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The Rivers State Chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the State Government have been told to return to the negotiation table at once in order to avert crisis.
Dr. Dakuku Peterside, Director General of NIMASA said the hard lines taken by both government and labour is rather disturbing.
According to him, while the NLC is accusing the State Government of not paying workers the genuine minimum wage, the Governor Nyesom Wike-led administration says what it paid was in line with the approval given by the Federal Government.
He regretted that the matter has been allowed to degenerate to a point where the State Government is daring Labour to carry out its threat to embark on a protest.
The Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) urged Governor Wike and the NLC to desist from acts which may heat up the polity.
He also called on the Rivers state government to look at complaints laid out by NLC with an open mind, warning that a solution would prove difficult to find if government were to address the issue from the point of view of an “oppressor who can do no wrong.”
Peterside mildly dismissed the claim by the governor that the NLC was being encouraged by external forces to encamp against his administration.
In his own words,  “It seems the NLC does have a case and the only logical thing to do is to listen to them and not accuse them of being used by imaginary politicians.”
“Perhaps Wike has forgotten that the same workers declared their support for him during the governorship election”, Peterside observed.
“There is no crime in calling the leadership of NLC to a meeting”, the Rivers-born politician and administrator advised the Rivers government in order to “resolve grey areas” instead of “threatening them with dire consequences. Only an emperor behaves this way and this is not the way to go.”
He went on, “The combative nature of the governor on many occasions leaves much to be desired and it is in this kind of situation that you expect him to be re-conciliatory rather than confrontational.”
The NIMASA boss equally had a few words for members of organized labour.
He called on the State’s NLC leadership to explore all possible avenues in its bid to amicably resolve contending issues.
Peterside expressed fear that the economy of the State would shrink further in size if the escalating difference between labour and government is not reasonably dealt with.
“Let me call on the leadership of NLC to explore as many platforms as possible in trying to resolve grey areas. Anything short of this will have a telling effect on the state’s economy and productivity.
“Let me also appeal to the workers to remain calm and trust in the ability of the State Government and NLC to iron out contending issues to the benefit of all. We must keep the economy of the state going,” he stated.
Many fear that the arrow has already left the bow. Last week, the Secretariat of the NLC was completely sealed by security forces.
A labour official who spoke to this medium said, “All of a sudden the NLC Secretariat has been invaded by men in uniform. Do we not have a right in this country to hold opinion; and a right to peaceful protest?
“Our Governor has lost it. He has gradually become intoxicated by power. So, he has thrown decorum and respect for others to the dogs. Now that he has a second tenure, he has become increasingly dictatorial. How can he send security forces to invade the office of the NLC?”, the official queried.