A new twist was added to the crises in the judicial sector, on Tuesday evening, as the leadership of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) and the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria( PASAN), walked out of the meeting scheduled to hold with the Federal Government representatives led by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige.
But in his swift response, the minister said the meeting was postponed “to enable the Federal Government negotiating team to harmonise all issues from the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) reached at separate meetings with tiers and arms of government,” on the issue in contention.
The union’s leadership stormed out of the Minister Conference room venue of the meeting in annoyance, when a meeting scheduled to begin at exactly 3 pm, did not commence till some few minutes to 5 pm when they got tired of waiting for their host.
Sen Ngige has been working to conciliate between the striking workers and the government at the federal and state level and arrest the ongoing industrial action by the unions.
Members of both JUSUN and PASAN who were seated before 3 pm staged a walkout after waiting for about two hours without being attended to by the labour minister or any government official.
Speaking with newsmen, the National Public Relations Officer of JUSUN, Comrade Koin Selepreye, who spoke with newsmen, said it was wrong for the minister to keep the workers for that long when the invitation sent to them clearly stated that the meeting was for 3 pm.
She, however, assured that the union would always avail itself of any meetings with the government with a view to resolving the crises, but won’t take it when the time fix for the meeting is not respected.
Also speaking, the National President of PASAN, Comrade Mohammed Usman, berated the minister for what he described as unfair treatment melted on the workers.
He said the workers respected time and won’t accept been kept for a meeting which should be taken seriously, considering the importance of the issues at stake.
Appeals by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Dr Peter Yerima Yarfa, and the Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on National Niger Affairs, Ita Enang, to prevail on the leadership of JUSUN and PASAN, to return for the meeting was unsuccessful.
However, the minister later said the meeting has been postponed and gave the reasons behind the postponement of the meeting.
Addressing the newsmen in his office, the Minister said this was necessary to ensure that the meeting with the unions come with a Memorandum of Action which is implementable with timelines.
“There is no point rushing to do a meeting that will be fruitless. The Judiciary, the Governors Forum and even the Presidency are involved in this negotiation because the meeting held yesterday was at the Office of the Chief of Staff to the President.
“The arising documents are not yet properly harmonized. It will therefore not be fruitful to hold a negotiation where people speak from irreconcilable positions. It won’t help us and it won’t help the unions either.” Ngige said.
According to the minister, “the reason is to ensure that the agreement reached at the end of our meeting here is put into action, with timelines for implementation. So if we don’t have a paper that is ready to go, then there will be no point for the talk shop.”
He explained that the members of the unions were in a hurry even as they were properly informed of the little time needed for him to round off a meeting with the government team, comprising the Solicitor General of the Federation, Mr Dayo Apata, the Director-General of the Governors Forum, Asishana Bayo Okauru and the Senior Special Assistant to the President, Senator Ita Enang.
He said the meeting will continue at a date to be announced soon. “It is better done properly so that the Governors can implement whatever agreement we enter into. The governors hold the ace because they hold the sovereign in their respective states, even though they are sub-nationals but they run the government of those states,” he said.
He added that the Federal Government believed in autonomy but utmost patriotism and tact have to be exercised to sift the issues in contention.
He said: “Today, fund management committees have been proposed and there is also executive Order 10. This means there is a problem and we must be very careful not to create more problems than what we are out to solve.”