THE Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has extended by two weeks its ultimatum to picket the Central Bank of Nigeria headquarters and all its branches nationwide over the scarcity of naira notes.
Comrade Joe Ajaero, NLC President, and his Trade Union Congress (TUC) counterpart, Comrade Festus Osifo, disclosed on Tuesday at a joint press briefing which held at Labour House, at the end of their joint National Executive Council meeting.
The NLC had last week threatened to embark on a national strike and picketing of CBN branches across the country. However, Mr Godwin Emefiele, the CBN governor, in the effort to avert the protest, called on Dr Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour and Employment, to mediate and calm organised labour.
According to Comrade Ajaero, after briefings from state councils of Congress in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, the NLC decided to extend the ultimatum to picket by two weeks, as reports from state councils indicate that the naira scarcity crisis was easing off.
According to Ajaero, NLC would resume the planned protest if the scarcity of naira notes persists by the end of the two-week ultimatum. He noted that towards this end, the NEC had set up committees at both the national and state levels to monitor situations in banks and report to it two weeks’ time.
“Yes, there has been compliance but the NLC after its NEC meeting doubted the sustainability of the compliance. We have to monitor this compliance for the next two weeks to see whether it is sustainable because they have rushed to move money to commercial banks and some of them are getting empty again. It will be very naïve for the Congress to hurriedly call off the action. Whereas we are not shutting down tomorrow.
“We will want to loosen up for another two weeks with committees set up at the national level and all the states of the federation to coordinate compliance. There are some banks that didn’t open on the weekend. We advise the CBN to play the role of the regulator. They can sanction banks that are not complying.
“The first and second day the CBN said the money they were pushing per week they were pushing it daily. I wouldn’t know if they are still pushing it daily. They have constrained the banking sector. Nigerians have suffered so much. Even those who have withdrawn N10,000 are afraid to bring it out in case the scarcity returns.
“The NLC and TUC have decided to allow tomorrow pass without any shutdown or picketing but to watch the next two weeks. After two weeks from today (Tuesday), the NEC of the two Labour centres will meet again and decide whether the CBN has actually complied and whether their compliance is sustainable to drive the economy,” Comrade Ajaero said.
Comrade Osifo, on his part, assured that organised labour would continue to protect the interest of workers and Nigerians, stressing that the two labour centres would sustain the pressure on the CBN to make naira notes available to Nigerians.
“We have agreed that we need to sustain this push for another two weeks. Reports from various states showed that there has been some level of compliance but some banks didn’t open at the weekend.
“We call on the CBN to sustain this action because the quantum of money Nigerians need now is even higher if this panic had not come in because an average Nigerian will withdraw money and be spending it little by little,” Comrade Osifo said, adding that “the confidence in the system has been eroded and because that confidence has been eroded the CBN needs to do more by pumping more money into the economy.”