Chris Ngige meets NLC, CBN officials over planned ‘stay-at-home’

Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, yesterday met with representatives of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in an effort to prevent the NLC’s planned nationwide picketing of CBN offices over the lack of naira notes.

The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, was joined by two Deputy Governors, Kingsley Obiora (Economic Policy) and Ade Shonubi, while the NLC delegation, which consisted of ten people, was led by Comrade Joe Ajaero and Emmanuel Ugboaja (Organised Private Sector).

Recall that the Congress threatened to launch a national strike if the Federal Government did not solve the cash shortage, fuel scarcity, and energy tariff increases.  The NLC directed workers to stay at home from Wednesday if there were no improvements in the situation. In response, the CBN made old naira notes available to commercial banks and directed the banks to operate during the weekend to ease the cash crunch.

The NLC is expected to review the situation today, Tuesday and take a decision on the planned nationwide protest.

In an issued statement at the end of the meeting by the Director, Press and Public Relations of the ministry, Olajide Oshundun, Ngige refuted the allegation by the NLC that the ministry did nothing about the unavailability of naira notes.

He said on receiving the letter from NLC, he forwarded it to the CBN Governor before travelling out of the country for an International Labour Organisation (ILO) Governing Board meeting and directed the Permanent Secretary and Trade Union Services and Industrial Relations Department to follow-up.

The Minister maintained that the ministry took the necessary step by sending the letter to CBN Governor, who received it and assured that action would be taken.

The CBN Governor said large volumes of funds were made available to the deposit money banks and they were directed to open their branches on Saturdays and Sundays, and they complied under strict supervision by the CBN. According to Emefiele, following the steps taken, Nigerians have been enjoying their money.

Earlier, Comrade Ajaero said they only got a reply to their second letter to the ministry and subsequently, an invitation to the meeting. He said they no longer envisage any problem, since CBN has started sending cash to the banks and Nigerians were now accessing their money.

The NLC president acknowledged that meetings have taken place in the spirit of good dialogue. He, however, urged the CBN to improve on their services, regretting the information gap created in the implementation of the naira redesign policy.

Ajaero assured that the National Executive Committee (NEC) of NLC will meet tomorrow (today) Tuesday, 28th of March, where members from states and Local Government Areas are expected to report on availability of money, after which a decision will be taken on the planned strike. 

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