The Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment has dismissed a media report that its Minister, Senator Chris Ngige, was booed by workers at the May Day celebration in Lagos.
In a statement, Acting Head, Press and Public Relations of the Ministry, Patience Onuobia, described the report as misleading, mischievous and spurious, contending that the report must have sprung up from the imagination of the writers who from all indications, were out to smear the hard earned reputation of the Minister as a quintessential Labour Minister, astute labour negotiator and a doyen of international labour diplomacy.
The spokesperson of the Ministry noted that at the time of the said incident in Lagos, the Minister, Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo and other dignitaries were at the Eagle Square celebrating the Labour Day with leaders and other rank and file of the Nigerian labour community.
The statement reads in part, “the attention of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment has been drawn to a misleading and malicious report that our Minister, Senator (Dr) Chris Ngige was booed by workers at the May Day celebration.
“The equally mischievous report which featured on the frontpage of the print edition of a national Newspaper and its online edition on Monday 2, 2022 as well as a few other online media, claimed that Ngige was booed by workers who sang anti- government songs at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Onikan, the venue of the Labour Day celebration in Lagos. The report claimed that the anti-government songs started from the wing where teachers and university teachers were seated, with some other workers joining.
“Curiously, the story did not feature in any other national daily. However, some notable Nigerian television networks and radio stations aired it in their newspaper review, obviously without making any effort to confirm its veracity.
“Although it is not in the character our Ministry to react to every piece of junk news, we wish to use this medium to debunk this ‘deceitful’ report, which fell short of all the known rules and ethics of the noble journalism profession.
“At the time of the said incident in Lagos, Sen. Ngige was at the Eagle Square Abuja with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the National Chairman of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), Sen. Abdullahi Adamu and other dignitaries celebrating the May Day with the rank and file of the Labour Community. At the event, Ngige received all the compliments due to his office as the Chief Labour Officer of Nigeria. His incisive speech received a standing ovation at the event. No form of hostility whatsoever was shown to him by Nigerian workers.
“This story that Ngige was booed by Nigerian workers must have sprung up from the imagination of the writers who from all indications, want to smear the hard earned reputation of Sen. Ngige as a quintessential Labour Minister, an astute labour negotiator and a doyen of international labour diplomacy.
“Regarding the strike by university workers who reportedly initiated the booing of Ngige’s representative at the Lagos May Day celebration, we wish reiterate here that the Minister has never been found wanting in his duties as the conciliator of labour disputes in the country. The case of university workers is not an exception. Although he is not their employer, he has gone beyond brokering an agreement between the university workers and their employer, the Federal Ministry of Education. He has been diligently following up on the agreement. Today, many of the issues in dispute have been resolved, with just a few outstanding, such as the payment platform and renegotiation of conditions of service.
“We urge the public to disregard the report and see it as part of the sustained campaign of calumny against Sen. Ngige since he declared his intention to contest for the office of the President of Federal Republic of Nigeria.”