From Magnus Eze, Abuja
The Federal Government may have dumped the factional leader of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Joe Ajaero, barely one week after using him to botch the nationwide strike called by the organised labour.
Pointer to this emerged on Wednesday after the resumed negotiation with the leadership of NLC led by Comrade Ayuba Wabba.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige said government would work with the NLC and Trade Union Congress (TUC) to reach acceptable recommendations at the 16-member technical committee tripartite meeting over a new national minimum wage and other contending issues.
He disclosed that he would be leading the Nigerian government’s delegation while Wabba leads labour to the International Labour Conference in Geneva, Switzerland, next week.
Asked if the technical committee which he chairs, would work with the other faction, Ngige said: “We don’t know of any faction. NLC is NLC, TUC is TUC. Government will not pry into anybody’s problem. If they have in-house problem, they will solve it. Husband and wife have problems and they reconcile. Government will be willing to play a major role to make sure we have one indivisible NLC.”
Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, who was believed to have advised government to embrace the Ajaero group in the heat of the fuel price hike crises might have also turned his back on the factional labour leader.
Oshiomhole said: “I am happy with the leadership that the SGF (Secretary to the Government of the Federation) has provided under this tensed atmosphere and the level-headedness that NLC leadership has demonstrated to resolve to work together as a family; there is only one labour and there’s only one government. But within government, you have people with different points of view. The same thing within labour; you could still have different shades of opinion. But these shades of opinion are not enough to create a divide and I think the SGF and the labour minister said it all; there is only one labour movement, there is one Federal Government.”
Nonetheless, the Ajaero-faction, comprising of National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) and National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions Employees (NUBIFE) has two slots of the eight meant for labour, while the Wabba-led NLC has three nominees.