The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, presides over a meeting with judiciary and parliamentary workers in Abuja yesterday, May 20, 2021.
The Federal Government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) and the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN) in its bid to resolve the strike by the unions.
This followed an earlier meeting between the government and the leaders of the unions presided over by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, on Thursday in Abuja, the state capital.
It was the latest in the series of meetings to address the issues that led to the ongoing industrial action by the judiciary and parliamentary workers unions since April 6.
At the end of the meeting, both parties signed an agreement asking state governments to commence the implementation of financial autonomy to the states.
They were asked to transfer their statutory allocations, beginning with the April Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) allocation expected to be shared next week.
Briefing reporters at the end of the meeting, the minister was hopeful that the workers would call off the strike as soon as their accounts were credited when the April federal allocations were shared.
He assured Nigerians, especially those who have pending court cases that there was a renewed hope that the industrial action would soon be suspended.
However, the courts across the country would remain closed until then.
Also at the meeting were representatives of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), as well as federal and states legislators, among others.
Following a failed negotiation meeting between the government and the striking workers last month, President Muhammadu Buhari had directed his Chief of Staff, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, Ngige, and other relevant stakeholders to address the problem with the unions.
He explained that the directive became necessary to ensure the issues raised by the workers were resolved to resume activities in various courts across the country.
The Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Kayode Fayemi, had told journalists after a meeting with Professor Gambari that the governors were not opposed to financial autonomy for the judiciary.
On April 20, leaders of JUSUN and PASAN walked out from the venue of a meeting scheduled with the minister as they refused to listen to pleas from the permanent secretary who informed them that Ngige was holding a meeting with the government team in his office.
But Ngige said the meeting was postponed to enable the government’s negotiating team harmonise all issues from the Memorandum of Understanding reached at separate meetings with tiers and arms of government.
According to him, there is no point rushing to do a meeting that will be fruitless, and the arising documents are not yet properly harmonised.