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May 6, 2021
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JUSUN strike: Ngige’s Absence Stalls Meeting with Govt

The proposed meeting between the Federal Government, Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) and Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN), did not hold because Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige was absent.

The meeting was scheduled for 3pm but Ngige, who serves as the conciliator, was not at the venue when the workers left after waiting for almost two hours.

JUSUN National Public Relations Officer Comrade Koin Selepreye said it was wrong for the minister to keep them waiting when the invitation said the meeting would start by 3pm.

She added that the union would always be available for any meeting to resolve the strike, but said members will not accept it when the meeting time is not respected.

National President of PASAN Comrade Mohammed Usman berated Ngige for ‘the unfair treatment meted to the workers’. He said they respect time and won’t accept being kept waiting.

Efforts by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Peter Yarfa, and Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Niger Delta Affairs, Ita Enang, to prevail on the unions to return for the meeting were unsuccessful.

But Ngige, in a statement, explained that the meeting was postponed to enable the government’s negotiating team harmonise all issues from the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) reached at separate meetings with tiers and arms of government.

Ngige said this was necessary to ensure the meeting with the unions come with a Memorandum of Action which is implementable with time lines.

The statement by the Deputy Director, Press and Public Relations, Charles Akpan, reads: “There is no point rushing to do a meeting that will be fruitless. The judiciary, 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 won’t help us and it won’t 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 timelines for implementation. So if we don’t have a paper that is ready to go, then there will be no point for the talk shop.”

‘We have complied with constitutional provisions’

Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said the state has substantially complied with provisions of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, on the financial autonomy and independence of the judiciary.

Sanwo-Olu met with NBA members from four of the five judicial divisions in the state – Epe, Lagos, Ikorodu and Badagry – led by their Chairmen – Ademola Koko, Yemi Akangbe, Abimbola Ojedokun and M.A. Sodipo.

Sources close to the meeting said the governor rehashed what the Chief Justice of the state, Justice Kazeem Alogba, said during a meeting with JUSUN leadership last Thursday, that Lagos has met the required 100 per cent in recurrent expenditure and 75 per cent in capital expenditure, and of his readiness to do more for judiciary.

The governor, it was said, explained that while there is no issue on recurrent expenditure for the judiciary, the capital expenditure for the judiciary ‘is a function of budgeting based on projections and estimates’.

Union to Emmanuel: take the lead

THE Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) and JUSUN in Akwa Ibom State have challenged Governor Udom Emmanuel to be the first to implement financial autonomy for the judiciary.

The bodies insisted that the state has all it takes to implement the Executive Order 10 of the 1999 Constitution.

A statement by branch chairmen of NBA Aniema Etuk (Uyo); David Ekpo (Ikot-Ekpene); Gloria Etim (Eket); Tokunbo Otoyo (Oron), reads: “Such is a noble thing to do and it has the potentials of etching your name on the sands of our country’s history.”

APC chieftain Okechukwu backs strike

Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Director-General of the Voice of Nigeria (VON) Osita Okechukwu has supported the strike. According to him, the strike will help to expand democratic frontiers.

Okechukwu, in a statement yesterday in Abuja, noted that the popular restructuring everybody clamoured for in Nigeria cannot advance democracy when governors act like emperors, trample on basic tenets of democracy, rig local council elections, enjoy rubber stamp legislatures and muscle the judiciary.

He hailed President Muhammadu Buhari for the real restructuring of democracy in Nigeria through amendment of Section 121 (3) of the 1999 Constitution.

‘NLC, TUC, others should support strike’

APC chieftain Frank Kokori has enjoined labour unions to support the striking JUSUN and Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN) workers.

Kokori, a former General Secretary of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), spoke yesterday at his home in Ovu, Ethiope East Local Government Area of Delta State.

He particularly called on the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC), Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) and NUPENG, to give solidarity to JUSUN.

Kokori asserted that anti-judicial independence forces must be defeated once and for all to set the country on the path of true democracy.

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