what it described as “stern warning” to the NLC President over the alleged attacks on Ngige, said that “Ndigbo have watched with keen interest, the vituperations of the NLC President in the last few weeks, culminating in the shameful and disgraceful outing at the 2019 Worker’s Day rally.”
It said “it was unfortunate that instead of utilizing the opportunity offered by the Worker’s Day to appreciate the commitment of the Hon. Minister to the welfare of Nigerian workers, the NLC President mischievously converted the occasion to an avenue for rogue behavior towards the Minister who has demonstrated capacity in the discharge of his duties.
“Sen. Ngige has ably piloted the affairs of the Ministry of Labour and Employment. He has masterfully been guiding all decisions and actions taken to reposition the nation’s workforce. We wish to put on record that without his astute administrative skills in handling labour issues, the restive workforce would have pushed Nigeria down the road to Venezuela. Who could have managed the cascading labour strikes of 2016-2018 as Sen. Ngige has done?
“His capacity for equable negotiations, weathered the storm of intricacies surrounding the New National Minimum Wage and brought all social partners to agreement. This is in the public domain.
“We are therefore surprised that instead of giving honour to whom it is due, the NLC President chose to convert the issue of appointment into the board of the NSITF to selfish ends, even when the Hon. Minister has said all appointments were at the behest of the President in line with the law establishing the fund.
“Does Ayuba want Ngige to break the law in order to please him and his pay masters? We recall that he was vehemently opposed to the Administrative Panel of Inquiry into the NSITF and we ask; what is he hiding in the NSITF and Trust Fund Pension, its sister company?
“What is he afraid the probe will unearth? What indeed does Ayuba want to cover by insisting that his comrade, Frank Kokori must chair the NSITF as well as the Trust Fund? These are questions begging for answers as we have done our own investigations.
“We had earlier refrained from joining issues with the NLC leader but it looks like Ayuba’s propaganda and Kokori’s play of victim are beclouding reasonable thinking in the public sphere.
“We therefore wish to warn that we shall not fold our hands if this underserved harassment continues.
“We watched with heads bowed, the macabre dance of shame, as Ayuba mobilized urchins to take over the office of the Minister, disrupted and forced the postponement of the planned inauguration of the Board of the NSITF on April, 18, 2019 .”
Continuing, the statement said, “We also watched as the same Ayuba converted yesterday’s Worker’s Day rally for barbaric attacks on Sen. Ngige.
“We deplore the crude manners of the NLC President to diminish the office of the Hon. Minister even in the presence of the Vice President and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation as well as the members of the International Community. This, we see, as an effrontery on the entire wheel of governance of the Nigerian state.
“Comrade Ayuba Wabbah should be advised to desist from taking laws into his hands and re-channel his protest over the replacement of Comrade Frank Kokori at the NSITF board to the appropriate appointing authority.
“Failing to do the above, we will consider it a deliberate attempt to intimidate the Minister in the discharge of his constitutional responsibilities because he is an Igbo.”
“We therefore warn at this juncture that Ndigbo have the capacity to protect our own at all times. Even though we disagreed with Sen. Ngige on his choice of party and presidential candidate during the last election, that does not take away the fact that he is still one of our brightest, one of the most patriotic Igbo man who believes in one indivisible Nigeria and our mouthpiece in the current dispensation. He should be accorded all respects due his person and office.”