Chris Ngige, minister of labour, has explained why the federal government delayed its meeting with the Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), and the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN).
JUSUN had, on April 6, embarked on a nationwide strike in protest of the non-implementation of financial autonomy for the judiciary.
There is also an ongoing strike by the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN) seeking to get the federal government to implement financial autonomy for state legislature.
The government had initially fixed a meeting with the unionists for April 15, but it was rescheduled to April 20.
However, the meeting which was scheduled to hold by 3pm at the conference hall of the federal ministry of labour and employment, took a different turn after representatives of the union walked out.
Jimoh Alonge, JUSUN treasurer, had said Ngige kept them waiting for close to two hours without any explanation.
Reacting to the situation, Ngige told journalists that members of the unions were impatient.
He said it was necessary to postpone the meeting to enable the government’s negotiating team harmonise all issues from the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) reached at separate meetings with stakeholders.
“There is no point rushing to have a meeting that will be fruitless,” he said.
“The judiciary, the governors’ forum, and even the presidency are involved in this negotiation because the meeting held yesterday was at the office of the chief of staff to the president.
“The arising documents are not yet properly harmonised. It will, therefore, not be fruitful to hold a negotiation where people speak from irreconcilable positions.
“It would not help us and it would not help the unions either. The reason is to ensure that the agreement reached at the end of our meeting here is put into action, with timeline for implementation.
“So if we do not have a paper that is ready to go, then there will be no point for the talk shop.”
Some of the members of the government team listed by the minister include Dayo Apata, solicitor-general of the federation; Asishana-Bayo Okauru, director-general of Nigerian Governors’ Forum, and Ita Enang, senior special assistant to the president.
Ngige said a new date for the meeting would be announced.
“It is better done properly so that the governors can implement whatever agreement we enter into,” he said.
“The governors hold the ace because they are sovereign in their respective states. Though they are sub-nationals, they run the government of those states.
“Today, fund management committees have been proposed and there is also executive Order 10. This means there is a problem and we must be very careful not to create more problems instead of solving them.”