Subsidy Removal: Labour, FG set 8 weeks deadline to conclude dialogue

…Constitute Presidential Committee to work on demands, reconvenes next Monday

Organised labour and the Federal Government yesterday agreed on an eight-week deadline to thrash out all contentious issues and implement the resolutions arising from the demands of labour.

Recall that immediately after President Bola Tinubu announced the removal of the fuel subsidy on May 29, organised labour threatened to go on strike, alleging that the government did not put in place measures to cushion the effect of the subsidy removal.

To avert the strike, the federal government quickly convened a meeting with labour where demands that will serve as palliatives were made and the two parties agreed to meet again on June 19.

At the meeting yesterday, the federal government and the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC and the Trade Union Congress, TUC, agreed that all the issues and demands raised should be concluded within eight weeks.

The two parties also set up a Presidential Steering Committee to serve as a clearing house in coordinating the technical sub-committees on different items raised.

Briefing State House correspondents at the end of the meeting, the president of TUC, Festus Osifo, who was flanked by his NLC counterpart, Joe Ajaero, said the parties would reconvene next Monday to review the framework marshalled out.

He said: “We have concluded our meeting, if you remember very well the last time that we were here that labour, TUC, and NLC met with the government about two weeks ago, we agreed that we are going to reconvene today, that is the 19th of June, we just reconvened, we had a meeting although brief.

“The purpose of the meeting today is actually to put together the framework, what we submitted as our demand, how will they be delivered and so we are looking at that framework, the government came with what they think will work, we also made some input. From this night, we are going to continue the work in order to have that framework together.

“We agreed that anything we are putting together we are going to conclude everything in eight weeks. Everything must be rolled out within that time not something that we are going to leave endlessly. They have submitted the framework to us, we have looked at it, and we have made input to it, this night we will continuously work on it in order for us to come up with the deliverables.

“If you look at the communique that was signed in our last meeting, there are some action items in the communique. So it’s actually how these action items will be delivered. For example, we need to have a Presidential Steering Committee that will have to oversee everything.

‘’We also need to have Technical sub-committees because if we talk about the issue of CNG, we need experts, the issue of CNG you need those people that are willing to invest, the issue of CNG, you need the national oil company, the NNPCL to come up what they need to do and the time with which they are going to deliver.

“There are some technicalities that are required beyond this meeting, so those technical committees will be subsumed into Presidential committees but we must conclude everything maximum in eight weeks.

‘’So those technical committees, some will submit their reports in one week, when they submit in one week, we implement, when they submit in two weeks we will implement but the last should not exceed eight weeks.

“The terms of reference of these committees are going to be agreed on between today and tomorrow. We are looking at five broad technical committees that will be subsumed into Presidential Steering Committee. There must be timelines in these terms of reference but the maximum should not exceed eight weeks. By next week Monday, we will be here again, same time.”

Also speaking, the Special Adviser to the President on Special Duties, Communication and Strategies, Dele Alake, said the meeting considered the short-term, medium-term and long-term measures in resolving the issue with the government.

He said: “We reconvened today, both parties went through this list and we tipped off the viable ones, those things are broken into three categories. The immediate, are those that can be of low-hanging fruit in the short term, the medium term and the long term.

“So those list of demands in terms of implementation and execution fall into those three broad categories of short, medium and long term categories. So that’s what we decided today and other meetings will still be held in order to cross the t’s and dot the i’s.

“One group has been constituted at today’s meeting, there is a steering committee that will be like a clearing house, there are other groups set up comprising both parties, government and labour members and these groups will work together very harmoniously and efficiently to arrive at the final resolution of all these demands and what we call interventions.”

Present at the meeting are the delegation of the NLC, led by its President,Joe Ajaero, the delegation of the TUC led by its President, Festus Osifo, the Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila, Special Adviser for Revenue, Zachaeus Adedeji and the Special Adviser for Energy, Olu Verheijen and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Kachallom Daju.

Others are the Group Chief Executive Officer, GCEO of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited NNPCL, Mele Kyari, the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission, NUPRC, Gbenga Komolafe, the CEO of Nigeria Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, NMDPRA, Farouk Ahmed among others.

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