The organized labor has expressed skepticism regarding the effectiveness of the Femi Gbajabiamila-led panel in negotiating with workers and devising measures to mitigate the impact of the abrupt removal of petrol subsidy on citizens.
During a visit to the Senate leadership, Joe Ajaero, the National President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), conveyed these concerns. He noted that the Gbajabiamila-led panel, tasked by President Bola Tinubu, had not engaged with organized labor despite two months passing since the fuel subsidy removal in Nigeria.
Ajaero highlighted challenges in the negotiation process, stating, “Part of our challenge is the issue of the committee put in place. The Committee seems not to be capable. As a labor union, we have had a series of negotiations to resolve industrial disputes with government officials in the past. At no time had the Chief of Staff to the President, who is always very busy, called to negotiate or lead negotiations.”
He expressed disappointment that the promised restructuring of engagement mechanisms with the government had not yielded improvements. Ajaero also raised concerns about the $800 million World Bank loan intended to mitigate the subsidy removal’s impact, urging the government not to follow past disbursement records and to provide clear criteria for identifying those in need.
In response, the President of the Senate, Senator Godswill Akpabio, thanked organized labor for their patience and cooperation in finding solutions to the effects of fuel subsidy removal. He acknowledged the financial challenges inherited by the current administration and assured that efforts were being made to alleviate Nigerians’ suffering.
Akpabio assured the labor unions of the Senate’s commitment to partnering with them to address longstanding trade disputes and enact legislation to benefit workers and citizens. The meeting between the organized labor and the Senate leadership continued behind closed doors after the initial formal session.