Olawale Ajimotokan and Paul Obi in Abuja
The federal government and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) have agreed to establish a 16-man technical committee to discuss the issues on minimum wages and other palliatives arising from the recent increase in the price of fuel.
The technical committee will be chaired by a government nominee, Alhaji Muhammadu Buba, the former Managing Director of Pipeline Products Marketing Company (PPMC).
The agreement was reached wednesday evening after many hours of negotiation between government officials led by the Secretary of the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir David Lawal, Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, Minister of State for Solid Minerals, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, Edo State Governor, Adam Oshiomhole and NLC led by Ayuba Wabba.
The committee would discuss the minimum wage and modalities of implementing it.
It would also look at the issue of allocation of the N500 billion palliative fund provided for in 2016 budget which labour wanted to monitor how it is disbursed.
The committee would report to the committee of the whole within two weeks after its inauguration.
Lawal, who addressed journalists after the negotiation, said the outcome of the meeting would make every Nigerian happy.
“We agreed on three major issues including the minimum wage, the implementation of the N500 billion palliative captured in the budget and the reconstitution of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) board. We will also set up a technical committee headed by Muhammadu Buba, a seasoned downstream oil industry expert. He has graciously agreed to serve in this capacity. The office of the SGF has also in the last week sent letters to all the nominees drawn from oil industry, NLC, Trade Union Congress (TUC) and non-governmental organisations, Soon we are going to inaugurate them,” Lawal said.
Wabba, who walked out of the talks last week and called for strike that was unsuccessful nationwide, said yesterday’s negotiation was fruitful as it considered totally all issues in contention.
He said it was only the PPPRA which is an appropriate body by law that can take a detailed assessment of pricing issue and the template used to determine the price.
Wabba said NLC had no reservations about the arrangement that conceded the posts of the technical committee chairman and secretary to government.
He insisted that NLC would present the joint chairman and joint Secretary.
He said NLC resolved to call a strike last week to make a point, adding the union as an organization had a history of taking a position on issues that affected Nigerian workers.
Oshiomhole also cautioned that the parties should ensure that the agreement is respected, adding that the process of getting both government and labour to make concessions was a very difficult one.
“This is an difficult time for everybody, when faced with the kind of challenges confronted by government and labour. It’s not an easy solution. The leadership of government and labour have shown that as two patriots, they come together and put Nigeria first,” Oshiomhole stressed.