Director of Productivity and Labour Standards in the Federal Ministry of Labour, Employment and Productivity, Eyewumi Neburagho, who represented the minister, Dr. Chris Ngige, yesterday clashed with members of the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance, and other Financial Institutions, at a public hearing organised by the committee on two bills.
They are Banks and other Financial Institutions Act, BOFIA and Electronic Transaction Bill, 2020, respectively.
Trouble started when Neburagho was invited to make comments on the bill that seeks to amend BOFIA.
The director caused a stir when he demanded the suspension of both the public hearing and the bill pending when the Senate committee would formally invite the ministry and send a copy of the draft bill to it.
Neburagho argued that being a major stakeholder, the ministry was not carried along in the public hearing but decided to send a representative when it stumbled on the information in the media.
He said the ministry must know how the bill would affect workers interest.
The director therefore said the Senate panel should either step down further actions on the bill or expunge aspects that would affect workers interest.
“Although the ministry has never seen the bill and was not invited to this public hearing, we felt constrain to make an intervention in in view of the information that section 45 of the bill is intended to make legislation to cover matters relating to labour administration and industrial relations,which matters are within the purvey of the Federal Ministry of Labour.
“Nigeria has ratified the international Labour Organisation convention no 144 on tripartite consultation, traditional labour standard,
“The ratification implies that in undertaking a process of enactment of any global policy or legislation,the Nigerian social partners, comprising e-governments and employers of workers organisations must consult and dialogue among themselves with a view to reaching consensus on the proposed law or policy in question.
“We in the Ministry of Labour and Employment have not be availed or presented with a copy of the said bill on which this public hearing is called.
“Rather, in view of the interventions of the Nigerian Labour Congress on part of the bill as it affects the issue of labour legislation, we will like to state that this public hearing be stepped down until the bill is circulated to all social partners to ascertain if the bill meets international labour standards and best practices.
“Our aspiration is to enhance decent working, promote fair labour practices and ensure industrial harmony in the economy.
“In view of this, the Ministry of Labour and employment wish to proposed that the proposed bill be stepped down and the public hearing be suspended until the labour issues in the bill are sorted out in the appropriate tripartite consultative forum.
“On the other hand, the sponsors of the bill may wish to expunge the labour aspect of the bill and go ahead with the areas on digital financial transactions.”
The submissions of the ministry did not go down well with the panel who insisted that the legislative process on the bill would continue.
Chairman of the panel, Senator Uba Sani (APC Kaduna Central) warned the ministry against dictating to the National Assembly on how it is carrying out its business of law making.
He said: “We are federal lawmakers elected to make laws for the good of the country and we would not sit here and watch an appointee of an executive arm of government dictating to us on how to conduct our procedure.”
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