July 29th: In an interview with PUNCH Newspaper, Peter Ozo-Eson, NLC secretary warns the federal government there will be an industrial crisis if President Muhammadu Buhari returns Chris Ngige as minister of labour and productivity. He admonished the FG to give Ngige a new portfolio in the next cabinet.
Ngige is one of the 43 ministerial nominees who was asked by the senate to take a bow after undergoing screening exercise. The former minister of labour had had a running battle with the leadership of NLC over his delayed inauguration of the National Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) board.
Ozo-Eson declared Ngige as being unfit for the portfolio, saying he lacks an understanding of how the ministry works. He says
We think that government will be looking for problem if Ngige is returned to the Ministry of Labour and Productivity as minister because he does not understand how the place works and his own approach will create an unnecessary industrial crisis. If the government is properly advised, it should look for where to put him. Ngige is a square peg in a round hole in the ministry.
It should be noted that labour unions and some Nigerians had taken on Ngige for saying that Nigeria had no problem with doctors leaving the country because there were more than enough of them in the country to man hospitals. In reaction, Nwachukwu Obidiwe, personal assistant to Ngige, said the former minister has no personal rift with the NLC leaders.
It is the responsibility of the president to appoint and assign portfolios to ministers. Ngige will willingly serve in whichever ministry the president so decides. Besides, he has no personal issue with labour.
What happened at the end of the last term was a matter of steadfastness to the rule of law or otherwise. He chose the rule of law in respect of the appointment of the chairman of the board of the NSITF.
Don’t forget that labour later saw reason with his action, forcing the (former) president of the TUC at the valedictory organised by the ministry on May 26, 2019, to apologise on behalf of labour while commending him for his unimpeachable labour administration style.