President Bola Tinubu has appealed to the organised labour to give him more time to look into their grievances rather than embark on industrial action.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas, disclosed this after leading members of his leadership to brief the president on the outcome of their engagement with the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), which has declared a nationwide strike action.
Abbas told correspondents after the villa meeting that President Tinubu pleaded that he is new in office and needs time to evaluate the issues that are being raised by workers over which he is yet to be briefed.
He said: “What he said is that he’s just coming on board. We should ask them and beg them to please give him a little more time. The things that they mentioned, he is completely unaware of them, he is yet to be briefed about all those issues.
“But from what he heard from me, also advised that we should channel of those issues to the Chief of Staff to look at them one after the other.
“I believe in the next coming days, some concerted actions will be taken.”
He said the House leadership invited NARD following their intention to go on strike, saying that the lawmakers succeeded in persuading the union to shelve the plan.
“Sequel to the meeting we had with them, there were a series of conditions that they gave that we felt we needed to share with the president,” he said.
The Speaker maintained that the purpose of the visit to the presidential villa on Wednesday was to intimate the President of the progress made with the doctors association.
He disclosed that the House leadership also used the visit for familiarity purposes as they had not met with the president since they emerged leaders.
The House leadership’s meeting with the president came as Leaders of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) also met with the Steering Committee on palliatives set up by the federal government.
However, the meeting was unable to convince the labour leaders to shelve their plan as they insisted on going ahead with the protest slated for August 2.
The meeting, which too place in the office of the Chief of Staff to the President was attended by Labour delegations led by the NLC President, Joe Ajaero and his TUC counterpart, Festus Osifo.
It was in continuation of the previous meeting over the initial increase of the pump price of petroleum to N520 per litre.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Ajaero insisted: “We are going ahead with the protest because we have to be emphatic on what we put in our communique, to say we’re commencing protests from the 2nd.”
On his part, the TUC President, said both sides listened to the presentations from the Steering Committee secretariat and Labour made its input into it.
“Some of the things they presented we did not agree with them. So, the areas we did not agree, we also made our impute known because when you come to such meeting it is for government or its representatives to do a presentation.
“But it’s left for us to either agree or disagree. So, during the meeting, we gave them sufficient feedback. And they also agreed to go and look at those feedbacks and get back to us on Friday,” Osifo stated.
However, the Special Adviser to the President on Energy, Ms. Olu Verheijen, who spoke on the government side progress had been made in the discussion.
She explained: “We’ve agreed to continue to make progress. It was a very productive meeting. The focus was really around how we fasttrack a lot of the interventions that will bring relief, particularly around CNG, mass transportation, cleaner energy, transportation, and reduce the impact of the cost of transportation, the increased cost of transportation.
“So we’ve made good progress. And we’re going to continue to do so and so that we can start rolling out these opportunities and this relief and measures as quickly as possible.”
On why government is dragging its feet in rolling out palliatives, she said: “We have to get it right. It’s important that we do this well, and we keep our promises. So, it’s important that whatever is announced actually gets done. Because we don’t want to make big announcements that will continue to lose people’s trust.
“It’s important that we build trust, and that most of the announcements and the plans that we roll out are credible and impactful.”
“President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is working assiduously to address all of these issues. And as quickly as he can. He’s very empathetic, he is concerned about it, as you’ve seen all of us working round the clock here to make sure that we are able to announce these measures as quickly as possible. It’s a whole package of issues that we’re rolling out as quickly as possible,” the presidential aide assured.