The Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, has accused the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, of desperately attempting to appropriate to himself perpetually the National Social Insurance Trust Fund.
NUPENG was reacting to Ngige’s explanation and defense on the recent protest of workers that turned bloody at the residence of the Minister during the week.
Ngige, who the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC and NUPENG are accusing of attempting to secretly inaugurate the board of National Social Insurance Trust Fund, had described the protest at his Asokoro residence as hooliganism.
NUPENG, in a statement to DAILY POST on Friday, signed by its National President, Comrade Williams Akporeha, claimed that the Abuja protesters were non-violent, but only sought after the primary aim of putting pressure on the Minister within their rules of engagement to inaugurate Chief Kokori as the NSITF Chairman.
The statement added, “We want to draw the attention of the whole world to the lies and despicable antics Minister of Labour and Employment in desperate attempt to appropriate to himself perpetually the National Social Insurance Trust Fund.
“Having listened to his explanation and defense on the recent peaceful protest of the workers (But turned bloody at the instance of Mr Chris Ngige), against his attempt to secretly inaugurate the board of National Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) in his sitting room after organized labour had frustrated previous attempts, we thought it wise to not only unmasked Mr. Chris Ngige for what he is and has ever been but to also once again place the records of Chief Frank Ovie Kokori on the world screen to see and compare with the unknown and murky records of his traducer.
“Chief Chris Ngige from all indications has not represented the President Muhammadu Buhari, the Federal Government and the APC well in this whole saga. It is really disheartening and worrying that a Federal Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria would openly lie to the whole world in full glare of cameras and microphones that Nigerian workers brought fully loaded petroleum trucks to his house. This allegation was unfounded and belittling of an honourable federal Minister, former Governor and former distinguished Senator if he is ever honourable and distinguished.
“We are seriously surprised that a Minister will give an ‘alternative fact’ to the already known truth that is in public domain; he claimed that Tankers with loads of petroleum products barricaded his Asokoro residence; this is a show of shame to his status as a high-profile public servant so to say.
“We want the Nigerian public to help us ask Mr. Minister why he would want to inaugurate a Board in his private residence or at a hotel? This is an admittance to the fact that is has lost touch with decency and decorum, shamefully so.
“It is on record that defenceless workers were shot at, while some of them who sustained serious injuries were taken to the National Hospital in Abuja for treatment.
“It is a global practice that workers strive for their rights and interests through picketing, which is a form of protest in which they congregate to draw public attention to a cause that directly affects them and their members or any government policies or actions that are found injurious to their interest or welfare.
“I make bold to say that the Abuja protesters were non-violent, but only sought after the primary aim of putting pressure on the Minister within their rules of engagement to inaugurate Chief Kokori as the NSITF Chairman.
“Gentlemen and ladies of the press, there are visual and audio-visual evidences to substantiate my claim on this subject matter and I am sure as Labour Correspondents you all are abreast of this ugly development which is in public space.
“It is really appalling at this state of our national life to see topmost echelon of the NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, NUPENG, Comrade Williams Akporeha (my good self) and others, being openly assaulted by thugs and hooligans is to say the least most irresponsible and a mockery of our democracy especially the aspect of our law which accommodates freedom to assemble freely and associate with other persons, as well as freedom of association and expression. This is worst and most disrespectful.
“From all indications, Dr. Chris Ngige is no match with Chief Kokori by any standard.
“Without fear of contraction, showing solidarity to Chief Kokori this time around cannot be said to be out of place under any guise. He is such a man with intimidating and enviable credentials, known for engendering justice, never compromising oil workers’ rights and of stainless integrity, purpose and vision throughout his reign as the General Secretary of NUPENG for 17 meritorious years of indelible records and the entire labour movement benefitted immensely from his efforts.
“Without the painstaking sacrifices of the Labour movement led by Chief Kokori and others, there would have been no democracy under which an Ngige became a State Governor, a Senator of the Federal Republic and the Minister of Labour and Employment where he is currently playing god.
“Chief Frank Kokori should be remembered and celebrated at a time like this because of his role in the struggle for democracy which made the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Amnesty International (AI) and labour federations across the globe declare him prisoner of conscience between August 1994 and June 1998. Kokori was in solitary confinement for four consecutive years in the infamous Bama Prison. He was just dumped there with no charges preferred against him by the evil regime of the Military. Kokori has a lot to offer Nigeria and he should be given all the support to serve this country.
“Gentlemen and ladies of the press, today NUPENG is putting the record straight by saying in the interest of industrial peace and harmony the Minister of Labour and Employment should:
“1. Apologize openly to the organized Labour and visit our members who are currently in the hospital and we also appeal to all our members for calm with the belief that this matter would be amicably resolved within the shortest possible time.
“2. Inaugurate the board of NSITF and make our veteran, Comrade (Chief) Frank Ovie Kokori as the Chairman with no further delay and also ensure that the process is not shrouded in secrecy but must be transparent.
“3. We appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) to intervene on this matter to ensure sustenance of peace between organized Labour and the Ministry of Labour and Employment. We can never be ungrateful to him neither can we forget so soon his effort on the implementation of the N30,000 new minimum wage despite barrage of encumbrances it witnessed.
“4. We also ask all well-meaning Nigerians, to speak up on this matter as evil thrives when good people keep silent. What is the special thing or deal that Chief Chris Ngige is hiding from the public, that Chief Frank Kokori would expose if he is inaugurated as Chairman of NSITF board? “