By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
THE Federal Government yesterday expressed optimism that the ongoing strike embarked upon by the duo of Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria, JUSUN, and the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria, PASAN, will end soon.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, stated this after a conciliation meeting between the Government negotiating team and the two unions in his office.
Ngige said the Government side has made offers to the two unions for them to consult with their various National Executive Committees, NEC, and revert back.
According to him, a lot of work went into the proposal given by the government side to the two unions, which substantially addressed their demands for judicial and legislative autonomy in the 36 states of the country.
He explained that the proposal was produced by the committee of the Government side, comprising the Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Dayo Apata (SAN), the Secretary of the Presidential Committee for the Implementation of Judicial and Legislative Autonomy, Senator Ita Enang, representative of the National Judicial Council (NJC) and the Director General of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF).
The Minister said, “A lot of work went in. We have exchanged briefs with the JUSUN and PASAN. They have their demands, which they had earlier submitted. The government side has given counter offers and properly addressed the burning issue of financial autonomy for state legislatures and judiciary.”
He explained that questions were asked and answered, while critical observations were made and explained, working on the proposal given by the government side.
Ngige said the meeting has been adjourned with a view to enable JUSUN and PASAN take back the government proposal to their members in their National Executive Committees.
He said, “We expect them to work on the documents from tomorrow and if they are satisfied, they should inform us. And you know that when they are satisfied, the logical thing is to call off the industrial dispute. So, we are to receive their views on the government offer by Tuesday morning.”
Ngige said over all, the discussions have been very fruitful, adding that they have moved from the initial position of ground zero, to ground 85.
He, however, appealed to the striking workers to return to work to enable the Government meet the remaining part of their demands.
He said, “We cannot do this when the legislatures are closed in various states. We cannot also operationalise them when the courts are closed and Heads of Courts are not allowed into the courts or their offices.
“We have made documentation and statistics for the State Houses of Assembly to make appropriate laws. So, we plead that you open the courts and State Houses of Assembly.
“Besides, we are menaced by bandits, terrorists , and arsonists . With the courts closed, the police cannot tackle insecurity.”
Responding, the Vice Chairman of JUSUN Comrade Emmanuel Abioye, and the National President of PASAN, Mohammed Usman, said they were going back to meet with their NEC to study the situation and consider the offers made before reverting back to the minister.