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 Festus Osifo: Despite Not Joining, TUC Isn’t Condemning NLC Strike

“What they have done is part of the Labour agitation. At the end of the day, it is about the goal and getting the best for Nigerians.”

In an interview with ARISE NEWS on Tuesday, the President of the Trade Union Congress, Festus Osifo, said that the Nigerian Labour Congress takes its decisions just as the Trade Union Congress does, even though in most cases, they harmonise in their decisions. 

He explained that members of the TUC had a meeting and concluded that “when we advocate and give time lines to the government, we don’t just go to sleep but follow up.” 

He said meetings have been had with the governors forum and the federal government, and the TUC made inputs and pushed for the N5 billion for palliatives when the government proposed less.

He said the government has approved some kits for CNG per their demands, but there is no infrastructure in place for the CNG cars, so “we told the government that this cannot work, and they must deploy infrastructure.”

According to him, these are some of the engagements they have had behind the scenes; they have yielded some results that may not be sufficient, but the TUC is still pushing and having engagements with the management of NNPC.

Osifo said, “The TUC is engaging with the NNPC to have retail stations cut across the countty. “With Oando, which was bought by NNPC, they can deploy CNG infrastructure around different areas of the country, and “moves are being made in this regard.” 

He said the NEC section of the TUC was briefed on the inputs they have had, saying “we did not just fold our arms and wait for the government to fault us, but we kept checking on them and pushing them to do the needful.”

The NEC’s feedback was that the TUC keeps the dialogue with the government and keeps pushing them because “the N5 billion for palliative care is just a starting point; the three thousand buses are also a starting point, as in labour, we don’t reject what is given to our people, we accept and we push more.”

He said the federal government has not done anything for federal workers, most of whom are TUC members, and “we are also pushing the government on the issue of wage awards” as transport is high. Discussions will continue in the next week, and “we have given the minister of labour a one-week ultimatum, and if it is not fixed, we cannot hold our members.” 

They in turn appealed for some time, as one week will not be enough since the president has travelled.

 Osifo made it clear that the TUC is not against the measures the NLC is taking as they are part of the labour agitation because for the TUC, “if we feel that our best strategy is to push from one end and the NLC pushes from another end, it is all about the goal of getting the best for Nigerians.”

The president of the Trade Union Congress said that even though the government has given them time lines for some of these infrastructures to be put in place, they will keep pushing. “We will not go to sleep but keep checking at intervals to see what they have done. We are pushing the government to have further MOUs with private companies willing to fund CNGs.”

He said it was discovered in Lagos State that the offices of the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria were locked and their buses seized, which is unacceptable by the TUC, and an ultimatum was given to the Lagos State government to resolve the issue.

At the end of the interview, Osifo said he would classify the meeting with the new minister of labour as good since it is the first time they are meeting with him and they have decided to give him the benefit of the doubt on his promises.

Catherine Amaga

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