The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has described the Ministry of Labour and Employment’s directive to Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) to submit its yearly financial returns within 72 hours as invitation to industrial crisis in the country.
A statement by the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, in Abuja yesterday, said the letter by the ministry dated May 13, 2019, was a subtle way by Ngige to intimidate labour movement into submission.
Wabba said: “We wish to state that the directive by Chris Ngige for NUPENG to submit its Annual Financial Return within 72 hours is in gross violation of Section 40 of the Trade Union (Amendment) Act 2005.
Indeed, Section 40 of the Trade Union (Amendment) Act states: “Without prejudice to the foregoing provisions of this part of this Act, the Registrar may at any time call upon the treasurer, the committee of management or any other official of a registered body to prepare and submit to him within a period of 30 days from the date of the call letter detailed accounts of the funds of the body in respect of any particular period; and any accounts submitted under this section shall show in details such information as the Registrar may direct, and shall, if the Registrar so directs, be audited by the duly appointed auditor before being submitted to the Registrar.”
He submitted that the cruel urgency communicated in the ministry’s letter suggests unveiled desperation to disorganise and destroy trade unionism in the country.
Wabba noted that it is also not a coincidence that this is coming on the heels of the labour’s recent protests against the activities of the minister to undermine organised labour and trade unions in Nigeria.
The NLC president alleged that shortly after the last protest against the minister, a directive was issued to officers in the Ministry of Labour and Employment to fish for grounds on which to deal decisively with organised labour.
“We understand that the Nigeria Labour Congress is the primary target in the current overdrive to run trade unionism in Nigeria under the ground. It was only when the fishing expedition failed to grab anything against the Nigeria Labour Congress that the hunters turned their barrels on NUPENG. This attitude of vindictiveness is not only unbecoming of ‘the only competent authority on labour matters’, but also uncivilised, ungentlemanly, undemocratic, unruly and unpolished.
“Unfortunately, even the most despicable dictators in global annals have never descended to this low of shameful abuse of public office and trust to hound, persecute and terrorise innocent workers, national labour centres and their affiliate unions,” he further said.
The NLC, while demanding for the immediate withdrawal of the offensive letter, called for a public apology from Ngige.