WITH virtually all its affiliate unions pulling out of the strike it threatened will shut down the nation, the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, seem to have a herculean task drumming home its rejection of the new fuel price fixed at N145 per litre by the federal government last Wednesday. This was observed from the protests it is presently staging nationwide.
To worsen its position, the faction of the union led by Joe Ajaero is not with the Ayuba Wabba-led faction on the strike, even as members of the Trade Union Congress, TUC, have pulled out of today’s planned strike action. The TUC announced this after a joint meeting between Labour leaders and the Federal government yesterday night. Electricity workers, NUPENG and PENGASSAN have already signified they will not be participating in the proposed strike action.
However, the Wabba-led faction on Tuesday night walked out of a meeting with the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, who led the government delegation, insisting on strike from Wednesday.
This is despite an order by the National Industrial Court, NIC, which restrained the NLC from the action. The restraining order was issued by NIC President, Justice Babatunde Adejumoon Tuesday afternoon after hearing an exparte application moved by the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN.
Regardless of the foregoing, a handful of NLC members came out to protest against the hike in petrol price. The protest, which began at the headquarters of the NLC in central district of Abuja to the federal secretariat, saw unionists brandishing NLC flags as they marched to major streets of Abuja. The NLC President, Wabba, and some other officials addressed members upon getting to the federal secretariat.
The protest in Abuja was joined by the members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, who also wielded placards that read: “ASUU rejects hike in pump price of petrol”.
Meanwhile, security operatives were stationed in strategic areas of the federal capital to ensure that the protest does not get out of hands, even as our correspondent observed that financial institutions and private concerns were in operation with most residents going about their normal business.
Also in Lagos, the strike failed to gain the expected momentum. The Labour union and some civil societies marched towards Ikeja from the Yaba office of the NLC. The protesters, who were led by one of the NLC’s deputy president, said they are not disrupting movement by motorist and other road users and that they are only out to sensitise Nigerians on the hardship being foisted on them by the present government.
Apart from disturbances witnessed in the Fadeyi area of the state, people have been going about their normal activities. Policemen and officials of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, dispersed NLC members who assembled at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Ikeja around 8am.
The protesters subsequently regrouped outside the airport and formed a barricade which prevented commercial vehicles from gaining access to the airport, compounding the traffic situation on the ever busy road.
Reports from Delta State said NLC members locked out workers at the main secretariat in Asaba and government owned institutions. The strike failed in the northern states of Kaduna, Sokoto, Bauchi, Yobe, Adamawa, Borno, katsina, Jigawa, Borno, Kano and Bayelsa as at Wednesday morning. There was however partial compliance in Gombe, Ogun, Akwa Ibom, Osun and Cross River States.
Meanwhile, the Lagos state governor, Akinwunmi Ambode had barred NLC from proceeding with the strike action, citing the ruling of the National Industrial Court. “It has become unlawful for any person or group to either disrupt free movement of people and vehicles or prevent normal business activities. Parents should warn their children and wards, particularly the vulnerable ones, not to allow themselves to be used or manipulated,” he said in a statement.
— May 18, 2016 @ 13:25 GMT