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FG condemns Labour protest at Abuja airport
 
By: Abara Blessing Oluchi
Fri, 10 Nov 2023   ||   Nigeria,
 

The Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development Festus Keyamo has faulted the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) protest at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja.

Labour had blockaded the airport owing to its faceoff with the Imo State government after the president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Joe Ajaero was beaten up in the South-East state.

The move grounded activities at the airport, leaving many travellers grounded.

But speaking at an aviation retreat for the Honourable Minister, Permanent Secretary, Directors and Head of Agencies of the Aviation Ministry, in Effurun on Thursday, Keyamo faulted the move and questioned why the unions targeted the sector that was not involved in the maltreatment of the NLC chairman.

“Aviation was not involved at all. Nothing about aviation but their target is aviation; their retaliation is aviation. So, please I want to beg them: ‘Leave us alone’. Leave aviation alone. You cannot target aviation in trying to address your grievances,” he told the gathering.

“You cannot target a nation in trying to address your grievances. In targeting aviation like the Chairman of the Senate Committee [on aviation], it is a global village, it affects foreigners coming into Nigeria. It affects ordinary Nigerians going about their normal businesses,” Keyamo maintained.

“As of yesterday, we were battling with the fact that they said for only flights for Imo that they would disrupt. But this morning, they blocked the access roads to the Abuja airport. They are disrupting the entire country.”

While the minister said he is a friend of the labour movement, he called on the protesting unionists to sheathe their swords in the interest of the nation.

The Imo State government had in the wake of the assault on Ajaero denied any involvement and accused the labour chief of dabbling into politics.

Although the unions have pencilled November 14th for a nationwide strike owing to the assault on Ajaero, Keyamo is warning them to distance themselves from politics.

“Do not allow the Labour Party to destroy the labour movement. I repeat, do not allow the Labour Party and party politics to destroy the labour movement,” he said.

“Call the leadership to order. Don’t get steeped into politics, it would destroy the movement.”

The NLC, an umbrella group of trade unions, had planned a demonstration in the Imo state capital Owerri on Wednesday over “non-payment of salaries and pensions for 44 months and violation of other labour rights,” according to its spokesman Benson.

But state police said the protest had been banned. The unions claimed “police personnel” attacked Ajaero after a crackdown on the demonstration.

 

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