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Tuesday, 28 March 2023

Naira Scarcity: Labour Minister Ngige, NLC, CBN meet to avert nationwide strike

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, on Monday, summoned a meeting between the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.

The meeting which was held behind closed doors was summoned by the Minister to reach a compromise and possibly avert the proposed nationwide strike threats by NLC.

The apex labour union had proposed a nationwide strike, which was billed to commence on Wednesday.

Beyond the strike threats, NLC was also mobilising its affiliate unions to picket all branches of CBN nationwide.

A statement by Olajide Oshundun, Director, Press and Public Relations in the ministry noted that the 10-man delegation of the NLC was led by its president, Comrade Joe Ajaero and the General Secretary, Emmanuel Ugboaja while CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele was accompanied by two deputy governors, Kingsley Obiora (Economic Policy) and Ade Shonubi (Organised Private Sector).

Making his opening remarks, Ngige refuted the allegation of the NLC that his ministry did nothing about the matter.

He said on receiving the letter from NLC, he forwarded the same to the CBN governor before travelling out of the country for the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Governing Board meeting and directed the Permanent Secretary and Trade Union Services and Industrial Relations Department to follow-up.

He maintained that his ministry took the necessary step by sending the letter to the CBN governor who received the letter and assured that action would be taken.

On his own part, Emefiele said when he received the letter from the Ministry of Labour, he called the president of NLC to brief him on steps taken to alleviate the sufferings of the masses and equally made an appointment and had discussion with the NLC president and they had fruitful discussion.

He said large volumes of funds were made available to the deposit money banks who were directed to open their branches on Saturdays and Sundays and they complied under strict supervision of CBN.

According to Emefiele, following the steps taken, Nigerians have been enjoying their money.

Earlier, Ajaero said they only got a reply to their second letter to the ministry and subsequently, an invitation to the meeting.

He said they no longer envisage any problem, since CBN has started sending cash to the banks and Nigerians were now accessing their money, he acknowledged that the meeting had taken place in the spirit of good dialogue.

He, however, urged CBN to improve on its services, regretting the information gap created in the implementation of the naira redesign.

He said: “NLC could not have stopped CBN from taking good decisions and implementing them in the interest of the nation. If stakeholders were invited and briefed on the policy, when the people complain, NLC would explain everything to them. But in this case, the CBN did it alone. Moreover, it is the wrong time for administering such a national policy.”

He assured that the National Executive Committee (NEC) of NLC will meet tomorrow, Tuesday, 28th of March, 2023, where members from states and local government areas are expected to report on availability of money, after which a decision will be taken on the strike.

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