Posted by By MODESTUS CHUKWULAKA, Abuja on
Spirited attempts by the Minister of State for Education, Dr. Sayyadi Ruma, to salvage the proposed parley between the Education Minister.....
Spirited attempts by the Minister of State for Education, Dr. Sayyadi Ruma, to salvage the proposed parley between the Education Minister, Mrs. Obiageli Ezekwesili, and labour leaders in the nation's higher institutions failed yesterday as the unionists staged a walk-out, even before the commencement of the meeting.
They were angered by the failure of the minister to be at the venue of the meeting two and half hours after the scheduled time.
Signs that the patience of the labour leaders might run out started after they had waited for Ezekwesili for more than one hour in the ministry's conference room, venue of the botched meeting.
It was then that the leader of the team, Comrade Olaitan, told the grumbling unionists that the due process made popular by Ezekwesili seemed to have taken a back seat at the Ministry of Education, and said the labour leaders would leave the venue if the minister failed to arrive 30 minutes from then.
However, at the end of the ultimatum, the labour leaders rose to sing a song of solidarity after which they gave another 30 minute grace to the minister.
But shortly before the expiration of the grace period, the Minister of State, Ruma, walked into the room to announce that the minister had been sent on an errand to represent the president at a function at the end of the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting.
Ruma, who pleaded with the guests to bear with the ministry, explained that he was in touch with the minister who had assured him she would be at the conference room in a few minutes' time, saying her absence was in the public interest.
He had even gone ahead to call for an opening prayer to commence the meeting only to leave the venue immediately after.
At exactly 4.00pm, leader of the team asked his members to give Ezekwesili another 15 minutes, and at the end of the 15 minutes he called for the solidarity song and led the labour leaders out of the room while the ministry staff watched.
However, the Chief Press Secretary to the minister, Mr. Tony Ohaeri, told Daily Sun that the minister's absence was never deliberate as she never meant to spite the labour leaders.
He explained that the minister even had to leave the secretary to the government of the federation and her other colleagues in the Federal Executive Council to be at the meeting only to find that they had left.