….Buhari didn’t order me to handsoff from negotiations – Ngige
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
THE Federal Government has declared the proposed nationwide protest by the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, in solidarity with the striking members of the University-based unions as illegal.
This is as the Minister Of Labour and Employment Senator Chris Ngige has denied media report that President Muhammadu Buhari ordered him to hands off renegotiations with the striking university based unions.
Recall that the NLC had announced that it would embark on a nationwide protest on July 26 and 27 to press home the need to resolve the over five-month old strike embarked by the four university based unions.
The four unions are the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU, the Non-Academic Staff Union of Allied and Educational Institutions, NASU and the National Association of Academic Technologists, NAAT.
Briefing State House correspondents at the end of the weekly Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, at the Council Chamber, Abuja, the Minister of information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said since the NLC has no dispute with government, its planned street protest is illegal.
The Minister observed that what the Congress is doing is about interest, noting that it should insulate itself completely from politics.
Meanwhile, the Minister Of Labour and Employment Senator Chris Ngige has told journalists that there was no veracity in the media report that President Buhari ordered him on Tuesday to hands off renegotiations with the striking unions.
Describing the report as false, Ngige said, “Anyway I saw one of the dailies writing something like that today (Wednesday), but the truth of the matter is there is no such thing ,it’s just a categorical untruth, there is nothing like handsoff .”
Asked if the Two weeks directive by the President to resolve the issue is achievable, Ngige said he proposed one week to resolve the issue but the Minister of Education Adamu Adamu volunteered to resolve the issues with Asuu in two weeks adding that he hopes the issue will be resolved at the stipulated time.
The Labour minister advised the unions to table their case before the Ministry of Education whom the President has directed to resolve the issue.