President Tinubu Engages Labour Leaders Amid Nationwide Protests

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President Tinubu Engages Labour Leaders Amid Nationwide Protests
Government and Labour Leaders in Crucial Talks Amid Protests

Nigeria’s President, Bola Tinubu, held a crucial meeting yesterday with the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. The meeting aimed to address the ongoing protests across the country against the removal of fuel subsidies, which led to soaring prices of goods and services, causing immense hardship for the citizens.

During the meeting, President Tinubu assured the labour leaders that he is committed to addressing some of their demands. One of the immediate steps he promised to take was the formation of a new presidential committee on palliatives. The current committee, led by the Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila, has been criticized by the labour leaders as inadequate.

Additionally, the President acceded to the demand for a wage award since negotiations for a new minimum wage were scheduled for next year, as per constitutional provisions. The labour leaders expressed their concerns over the delay and the urgent need to improve the living conditions of workers.

The nationwide protests saw active participation from workers in various states, including Lagos, Ogun, Edo, Kano, Kaduna, Enugu, Abia, Bayelsa, Imo, and Rivers, among others. The protesters raised their voices against the removal of fuel subsidies and demanded better palliative measures from the government.

In response to the protests, some state governments also made promises to alleviate the situation. For instance, the Ogun State government pledged to convert vehicles to Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) to make transportation more affordable for the people, while other states promised hardship allowances for workers.

The President’s engagement with the labour leaders came shortly after protesters gained access to the National Assembly complex by pulling down its gate. The federal government, in response, filed contempt proceedings against the NLC and TUC, citing a violation of a restraining order issued by the National Industrial Court on June 5, 2023.

After the meeting with President Tinubu, the NLC and TUC announced a return to full negotiations with the Federal Government. They appreciated the massive support from the Nigerian people during the protests and reaffirmed their commitment to securing the interests and welfare of the citizens.

President Tinubu’s promise to reconstitute the Presidential Steering Committee on Palliatives, award immediate wages to workers, and explore the use of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) vehicles as a solution to the fuel subsidy issue instilled hope among the labour leaders. As they await the government’s actions to fulfill its part of the agreement, the NLC and TUC remain vigilant and prepared to take further action if needed.

The President’s willingness to engage in dialogue and address the protesters’ concerns signifies his understanding of the importance of peaceful protests in a democratic society, according to NLC President, Comrade Joe Ajaero.

As the nation awaits further developments, it is hoped that meaningful negotiations will bring about viable solutions to the current economic challenges faced by the Nigerian workforce. The engagement between the government and labour leaders is seen as a step in the right direction towards finding common ground and addressing the issues at hand.

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