NLC vows to disgrace Ngige, says he is not fit to hold public office

President of the NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba

President of the NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has vowed to disgrace the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige and any member of his family they come across.

President of the NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba

President of the NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba

Already, NLC has issued a directive to workers across airports in the country and in the 163 member countries of the International Trade Union Congress (ITUC) to disgrace Ngige and any member of his family they come across.

“We have directed all our workers, particularly at the airports in Nigeria and around the world, that wherever he is seen, he should also receive the same disgrace particularly in the diaspora where ITUC operates and in the 163 countries where ITUC has members.

“At all the airports, his name and identity has already been circulated and that the same disgrace be extended to him and members of his family,” President of the NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, said.

Wabba, made this known yesterday at the end of an emergency meeting of its Central Working Committee (CWC) in Abuja, further noted that organised labour has resolved to embark on a national protest on Monday, May 13, 2019 in Abuja against the attack on some of its members by Ngige and some suspected hired thugs.

said he has directed all members of the NLC and civil society allies to commence immediate mobilisation for a showdown with the minister. The resolutions followed Wednesday’s attack on some labour leaders by hoodlums at the residence of Ngige.

Wabba accused the minister of not acting in the interest of the President concerning the inauguration of the board of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF).

He called on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately sack Ngige as the Minister of Labour and Employment, over his alleged failure to manage the sector. “The CWC resolved to embark on a national protest on Monday, May 13, 2019, in Abuja against the victimisation of its members by Ngige and his thugs, and has accordingly directed all his members and civil society allies to commence immediate mobilisation.

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“We had the worse administration in terms of managing labour and that is why we have had crisis in almost all the sectors in industrial relations. It is quite unfortunate and we demand that Mr. President should also exit people like Ngige; he has not demonstrated enough capacity, he has not demonstrated enough will, and he has not conformed to the tradition that all of us are known for.

“Certainly people like Ngige are not fit to hold public office, because by our laws, he is supposed to be the chief consolator and, therefore, if the chief consolator should descend so low to be attacking his constituents, his social partners in a situation that is unwarranted and is condemnable no excuse can be given for that.

“We are taken aback where a minister that is supposed to uphold our labour laws has decided to stoop so low. We are not surprised because we are told this is his antecedent as he has used thugs at various times even when he was in his own state.

“Clearly this has demonstrated why labour issues have not received the required attention it deserved. The CWC, therefore, resolved to hold Chris Ngige and his family personally responsible for the violence visited on the workers that were injured.”

New Telegraph recalls that protesting NLC members were on Wednesday attacked by hoodlums at the residence of the labour minister, with nine persons injured and vehicles damaged. Wabba, who stressed that the picketing of the minister’s private residence was not illegal under Labour laws, explained that even though the protest was carried out on a public thoroughfare, any public office holder was open to protests at their official residence.

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The workers, therefore, demand an unreserved apology from the minister and the Federal Government, for unleashing hoodlums to attack the peaceful protesters, even as they demanded that the hoodlums be arrested and prosecuted. “Apart from condemnation, we demand full investigation of everybody that is involved.

“CWC demands an un-conditional and unqualified reserved apology from Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige, and by extension government, both for the primitive behaviour of the minister and his suspicious silence. “The CWC calls for the arrest and prosecution of the thugs immediately and also their sponsors which is well known.

“Picketing of Ngige’s official residence and office is lawful as it was done along public thoroughfare. He fenced his house and also the labour laws allow such picketing because he is a public officer holding public office. It was on a public space,” he said.

The lingering battle between Ngige and the leadership of the NLC over the board of the NSITF took a nasty turn on Wednesday as some hoodlums attacked labour leaders, journalists and other workers who were picketing the minister’s Asokoro residence.

The hoodlums, numbering about 50, beat up labour leaders, journalists and workers, who were at the minister’s residence, in protest over his refusal to inaugurate the board of the NSITF.

The assailants descended on the protesters with stones, sticks, bottles and other weapons which left nine persons wounded.New Telegraph had reported that the protest started as early as 5a.m., with the protesters blocking the entrance of the minister’s private residence with two tankers, to prevent him from leaving his house. All efforts to get the labour leaders to remove the tankers fell on deaf ears as the workers insisted they would continue with the picketing.

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However, this development did not go down well with the minister who had to leave his house at about 6 a.m. through a different route. Other workers who arrived at about 7:30 a.m. to join the picketing were stopped from gaining access to the minister’s residence by members of the Nigeria Police, Department of State Services (DSS) and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) who had been deployed to the premises.

Trouble started about an hour later when a group of suspected thugs alighted from a white Toyota Hiace bus, all dressed in black attire with the inscription “Police Swat” on some of their shirts, moved to the entrance to Ngige’s residence, where some of the workers and labour leaders were already stationed.

These suspected hoodlums, armed with stones, sticks, bottles and other weapons started beating those they could lay their hands on, and destroyed a vehicle belonging to the NLC and another belonging to a reporter with the African Independent Television (AIT).

They ended up injuring scores of workers, and a journalist with Premium Times. NLC had given the minister an ultimatum to inaugurate the board with Chief Frank Kokori as the chairman. That ultimatum, which expired on May 1, led to the protest by labour in Abuja.