The organized labor left the Presidential Steering Committee meeting on subsidy palliatives on Friday at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa in Abuja.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) President, Joe Ajaero, had led his team to the Chief of Staff’s office, where the meeting was being held, but they were soon leaving the mansion.
The government delegation and the steering committee met on Wednesday, and the two sides decided to meet again on Friday to hear updates from the three subcommittees formed to look into various issues.
The government formed the group to develop palliatives that would lessen the impact of eliminating gasoline subsidies on the workforce.
However, the meeting was unable to continue because, in the opinion of certain Steering Committee members, there was not a quorum.
The federal government was charged by the workers union with misleading Nigerians by using the meetings as a cover.
Three subcommittees, the Mass Transit, the Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), and the Cash Transfer subcommittees, were expected to be present to inform the Steering Committee of the steps taken to mitigate the impact of the elimination of fuel subsidies on the workforce. This was verified by a source at the meeting.
Government representatives who are part of the subcommittees, according to labor, were allegedly nowhere to be found.
They are not prepared for the meeting, according to the union Steering Committee member who spoke on the condition of anonymity. That is the reality. Even though there was no quorum present, the government representatives urged that the meeting should continue.
“They are misleading Nigerians by utilizing cover. Three subcommittees—the cash transfer, the CNG, and the mass transport subcommittee—were scheduled to inform the steering committee and us, but the government was unprepared.
“In their opening remarks, they offered justifications and demanded that the meeting go on even if a quorum was not present. We are a people that base our actions on procedures. So what do you do if there isn’t a quorum at a meeting? Due to a lack of quorum, you will adjourn.
“No one was available to meet with. They are taking our kids, and the chief of staff wasn’t there.
However, it was learned that Femi Gbajabiamila, the chief of staff, had previously waited for the labor delegation in his conference room together with other team members.
Later, while other members of the government team were waiting for the organized workers to arrive, he left the Villa to attend to other official business.
At the State House entry gate, also known as Mopol gate, the representatives of organized labor from the National Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) were allegedly delayed in a clearing.
According to the information, the labor delegation’s delay in arriving at the conference was caused by the failure to provide their names at the gate for clearance.
One of the labor delegation’s leaders had previously informed journalists, “We were detained at the gate.”
The botched meeting would have been the fourth in a line of gatherings they have had since the reduction of fuel subsidies went into effect.
It was an extension of earlier discussions on the first rise in the price of fuel at the pump to N520 a liter.
For August 2, organized labor has already planned a statewide rally to highlight its demands for the elimination of gasoline subsidies.
At the steering committee’s most recent meeting, which was held last Wednesday, government representatives failed to persuade the leaders of the labor movement to abandon their action plan.