The Federal Government declared on Wednesday that it has no concerns about a potential economic shutdown just hours before the expiration of the 21-day ultimatum imposed by organized labor.
This is despite the fact that last Monday’s negotiations came to a standstill since neither party could agree on the demands of the labour unions over the elimination of the fuel subsidy.
“I don’t think there is any problem. We don’t have any fears about some of the things they (labour) put on the table and also the suggestions and the package of the Federal Government,” the Minister of Labour, Simon Lalong, told State House Correspondents after a private meeting with Vice President Kashim Shettima, at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja, Wednesday evening.
Lalong had met the organized labor in Abuja a few days ago. However, the Nigerian Labour Congress demanded that the FG must comply with its requests before the 21-day deadline it established on September 1 and all parties were unable to come to an agreement.
The union had issued a 21-day deadline in response to the delay in the distribution of palliatives, stating that if its demands were not met, it might be forced to launch an indefinite strike.
It declared that everything is prepared for a complete shutdown of the economy, which will begin on Friday after the ultimatum’s expiration.
Arising from his meeting with Shettima, the labour minister responded to questions about the deadline for an indefinite strike by the organized labour, saying, “As for me, I don’t think there is any problem. We have fully spent time with the Nigerian labour and the posture of the President too is towards the welfare and prosperity for workers.
“We have no doubt and that’s why, in many of our meetings with them, we did not end up boxing ourselves. We hope that the best is going to come.”
On the strike threats, he said, “Don’t worry about that. That’s why I said it’s a friendly engagement we are having with them.”
Pressed by journalists for definite remarks on whether or not the strike kicks off on Thursday, the former Plateau State Governor sidestepped, saying “I don’t want to say that; I’m not the NLC’s President.”