By Eseoghene Emuke
The alleged invasion of the private residence of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, by some officials of the Nigeria Labour Congress over the appointment of Mr. Austin Enajemo-Isire as the chairman of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund has been condemned as a illegality taken too far.
Berating NLC for its action, a group under the Delta State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) under the aegis of Coalition of Delta APC Support Groups (CDASG) said the labour body outside the law.
In a statement signed by the group’s Convener, Prince Daniel Ekuigbo, on Friday, noted that the picketing of the minister’s residence by officials of the NLC led by its President, Ayuba Wabba was, however, embarrassing.
Ekuigbo, who is also the Coordinator of Change Consolidation Coalition (3Cs), stated that the action of the NLC was aimed at intimidating the minister to accepting Chief Frank Kokori rather than Enajemo-Isire whose appointment has been approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The APC group maintained that Wabba-led NLC’s action violated Ngige’s right to private life especially barricading their environment with trucks laden with petroleum products.
He said, “The picketing of the Labour Minister’s private residence was not only unlawful and against the Trade Dispute Act of Nigeria and gross violation of the fundamental right of Dr Ngige to his private life, but also criminal and an embarrassment to organise labour organisation.
“Assuming without conceding that Ngige acted outside Presidential approval to refuse the inauguration of Kokori as chairman of the board of the NSITF, does such act constitute a trade dispute which permit the NLC to picket offices or businesses where the dispute arises?
“What exactly is NLC’s interest in the this matter? The same Kokori has been given another appointment by Mr President as Chairman of the Michael Imoudu Labour Training Institute, Ilorin, so why is NLC insisting Kokori must be Chairman of NSITF?
“The NLC must know that there are federal laws that established and regulate trade unions and trade disputes which must be obeyed by all parties, employers and employees including trade unions.”
The group, while calling on Nigerians to condemned action, it urged the leadership of the NLC to prioritise the interest of all Nigerians rather than few as every Nigerian has right to be appointed by the President to head any agency.
“NLC can only act within such laws and must restrict its protest or picketing to the official offices and in this case, perhaps offices of the Minister of Labour, the office of Mr President or other Federal Government office connected to the NSITF in its determination to compel either Dr Ngige to disobey Mr President or Mr President to change his approval from Mr Isire to Chief Kokori whichever is applicable.
“For the NLC to take its protest to the private residence of a government official for matters that are wholly and strictly official, is totally condemnable and should be denounced by all Nigerians because such act is not only lawless but violates the private life of Ngige and indeed any official of government and private sector.
“To take petrol tankers loaded with fuel and block the entrance of the Minister’s house is not only an illegal and dangerous act of intimidation but a reckless threat to life and properties of not only Dr Ngige and family but Dr Ngige’s neighbors and their families.
“Finally, we call on all Nigerians to rise up and condemn this barbaric act by the NLC. Nigerians should direct the NLC to prioritize the interest of Nigerians ahead of an individual who believes he is entitled to be appointed to a particular position by the President of Nigeria”, the statement added.