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Cash Crunch: Minister engages CBN, NLC to avert nationwide protest, strike

Sen. (Dr.) Chris Ngige, Honourable Minister for Labour and Employment (middle) Welcomes Mr. Godwin Emefiele, Governor of CBN (2nd left), Mr. Joe Ajaero, President of NLC (2nd right), and Other Officials to a Meeting in Abuja, FCT

*Sen. (Dr.) Chris Ngige, Minister for Labour and Employment, urges the Nigeria Labour Congress to engage the Central Bank of Nigeria in effective dialogue, to prevent its planned nationwide strike that could cause more pain to Nigerian consumers and economy

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

As the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) monitors the expected improvement in the recent cash crunch, Sen. (Dr.) Chris Ngige, Honourable Minister for Labour and Employment, Monday, March 27, 2023,  met with Joe Ajaero, President of NLC, and top officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), led by Mr. Godwin Emefiele, Governor of the Bank, in Abuja, FCT.

ConsumerConnect learnt the Minister’s move was to  prevent planned strike and picketing of the CBN offices nationwide by members of NLC.

Photo collage of a recent situation in regard to availability of Naira notes in Lagos

Receiving the groups at the Ministry of Labour, in Abuja, Sen. Ngige urged the NLC to engage the CBN through effective dialogue, rather than adding more pain to the already troubled economy.

A reliable source privy to the meeting Monday told The Guardian that Ngige said engaging in social dialogue would help the CBN to adjust faster than when Labour tips the economy to a crisis point.

The source reportedly disclosed there was a significant response from the CBN, but that they needed to continue to dispense more cash into the economy in order to ensure that money gets to the nooks and crannies of the country.

The CBN also promised to ensure the availability of sufficient cash in the economy, noted the source.

The source stated: “He (Emefiele) promised that they will ensure cash flow in the economy and promised to extend and deepen what they are doing already, to ensure it circulates; and that by tomorrow there will be a greater improvement in the availability of cash.”

NLC’s NEC to meet on current situation Tuesday: Ajaero

Ajaero, at the meeting, said the NLC team had to report back to its National Executive Council (NEC) to give a fresh directive on what has been observed.

He noted: “Our members of NEC are from different states; so they will give their respective reports on what is going on in their states.

“So based on their experiences in their respective states, decisions will be taken, whether to go on strike or not to go on strike.”

The NLC also directed workers to report banks not dispensing cash to the state councils, report stated.

The Labour Union also, had scheduled its NEC meeting for Tuesday, March 28, to take a final decision concerning Wednesday’s planned nationwide strike, report said.

The NLC gave the directive after its NEC meeting penultimate Friday, where affiliate unions and state councils were directed to monitor the cash situation and the progress banks were making in terms of cash disbursement.

It is recalled that officials of the CBN, last week, had met with the leaders of NLC on the Bank’s ongoing efforts at stabilising the cash situation across the West African country.

The CBN officials also told the NLC that about N20 billion was pushed out last weekend, with Lagos and Abuja getting N4 billion and N2 billion respectively in a bid to address the current cash shortage crisis in the economy.

The CBN as well has directed that commercial banks should work Saturdays and Sundays, extending their working hours to stabilise the situation in Nigeria.

Ajaero, President of NLC,  is expected to speak to the media Tuesday, in Abuja, to unveil the next action of the organised labour movement amid speculation of a possible suspension of the planned strike, according to report.

A source Monday night, in Abuja, disclosed though the NLC had activated its state councils as well as affiliates at its National Executive Council (NEC) last Friday, which was held via Zoom, there is still no decision on the actual date the protest will take place.

The source explained: “What we resolved to do at the Friday meeting is not anchored on an identifiable level of improvement.

“There was a team from the CBN that engaged the Centre on the issue.

“The team explained what the CBN is doing to ensure there is cash.

“They told us some of the challenges they are confronting in doing that. “So, NLC can no longer declare the protest after being told all of these.

“I must say that the NLC is not interested in carrying out the protests for the sake of it.

“At the meeting, we did not state the level of improvement that must be made before we proceed or halt the process.

“So, we will examine the level of availability between today (Monday) and tomorrow (Tuesday) before we make a decision.”

Banks confirm receipt of additional cash from CBN

Meanwhile, most banks have confirmed receipt of cash though there were notable queues for cash at the ATMs as of Tuesday afternoon in several parts of Lagos metropolis.

It was also learnt that most banks in Abuja were dispensing cash over the counter.

A banker who spoke on the condition of anonymity said customers can now collect up to N200,000 over the counter while corporate bodies can access up to N500,000.

He added: “The CBN has directed that the suspended caps on withdrawals be removed. “Now, corporate bodies can collect up to N500,000 while individuals can get up to N200,000 on the counter.

“We also have a reasonable amount of money to put into the ATMs.

“The pressure we had a few weeks ago has come down as you can see yourself.”

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