By Our Correspondent
Indications emerged on Sunday that President Muhammadu Buhari may have agreed to dialogue as the right option for ending the crises in the south east region. This was made known at the weekend by labour and employment minister, Sen Chris Ngige.
Sen Ngige, who spoke with State House correspondents after a meeting with the president at the Aso Rock Villa, disclosed that he proposed the dialogue option which according to him, the president gladly accepted.
“We also looked at the security situation, especially in my zone, the Southeast and we made some proposal to him, based on the yearnings of the people, and what the government also wants.
And we are following up with dialogue which at the end of the day is what will happen. We have to talk, we have to discuss. And part of the discussion starts also tomorrow (Saturday). The Minister of Defence, Minister of Interior and the Service Chiefs were in Enugu earlier last Saturday and we are going to do follow-up meetings on that again starting from tomorrow.
We briefed him and he accepted that dialogue is the way to go in all these. Like I keep on saying, there is a very tin line between perception and reality, so certain things should be done, at least to assuage the feelings of the people in the area and make them not to feel unwanted, so that area was also discussed,” Sen Ngige said.
The minister added that he equally briefed the President on labour issues, including the recently called off strike by both the Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria, JUSUN, and the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria, PASAN, that practically paralysed legislative and judicial activities in the country for two months before they were called off.
Sen Ngige noted that the the face-off between the Kaduna state government and the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, was also part of the discussion he held with the president. He recalled that the leadership of the NLC raised complaints over alleged refusal of the Kaduna state government to obey the terms of agreement as brokered by the federal government through the labour and employment Ministry. According to him, it has been resolved that there is no need for further industrial disharmony between labour and the state government in the face of ongoing security challenges.
“I have to see him to appraise him with labour industrial melieu especially when you know that the judiciary and parliamentary workers JUSUN and PASAN respectively had been on strike that lasted for two months. We achieved a truce, through an agreement and we have to, today, summit his own copies of Agreement to him.
We are going to monitor the agreement. He is very interested in it. And if you remember, he had to do an Executive Order 10 in consonnance with the constitution, so that we have independence, financial autonomy for the judiciary and the legislature in the states.
We also looked at the Kaduna state government/Nigeria Labour Congress imbroglio. We have arrested the strikes, we have apprehended them and formed committees for the workers through the NLC and the Kaduna state government so that they can do some social dialoguing and reconciliation through that route.
The NLC just five days ago, wrote to Mr. President complaining that the Kaduna state government wasn’t keeping to their own side of the agreement, signed, especially in the area of victimisation of workers, said that the government of Kaduna state has sacked some staff from their workforce for participating in the strike.
And Mr. President sought for advice on it and we’ve transmitted the advice today. So, I and the Chief of Staff have jointly briefed him on that and we are taking action to make sure we don’t have a repeat of what happened in that state, he said that we have already been bedeviled with security issues, we don’t want any more compounding of those issues,” he disclosed.