* President didn’t ask me to stepaside from negotiations – Ngige
By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja
The Federal Government has said the proposed protest by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) across the federation in solidarity with the striking members of the University-based unions as illegal.
This is even as the Minister Of Labour and Employment Senator Chris Ngige has denied media report that President Muhammadu Buhari ordered him to hands off renegotiations with the striking university based unions.
Speaking with State House correspondents after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Council Chamber, Abuja, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed said “since the NLC has no dispute with government, its planned nationwide protest is illegal.”
The Minister observed that what the Congress is doing is about interest, noting that it should insulate itself completely from politics.
The NLC had announced that it would embark on a nationwide protest on July 26 and 27 to press home the need to resolve the over five-month old strike embarked by the four university based unions.
The four unions are the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU, the Non-Academic Staff Union of Allied and Educational Institutions, NASU and the National Association of Academic Technologists, NAAT.
According to the minister, reiterated that NLC was worried about the prolonged strike which affecting their children as well.
“The Federal Government is as worried as NLC and everybody, but the law is the law. What I expect NLC to do as umbrella body to find solution, is to join Federal Government in finding solution.
“They are part of the tripartite agreement that I’ve been negotiating with Federal Government on this ASUU issue.
“So why are they now going out to take sides? I think you also interrogate it yourselves. I think is popular to get NLC out and support but ask yourself how does that help the problem?
“How does that solve the problem? What you are going to create is more anarchy and I think the NLC should think twice about their proposed strike in solidarity with ASUU.
It’s as if the Federal Government is doing nothing about ASUU. No! And they’ve been involved in this negotiation all along so why now?”
Meanwhile, the Minister Of Labour and Employment Senator Chris Ngige has told journalists that there was no veracity in the media report that President Buhari ordered him on Tuesday to hands off renegotiations with the striking unions.
Ngige who described the report as false, said, “I saw one of the dailies writing something like that today (Wednesday), but the truth of the matter is there is no such thing ,it’s just a categorical untruth, there is nothing like handsoff .”
Asked if the Two weeks directive by the President to resolve the issue is achievable, Ngige said he proposed one week to resolve the issue but the Minister of Education Adamu Adamu volunteered to resolve the issues with Asuu in two weeks adding that he hopes the issue will be resolved at the stipulated time.
The Labour minister advised the unions to table their case before the Ministry of Education whom the President has directed to resolve the issue.