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Nationwide strike provokes government

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By Mercy Kelani

All affiliates were ordered by the labour union to halt their services.

Simon Lalong, Minister of Labour, Employment and Productivity, organised a meeting with labour leaders during the nationwide strike. According to report, Trade Union Congress and leaders of the Nigeria Labour Congress attended the meeting. All affiliates were ordered by the labour union on November 14, 2023, to halt their services. This was announced by Festus Osifo, the TUC President, during his press release to the journalists in Abuja. According to Osifo, he made it known that until the governments stand up to their duties, the strike will continue.

Initially, the strike was organised to protest against the pending labour issues in Imo State and the battering of some executives of the congress in Owerri, Imo State and Joe Ajaero, the NLC President. Taking note of the announcement made by Benson Upah, the NLC’s Head of Information, Ajaero was apprehended by the state police before the commencement of the state-wide protest that happened in Imo. However, the arrest of Ajaero was denied by the police, restating that he was only taken into protective custody for a prevention of a mob attack.

Presidency tagged the strike as blackmail of the government.

Hope Uzodimma, the Imo State Governor, blamed the labour leader for interfering in the political administration of the state. Affiliates, such as Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria, Nigeria Union of Teachers, National Union of Electricity Employees, the Academic Staff Union of Universities and many others, were written before the beginning of the national strike. The Secretary General of the Trade Union Congress, Nuhu Toro and Emmanuel Ugboaja, the National Secretary, NLC, signed the letter of the affiliates.

More so, the content of the letter contained the service withdrawal by the labour Union to all workers. TUC and the Joint National Executive Council of NLC made this declaration to all Nigerian workers to stop their services effective on November 13, 2023. Thus, state councils of NLC/TUC and affiliates ordered the dissemination of the information for the maximum compliance to all workers. Also, it was announced in the meeting that the information should also be posted on social media platforms, available to the National Secretariats and be sent to the NEC office. Consequently, the planned strike was tagged by the President as a motion to blackmail the government.

Inspector-General of Police is investigating the Ajaero case.

Bayo Onanuga, the Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, stated that the proposed strike was a misuse of privilege, which is contrary to the restraining industrial court order on any system of strike. He added that the assault in Imo was a personal issue, although condemnable, should not enforce punishment on the country. He said that the strike is an ego-tripping move by TUC and NLC, which was unlawful. Furthermore, it was an attempt of NLC’s leadership to blackmail the government.

Relatively, he noted that the strike was an additional loss on more than 200 million people in the country on personal issues that concerns Mr. Joe Ajaero, NLC President, due to his misjudgement which led to catastrophe in Owerri. Considering the system of law in the country, especially in issues of assault and violence on citizens, regardless of the person’s economic status, Commissioner of Police in Imo State, who witnessed the incident, was transferred out of the state, while the Inspector General of Police initiated an investigation to evaluate the case of Ajaero.

Social activities and national economy should not be affected.

Also, it is against the law after the industrial court order to organise the national strike on workers. Importantly, it is necessary that no level must abuse its power to settle personal issues, rather the power should be used to enhance the advancement of national interest and collective progress. Furthermore, the strike was a strange move which increased the level of difficulties on the people. Emphatically, social activities and the national economy should not be affected, owing to the fact that it is a conflict of personal issues. Apparently, the labour movement has been the body that champions respect for the judiciary and the rule of law.

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