The relationship between the Ministry of Labour and the National Assembly worsened on Wednesday when the representative of the Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige, clashed with members of the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance, and other Financial Institutions, at a public hearing.
The public hearing was on Banks and other Financial Institutions Act Cap B3 LFN 2004 (Repeal and Reenactment) Bill 2020 (SB.178) and Electronic Transaction Bill, 2020 (SB.155).
Trouble started when the Director of Productivity and Labour Standards in the ministry, Eyewumi Neburagho, was invited to make comments on the bill that sought to amend BOFIA.
He 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 even though 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 should know how the bill would affect workers interest.
He therefore asked the senate panel to either step down further actions on the bill or expunge aspects that would affect workers’ interests.
He said, “We in the Ministry of Labour and Employment have not been availed or presented with a copy of the said bill on which this public hearing is called.
“Our aspiration is to enhance decent working, promote fair labour practices and ensure industrial harmony in the economy.”
He added, “In view of this, the Ministry of Labour and Employment wish to propose 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 submission of the ministry did not go down well with the panel who insisted that the legislative process on the bill would continue.
The chairman of the panel, Senator Uba Sani, warned the ministry against dictating to the National Assembly how it should carry on its business of law making.
He said, “We are federal lawmakers elected to make laws for the good of the country and we will not sit here and watch an appointee of an executive arm of government dictate to us on how to conduct our procedure.”