The Federal Government has reversed its decision on the disapproval of Eagle Square for the Nigeria Labour Congress to hold its May Day celebrations. The authorities of the Federal Capital Territory had earlier withdrawn permission given to organised labour to use Eagle Square in Abuja for its May Day celebration. The withdrawal came barely three days to the celebration of International Workers’ Day on May 1. But the congress yesterday said it had resolved to hold its celebrations on the streets of Abuja following the authority’s withdrawal of access to the usual venue. Reacting to the development, the minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, said he had called his counterpart in the FCT ministry to resolve the issue.
Ngige said when he contacted his colleague, the Minister of FCT, Muhammad Bello, blamed the development on some overzealous officials. He quoted Bello to have said that the overzealous officials were acting without his authority, adding that there was a minor communication gap between the FCDA, the Federal Government Transition Committee and the NLC. The labour minister explained further: “It was actually the contractor handling the renovation of the Eagle Square, Merrs Julius Berger, that informed the Transition Committee for the hand over ceremony that they erected their equipment even before last Thursday when the Nigerian Army used the venue for an event attended by the President. “Consequently, the FCT Minister assured the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment that the place is available for NLC to use on May 1, which is Workers Day. “This May Day is the last in the life of this administration. The NLC parade belongs to everybody, including government, diplomatic missions, international organisations, organised labour and affiliate unions and members of the public. ‘The President, Ministers and others cannot shut themselves out. The Eagle Square is still available for all these individuals. “All invited people should make themselves available for the parade at Eagle Square, especially the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA), the diplomatic missions and the international partners.” Ngige added that he has been in touch with the leadership of organised Labour led by Comrade Joe Ajaero and has briefed them on these developments and equally extended the apologies of the Minister of the FCT for “the unintended embarrassment”. He noted that the FCT Administration also promised to give all necessary material support to make the event hitch free and successful, while the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment wishes all Nigerian workers a blissful Workers Day on May 1.