The leadership crisis rocking the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday manifested itself as the Joe Ajaero faction of the NLC insisted that it would not join the Comrade Ayuba Wabba-led NLC to embark on the strike planned for tomorrow.
Also, the federal government has insisted that there is no option to the increment of the pump price of fuel.
Yesterday, stakeholders in the Labour sector, including the governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, and other government officials were locked in a meeting at the office of the secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal.
The meeting, which was summoned at the instance of the SGF, was being held to avert the proposed nationwide strike by the NLC and the TUC scheduled for Wednesday, May 18, 2016.
However a mild drama played out as the general secretary of the Nigeria Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), Joe Ajaero, and the president National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Igwe Achese, both of whom are president and deputy president of the rival NLC faction, were locked out of the meeting.
Speaking during the opening session, both the SGF, Babachir Lawal, and the minister of state for petroleum, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, insisted that the new price increment would remain, saying there was no other option to the hike.
Speaking to journalists outside, NUPENG president, Achese, said oil and bank workers, who are part of his faction, would not be joining the strike on tomorrow.
The meeting, which kicked off at about 6:30pm, had in attendance the NLC president, Ayuba Wabba; TUC president, Bobboi Bala Kiagama; NLC general secretary, Peter Ozo-Eson, and TUC acting general secretary, Simeso Amachree, among others.
The president of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN),Olabode Johnson, was on the Labour side.
On the government side was minister of labour and employment, Chris Ngige; the SGF, Babachir Lawal; minister of state for petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu; minister of solid minerals, Kayode Fayemi and Edo State governor, Adams Oshiomhole
It was gathered that Governor Oshiomhole had earlier met with the vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, possibly to harmonise federal government’s position before they went for the closed-door meeting at the SGF’s office.
At the time of filing this report the meeting was ongoing, but it was not clear whether the NLC would present a common position before the federal government, especially as the factional president, Joe Ajaero, was also at the venue of the meeting.
NUPENG and PENGASSAN, two prominent unions within the oil industry, had earlier endorsed the deregulation policy of the federal government which caused a sharp increase in the price of fuel from N86.50 to N145 per litre.
Speaking outside the meeting, Comrade Ajaero said his group would not be joining the strike on Wednesday, adding that his faction would also be meeting with the federal government’s team immediately after the meeting with the Wabba faction.