•Declares warning strike ‘highly successful’
•Shuts down airport, govt institutions, banks, others in Kano
•Maritime workers withdraw services at ports
The first day of the two-day nationwide warning strike called by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to press the federal government to finalise post-petrol subsidy removal palliatives for workers recorded mixed compliance nationwide.
THISDAY’s findings across the states showed that while there was full compliance by the NLC and its affiliate unions in some state, others recorded partial compliance and in some states, the level of compliance was poor.
But the leadership of the NLC claimed that the first day of its warning strike was highly successful.
The labour movement said it was delighted with the massive support Nigerians gave the strike against hardship imposed by the removal of fuel subsidy by the Federal government.
In a statement signed by the NLC President, Joe Ajaero, the congress said the strike achieved success having, “sent the right message to those who doubt our determination to push through with our objectives.”
It added: “This is to applaud all Nigerian workers through the actions of all our affiliates and state councils for the massive support and efforts at ensuring that the first day of the nationwide warning strike took off with a resounding success across the nation.
“You have all demonstrated that your words and decisions will always be backed by action. This has resonated in every part of the country today and we are sure that the message has been sent to those who doubt our determination to push through with our objectives.
“We are glad to inform you that all of our objectives for the first day were fully met because of the high level of compliance experienced as a result of your collective efforts around the federation.”
The NLC further commended Nigerians for their commitment towards ensuring that the reasons for the warning strike were fulfilled.
“We however urge you all to continue with the same zeal and determination which saw the huge success that was recorded today as we move to the second and final day of the nationwide strike to ensure a complete success of the entire exercise,” it added.
While thanking all Nigerian workers and indeed the masses for their understanding, the NLC stated: “As we go through this trying time, we call for more efforts of the kind you showed today and urge all of us to join hands to ensure that all loopholes observed during today’s action are plugged so that tomorrow’s action will be a total success.
“It is our civic duty to ensure that we are governed effectively and that those in government remain accountable to the people at all times!
“We are committed to that and with your continued support, our nation will surely become a better place for all of us.”
Abuja Witnesses Blackout Due to Strike
Residents of the Federal Capital Teritory (FCT) woke up to experience power outage around the city and its environs as organised labour commenced the first day of its two-day warning strike in protest over the harsh economic situation in the country.
Also there were reports of disruptions in normal water supply to some residential areas in Abuja.
The labour strike also disrupted normal operations in several ministries and parastetals in the Abuja. However, some banks opened for operations despite the directive by the National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions Employees (NUBIFIE) urging total compliance with the two-day warning strike.
According to a public awareness notice issued by the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC), the organisation said:” We are aware of the general power outage being experienced across our franchise due to the enfircent by the NLC of Two-Day warning strike embarked upon by the labour union.
The statement read: “We apologise for any inconvenience you may be experiencing as a result of this, as we continue our engagement with key stakeholders towards minimising the impact of the strike on our customers.”
Airport, Govt Institutions, Banks Others Comply in Kano
The enforcement team of the Kano Chapter of the NLC shut down public and private institutions as part of the measures to ensure strict observance of the two-day nationwide warning strike in the state.
In the early hours of yesterday, an enforcement team was on the ground to shut down the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA), schools, government offices, banks, Kano Electricity Distribution Company (KEDCO), and other facilities in the state.
The State Vice Chairman of the union, Ado Riruwai, who led the enforcement exercise explained that it shut down all government offices in the state.
Speaking with journalists, the State Chairman of the union who led the enforcement team, Kabiru Inuwa, explained that the strike action became necessary as it appeared that the federal government was paying lip service to the sufferings of the Nigerian masses months after removing fuel subsidy.
He lamented that workers in the Kano were witnessing unimagined hardship as the minimum wage was no longer sufficient, coupled with the heightened cost of living standard.
“While top government officials still maintain an extravagant lifestyle, the poor masses are still grappling with the necessities of life.
“This is just a warning strike, as announced by the national body and if the FG fails to meet the demands of the masses, then an indefinite strike will take place.
“If it reaches a stage where labor embarks on an indefinite strike, there will be no turning back until the FG meets all demands of the NLC,” he added.
In Lagos, Members of NLC in Maritime, Bank Sectors Withdraw Services
In Lagos, among other federal government agencies, the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) shut the entrance to the Apapa and Tincan ports, with members brandishing placards calling on the federal government to end the mass hunger and suffering in the country.
The Secretary-General of MWUN, Erazua Oniha, said in total compliance with the strike, members withdrew their services from the ports, jetties and terminals, as well as all oil and gas platforms nationwide.
“Our demand is about the hike in price of petrol which is making lives of Nigerians to be somehow difficult due to the removal of subsidy.
“Another one is the interference of federal government in the NURTW crisis, whereby the national secretariat of the body was taken over,” he said.
Even banks that are unionised and under NUBIFIE, were not left out as their head offices were shut down by labour.
Chairman of NLC, Lagos Council, Funmi Sessi, said members were at home and that those operating were TUC members.
“All NLC affiliates are at home. Those at workplaces are TUC members. If we say we should go and do a total shut down there might be a breakdown of law and order between us and TUC. I will be at Alausa secretariate to monitor the compliance level and those who are out will be reported to the national body,” she said.
NCAA Directs Aviation Workers to Report to Work
The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) yesterday, directed all aviation workers to report to duty, saying failure to do so would amount to sabotage of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Universal Safety Oversight Audit Program (USOAP).
The ICAO team arrived Abuja on August 28, for the much-awaited audit of the nation’s airports and the NCCA for the Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP).
The team started the audit from NCAA, going through safety critical processes, manuals, certifications, trainings and qualifications of technical personnel.
The team extended its work to the Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB) and may conclude the audit on the agency tomorrow, as all the aviation agencies where air safety is critical would be audited by the ICAO team.
This was why the NCAA felt that it was pertinent that aviation workers should be on their posts while the audit was going on; otherwise, it would seem they chose to sabotage the audit and the international rating of Nigeria’s aviation sector.
A circular signed by Wakil Adamu from the office of the Director General, NCAA, with Ref. No: NCAA/DHR&A/03/1549/1/163, dated 4th September, 2023, addressed to all aviation workers, stressed on the need for the workers to be on their jobs while the audit is going on, noting the importance of the audit exercise, which it said cannot be overemphasised.
“This is to inform all members of staff that management has directed all staff to report to their duty post, failure to comply, will be taken as sabotage of the ICAO’s USOAP.
“The importance of the ongoing audit in the aviation industry should not be over emphasised.”, the circular stated.
Ogun State Records Partial Compliance
The NLC strike recorded partial compliance in Ogun State as some civil servants, health workers in some government hospitals, reported for work at their respective duty posts. At some of the federal institutions visited yesterday, which included the Federal Medical Center, Idi-Aba Abeokuta, only medical doctors and nurses were fully on ground to carry out their duties, while other workers who are members of the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN) were absent.
Same scenario was recorded at the State Hospital, Ijaiye, Abeokuta, where the premises was under locks and keys even from the main gate.
At the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), the strike recorded a full compliance as members of the Non-Academics Staff Union (NASU) paralyses activities in the institution.
However, commercial bank workers complied with the directive to stay off work.
Source within the banking sector in Ogun State however, confided that management of some of the money deposit banks placed their workers on a “stand-by” in case of any change in the arrangements.
At the State Secretariat Complex in Oke Mosan area of Abeokuta, some civil servants, particularly, those whose unions, were under the umbrella of the Yrade Union Congress (TUC), reported for work.
This was because the TUC did not join the strike.
The Chairman of the TUC in Ogun State, Mr. Akeem Lasisi, disclosed that members of the Council would not be participating strike, due to ongoing engagement with the federal government.
In Benue, Strike Records Success
The two days warning strike by the NLC in Benue State recorded huge success in Makurdi, the Benue State capital. Banks and government offices complied with the NLC’s directives, while other institutions partially complied too
Speaking to newsmen on the decision of the NLC to call out workers, the Benue State Chairman of the NLC, Terungwa Igbe, who led a team to monitor the exercise maintained that the timing of the removal of petrol subsidy by the federal government was completely wrong.
The NLC Chairman said: “The fuel subsidy removal is something that has affected all of us. Before now if you have N20,000 it was something, but now it is worthless.
“If you buy N10,000 fuel it will hardly take you for three days. The hardship in the country is too much, and the government is looking the other way.
“That is why we have asked the industrial unions to tell their members to stay at home.”
On the failure of the TUC to join the action, Igbe said “TUC non participation in the warning strike will not affect us.”
Socio-economic Activities Grounded in A’Ibom
Economic and social activities in Akwa Ibom State came to a standstill yesterday as the NLC commenced a two-day warming strike.
The Idongesit Nkanga State Secretariat Complex, the Dakkada Secretariat Annex and the Federal Secretariat Complex all in Uyo, the state capital and other government offices were locked.
However, skeletal services were carried out by key offices in Government House while commercial banks were closed except for their ATM outlets.
The State Chairman of NLC, Sunny James, said the industrial action in the state was, “successful” adding that the body has mobilised all the units to observe the strike.
The chairman called on all NLC members to ensure strict compliance with the directive of the national body and the public to cooperate with NLC to finding lasing solutions to the economic hardship facing Nigerians based on the fuel subsidy removal.
Partial Compliance in Kaduna
There was partial compliance with the NLC warning strike in Kaduna yesterday. State and federal government offices in the state were deserted as workers stayed away from work.
Commercial banks along Yakubu Gowon Way, within the metropolis were closed.
Public schools were also closed. However, private however opened for normal activities.
Kaduna State Chairman of the NLC, Ayuba Magaji, said the warning strike was a warning signal to the government that things were not well with Nigerian workers.
“Nigerian workers and the masses are suffering. That economic conditions are harsh. Many people are living in hunger and abject poverty. They cannot meet their basic needs.
“The standard of living is very high and our income cannot take care of the demands of our families”, the NLC chairman said in an interview.
He said the warning strike, “is to tell the government that we are not happy. Our salaries can no longer take us to the next bust stop, talkless of taking us home and we need an urgent solution.”
He called for urgent solution to the problems facing Nigerians, stressing the palliatives being distributed were welcome but not a permanent solution.
In Kwara, Workers Shun NLC’s Directive
Workers in the Kwara State public service yesterday shunned the strike action directed by the leadership of the NLC. Also yesterday, some commercial banks opened their gates to customers in Ilorin earlier, but later shut their gates and drove back customers in compliance with the NLC’s directive. Commercial vehicles including taxi cabs, tricycles and motorcycles were plying the roads on Tuesday without being part of the strike.
However, a visit by THISDAY to state secretariat located along Ahmadu Bello Way showed that, the workers were at their various duty posts.
State Chairman of NLC, Saheed Olayinka, was not on hand to comment on the strike as he did not pick all the calls put across to him.
Chairman of of National Union of Agriculture and Allied Employees, David Ehindero, described the strike as a success.
In Bayelsa, Low Compliance Recorded
Members of the Bayelsa State Council of the NLC yesterday, joined their colleagues across the country to observe the warning strike called by their national body. The Chairman, NLC, Bayelsa State, Simon Barnabas, confirmed that its members complied with the directive of the national body.
Barnabas said: “We joined the warning strike. I am monitoring it with my team to ensure total compliance. It is a warning strike. We embarked the strike ahead of a total action at the expiration of the 21-day ultimatum we have given the federal government.
“We are on the two-day warning strike to agitate for the federal government to ensure that the nation’s refineries are made to work and to press for other conditions of services that will help to ameliorate our sufferings of the people including workers occasioned by the removal of fuel subsidy and other very urgent needs.”
However, warning strike was greeted with apathy as it recorded low compliance as scores of civil servants turned up for work claiming ignorant of an industrial action.
In some government establishments, some workers who were not sure of a strike action were notice in groups discussing the matter, while others said they were waiting for a directive from their bosses.
It was noticed that though most banks did not officially open for services, they offered skeletal services through the back doors.
Some security guards were seen opening the back doors for customers to go and transact their businesses in the banking halls.
It was also observed that schools were in full session just as government offices experienced beehive of normal activities.
Unlike the previous strikes, many residents and indigenes of the state capital, Yenagoa, appeared not to know if there was any strike.
Government Activities Paralysed in Osun
In Osun State, activities in various government agencies were grounded.
THISDAY observed that the entrance gate of the Transmission Company of Nigeria, (TCN) was shut and workers were denied access into the premises.
Similarly, secretariat of local government areas in the state were deserted as few workers seen were only hanging around the premises in numbers.
Addressing Journalists at the TCN entrance, Vice President, West, National Union of Electricity Employee, Sodiq Adewale, said the union complied totally with the strike directive.
“We are part of the strike and we are critical stakeholders as far as NLC is concerned. Presently, in compliance with the NLC directive, we are mandated to embark on a warning strike which started today and will continue tomorrow.
“As you can see, the whole place is under lock. Nobody is coming in and as time goes on, we are going to be reviewing our activities at the level of our actions. So far from our end, we have a total compliance,” he added.
However, some workers were seen at the State Government Secretariat, Osogbo in various offices, but the NLC Caretaker Chairman, Modupe Oyedele said those workers were members of the TUC.
In Niger, Union Cut Off Electricity Supply, Secretariat Gates Closed
Electricity Supply to most homes and businesses in Niger State was disrupted as a result of the NLC warning strike.
Also, gates to the State Secretariat complex and other government offices in Minns were shut making it impossible for workers to go in. Some top civil servants who arrived the Secretariat early were chased out of the complex by the NLC monitoring team who later locked the gates.
However, commercial banks in Minna opened for business just like the markets and departmental stores. Only very few vehicles were on the roads though petrol stations were all opened to customers.
The State Chairman of the NLC, Mr. Idris Lafene, told THISDAY that, “We are satisfied with the level of compliance, so far so good.”
Lafene said the Congress would report the five banks that refused to comply with the directive to the national leadership of the Congress.
In Delta, Abysmal Compliance Recorded
There was abysmal compliance, yesterday with the warning strike action embarked upon by the NLC in Delta State.
Although some workers stayed away, others were seen milling around the federal and state secretariats Asaba discussing in clusters.
One of the workers, who spoke to newsmen on condition of anonymity, expressed disgust with what he described as poor coordination of the strike action in the state.
Whereas the workers were denied access to the secretariats in compliance with the NLC directive, some banks, though locked up their gates, attended to their customers through the back door.
In Warri axis, scores of workers were prevented from entering the port premises at the Nigerian Ports Authority, Warri by officials of the NLC. The NLC Officials were clad in white polo shirts and white face caps. There was no placards or overt demonstrations, even though there was palpable anxiety.
However, Chairman of Delta chapter of NLC, Goodluck Ofobruku, said the compliance was high noting that, “you must not forget that we have NLC and TUC. NLC is controlling 90 per cent of the Unions and TUC, 10 per cent.
“The 90 per cent of the unions that are under the NLC have shutdown. Maybe only the fee people around government offices are TUC people”, he said.
In Anambra, Streets, Govt Offices Deserted
Streets in Awka, the capital city of Anambra State and other major cities in the state were yesterday deserted over the two days warning strike declared by the NLC. Also, many government offices were devoid of workers, as places like the state and federal secretariat looked scanty.
The NLC leaders, led by the State Chairman, Humphrey Emeka Nwafor, led a team of members to on enforcement, while visiting some Ministries and agencies.
Addressing journalists shortly after the exercise at Teacher’s House Awka, yesterday, the NLC State Chairman said they were joining their counterparts across the country to compel the federal government to address the plight of workers and the citizenry at large.
“As workers, we are badly affected by the economic crisis visited on Nigerians as a result of the hike in the pump price of petrol, all in the name of subsidy removal.
“We had earlier written to the federal government to adjust our wages automatically in line with the existing economic realities but that has fallen on deaf hears,” he added.
Strike Paralyses Business Activities in Rivers
Business activities were partially paralysed in parts of Rivers State yesterday due to the NLC two-day warning strike.
Court premises, some Banks, filling stations, federal agencies and other commercial institutions in the state capital and its environs were shut down in compliance with the warning strike.
However, a staff of one of the state-owned media organisations, who pleaded anonymity noted that Rivers witnessed about 50 percent compliance.
“On the level of compliance, I can tell you that Rivers State recorded over 50 percent compliance. If the state chapter of NLC had also issued its directive like the national body to its affiliate bodies, I am not sure you could have seen anybody around the secretariat and some other strategic places”.
In his reaction to the action, the south-south zonal chairman of the Civil Liberty Organisation (CLO), Karl Chinedu said the rights group was not convinced with the position of the NLC to embark on the warning strike.
Chinedu said Nigerians were fully aware that the President Bola Tinubu government was “anti-masses,” wondering why NLC should always keep talking about the welfare of only workers when millions of Nigerians were dying of poverty occasioned by the hardship resulting from the policies of this government.
He said the strike should focus on forcing government to fix the four refineries which had been grounded over the years thereby causing Nigerians untold hardship.
NLC Strike Was Avoidable, Says CSJ
The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) has said the industrial action embarked upon by the NLC could have been prevented with sincere government action after the removal of fuel subsidy and floating of the naira.
In a statement issued yesterday, the CSJ acknowledged the significance of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s policy reforms, particularly the removal of fuel subsidy and the floating of the naira, however highlighting Tinubu’s lack of proactivity in devising measures to ameliorate the attendant hardship arising from these policy pronouncements.
According to the Lead Director of CSJ, Eze Onyekpere, “President Bola Ahmed Tinubu missed the tidal waves of support in favour of his two main policy reforms – the fuel subsidy removal and the floatation of the Naira – by not taking proactive measures to arrest the hardships resulting from the reforms.
“The expectation was that President Tinubu would announce the cushioning interventions alongside the reform policies, and such interventions were not to be futuristic but to kick in before or immediately with the reform pronouncements. Regrettably, this has not been the case.
“For example, the proposed increase in workers’ salaries, which has been pending for three months now, remains unresolved in a country where the minimum wage is thirty thousand naira ($39.04) per month. This starkly contrasts with fellow African nations such as Algeria, South Africa, and Morocco, where the minimum wage is $170, $242, and $360, respectively.”