…FG plans talks Monday
State chapters and affiliate unions of the Nigeria Labour Congress are already gearing up for a possible declaration of a nationwide strike following the expiration of a 21-day ultimatum given the Federal Government to provide palliatives to cushion the pains associated with the recent fuel subsidy removal.
The organised labour had earlier embarked on a two-day warning strike to press home its demands.
After the warning strike, the NLC gave the government a 21-day ultimatum within which to meet its demands.
With the expiration of the ultimatum on Friday, the NLC has scheduled an emergency meeting of its National Executive Council for Tuesday at noon.
The council’s next line of action is expected to be decided at the virtual meeting.
In a notice of the meeting dated September 22, 2023, the congress’ General Secretary, Emmanuel Ugboaja, told the Presidents, General Secretaries and Treasurers of its affiliates that “Your attendance (at the meeting) will be of utmost importance.”
Ahead of the meeting, however, state chapters of the NLC said they were ready to mobilise full participation if the NEC declared a strike on Tuesday.
This is just as part of its last-minute moves to prevent a strike, the Federal Government may meet with labour leaders again this week.
“Yes, the government delegation will meet with them maybe on Monday. The idea is to ensure that we prevent the strike. The nation cannot afford a shutdown of its economy at this time,” a government source said.
Another government source said that the FG will continue to appeal for understanding from the labour leaders.
“The government has just increased the salaries of junior lecturers by 23.5 per cent. There is the need for an understanding,” the source said.
When contacted, the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, said, “I am not yet back, I am airborne now to London. No update yet.”
The Ekiti State Chairman of the NLC, Kolapo Olatunde, told one of our correspondents that workers in the state would participate fully if the NEC resolved to declare a strike.
Olatunde said “NLC NEC’s decision supersedes any other decision. If the decision up there in NEC is that we should go on strike, we have no option.
“We will also come down and decide the State Executive Council level, but the decision of the NEC supersedes any other decision.
“If the NEC says we are going on strike, everybody will go on strike, that is the implication.”
The situation is the same in Gombe State where the state Secretary of NLC, Ibrahim Fika, said the chapter would comply fully with the industrial action should the NEC order such.
Fika said, “We will comply 100 per cent by God’s grace. There is no doubt about that.
“It’s after the Tuesday meeting that we will know when to proceed, and whether the people will be given time to prepare but Gombe NLC is fully ready 100 per cent.”
A similar scenario is playing out in Sokoto State where the state chapter said it would join the strike whenever the national headquarters decides.
The state chairman, Abdullahi Jungle, confirmed this while speaking with one of our correspondents.
He said, “We are waiting for the decision of the national headquarters. Once a decision is taken on the strike, we will join.”
Also in Plateau State, members of the NLC vowed to comply if the union decides to go strike.
The state chairman, Eugene Manji, said, “We are a democratic union. Our NEC meeting scheduled for Tuesday is going to be via Zoom. So, if the majority decides that the union is going on strike, workers in Plateau State cannot disobey the decision of NEC but will comply.”
The matter is not different in Benue State where the chairman, Terungwa Igbe, said the chapter would comply with any directive from the national secretariat.
“If it’s a national directive to go on strike, we will surely join,” he said.
Kano State is not different as the state chapter expressed its readiness to comply with any directive from the national headquarters.
The state chairman, Kabiru Inuwa, said, “The NEC may decide to go on strike and may decide not to go. But whatever decision is taken, the Kano State chapter will abide by it.
“So, we have to wait and see what will be the outcome of the meeting.”
The Niger State chapter also said it was ready to comply with any directive from the national leadership of the NLC.
The state chairman, Idrees Lafena, said, “We don’t have an option than to comply with the directive of our parent body. The Federal Government has been given enough time to rethink and retrace its steps but it is adamant. It is not finding a lasting solution and does not want to do the needful.
“The two-day warning strike which was hugely successful in Niger State and Nigeria at large was an opportunity for the Bola Tinubu administration to do serious thinking and retrace his steps. Nigerian workers can no longer bear the hardship when there is no termination point for the hardship. We don’t have an option.
“We will ensure that the Federal Government is compelled to do the right thing. Niger State will be shut down by the strike once we get the directive from our national leaders.”
The Zamfara State chapter of the NLC also said it was ready to embark on a strike action if the national body of the union gave a directive to that effect.
The state chairman, Sani Halliru, said, “We in Zamfara State are only waiting for the directive and I am assuring you that, as soon as we receive it, we will join the strike.
“We will shut down the state as soon as we are given the go-ahead to embark on strike action.
“I was part of the meeting and I came back on Friday. So, I see no reason why I should not join the strike if I receive a directive from the national body of our great union.”
Workers in Yobe State have also expressed readiness to embark on strike if the national headquarters of the NLC calls for the action after its Tuesday meeting.
“We are ever ready to participate in the strike if the national body of NLC directs all states to do so.
“We will join the strike because all the issues at stake concern every worker in Nigeria, including you, journalists. We will comply with whatever decision is taken at the Tuesday meeting,” the state chairman of NLC, Mukhtar Tarbutu, told Sunday PUNCH.
The Rivers State chairman, Alex Agwanwor, said the state chapter would comply fully with the national directive in the event of a declaration of strike.
When our correspondent asked Agwanwor if the state chapter would comply fully if a strike was declared, he simply replied, “Yes.”
The Bayelsa State chapter said it would mobilise its members to participate in any strike action declared by the national leadership of the body.
The state chairman, Simon Barnabas, said, “NLC anywhere is NLC, so we will not do anything different. That’s how other state councils will be part of the event.
“The strike is not targeted at the state government but the Federal Government. What we are doing is to attract the attention of President Bola Tinubu and the need for something to be done to get us out of this untold hardship meted out to us as a result of fuel subsidy removal.
“The only thing we see that he can do now is he can revamp our refineries to functional status so that the Naira will have value. Otherwise the one-one naira they think they want to give to people will not go anywhere.”
Akwa Ibom State chairman of the NLC, Sunny James, said there was no way the chapter would shun the strike.
“There’s going to be an official meeting to determine that but if there is going to be a strike, there is no way we will not join. Are we not the state council of NLC?” he asked.
The Adamawa State chairman of NLC, Emmanuel Fashe, said, “If we are not comfortable with the system, we should give support to labour leaders so that whatever that is being decided, we as Nigerians will comply and give them all the necessary support.
“You can see people suffering but when you call them out to join forces, to demonstrate and cry out to the government, they will shy away from it. This unfortunately is the Nigerian reality for you as we speak today.
“Things are hard but even for people within the community to organise themselves to come out and cry against the repressive economic policies of government is very hard. Labour leaders don’t have separate markets, we all go to the same market and it is the support of the public that we require to be successful in our agitations for a responsive system.”
The Kaduna NLC chairman, Ayuba Suleiman, said, “We are not outside the NLC. We shall be part of the NEC and every decision taken is binding on all state councils.”
The NLC in Abia State said its members would join the strike.
The state chairman, Pascal Nweke, said, “We are under them. If they decide to go on strike after Tuesday’s NEC meeting, the Abia State chapter will join them.”
The Kebbi State chairman, Murtala Usman, said, “I am sure that no state chapter of NLC will refuse to join the strike if the decision is reached by the national headquarters of the union.
“We are the ones that called for the meeting and by the time NEC briefs us on the outcome, the decision will be taken and we shall abide by it.”
The Taraba State Chairman, Peter Jediel, said, “Yes, we are ready to join the strike but we are waiting for an official communication.
“I just returned from a meeting of the union where the issue of the strike was discussed and we are willing to comply with the directive if the national union sends us a notice of strike.
“We are expecting that notice between tomorrow (Sunday) and Monday and we will fully comply.”
However, the Oyo State chapter said it would not pre-empt the outcome of the Tuesday meeting.
The state Chairman, Kayode Martins, said, “We have not heard from the national secretariat of the NLC so we can’t pre-empt them. Let’s see the outcome of the NEC meeting, then we will call our state meeting as well.”
The Ondo State secretary of the NLC, Akin Sunday, said, “ I cannot say anything much about the strike because my chairman is preparing to go to Abuja for the NEC meeting. The decision of the NEC at the meeting would determine what would happen next.”
The Katsina State Chairman of the NLC, Hussaini Hamisu, said, “We should not jump the gun. The NEC of the union is meeting on Tuesday. We would rather wait for its decision on the strike. Let us await the decision of the NEC. “
The Chairman of the NLC in Lagos State, FunmI Sessi, in a telephone interview with our correspondent, also said the outcome of the meeting scheduled for Tuesday will determine if the congress in the state will join the strike.
“They have called us for a meeting scheduled for Tuesday, so it’s on that day that we will know our stance. Let us leave everything till that Tuesday. We will know the outcome then,” she said.
The Edo State chairman of the NLC, Odion Olaye, said he was yet to receive a directive on the matter.
“I am yet to receive any directive concerning the strike action,” he said
The Delta State chairman of the NLC, Goodluck Ofobruku, also said the council would comply with the decision of the NEC.
“Yes, but there’s a NEC meeting on Thursday where a decision will be taken,” he said.