…Kano govt suspends school exams, Deltans boycott work, Roads shut, over strike
By Abiodun OBA
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Nigerian Railway Workers and the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) have directed their members to join the nationwide strike called by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC).
This is as the NLC and the TUC ignored court order to begin nationwide strike over assault on Ajaero.
The strike, scheduled to begin at midnight on Monday, November 13, 2023, is to protest the physical assault of the NLC President, Joe Ajaero, and some executives of the Congress in Owerri, Imo State, on November 1, as well as the pending labour issues in Imo.
Ajaero was arrested by the police ahead of a statewide protest in Imo. Although the police denied arresting Ajaero, stating that he was merely taken into protective custody to prevent a mob attack, the Imo State governor, Hope Uzodimma, accused the labour leader of meddling in the political affairs of the state.
ASUU President Emmanuel Osodeke made the announcement in a statement, arguing that the strike is necessary to “protect the interests of Nigerian workers and the leadership of the union.”
“Zonal Coordinators and Branch Chairpersons should immediately mobilise our members to participate in the action,” Osodeke added.
This is just as the Nigerian Railway Workers and the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) have mobilised to join the strike Tuesday.
In a statement by NRWU Secretary-General, Segun Esan, directed to the Managing Director, Nigerian Railway Corporation, said members are duty-bound to join the nationwide strike by staying back at home and away from their offices. He urged the NRC management and its security apparatus to secure and protect all fixed and movable assets of the Corporation while the strike lasts.
The federal government has condemned the two labour unions’ planned nationwide strike, calling it an “unwarranted attempt to blackmail the government.”
The Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, in a statement, expressed the government’s disappointment with the unions’ decision to punish the entire country of over 200 million people over a matter involving the NLC president.
FG also noted that the national economy and social activities should not suffer because of the personal interests of any labour leader, adding that the strike action is illegal, immoral, unjustifiable and irresponsible.
However, the NLC and the TUC have ordered workers and their affiliates to withdraw their services nationwide from today.
Ignoring a subsisting court pronouncement stopping the action, TUC President, Festus Osifo, while addressing journalists in Abuja yesterday, said the strike would remain until “government at all levels wake up to their responsibility.”
Listing their demands, Osifo said: “We demanded that the Area Commander that led the police to carry out the brutalisation be relieved of his duties and prosecuted. We also asked that Governor Uzodimma’s aide on Special Duties, Chinasa Nwaneri, who led the touts should be arrested and prosecuted.
“We gave an ultimatum that initially expired Wednesday last week, but on the eve of that expiration, we had a joint session of the NLC and TUC and gave an additional one week to see if the government will be responsive. But instead of the government coming out strongly to condemn this criminality and stand on the side of justice, some people in government were running their mouths and making all kinds of statements.”
However, Director-General of the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), Adewale-Smatt Oyerinde, has urged organised labour to respect the National Industrial Court (NIC) pronouncement stopping the unions from embarking on a nationwide strike.
Speaking, Oyerinde said: “Any member of the labour movement that is not satisfied with the NIC order should approach the court to plead their case. It can happen to any of us, we can be employer/employee today, labour or government tomorrow and NIC has shown a very strong level of impartiality over the years.”
Meanwhile, Kano State Ministry of Education has suspended secondary school qualifying examinations in the state due to the strike action.
Recall, the NLC and TUC commenced strike action on Tuesday at midnight across the country.
The examinations were scheduled for Tuesday, November 14, 2023, but have now been postponed indefinitely.
The statement signed by the Director, Public Enlightenment of the Ministry, Balarabe Abdullahi Kiru, partly reads, “the State Ministry of Education, has suspended 2023 Secondary Schools Qualifying Examination (SSQE) scheduled to take place today, Tuesday, November 14, 2023, till further notice.”
Kiru, appealed to students and parents/guardians to bear with any inconvenience the suspension may have caused.
Similarly, in Delta State, banks, hospitals, and other public places in the state were affected by the strike.
Delta people boycotted work following the industrial action by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC).
The Federal and State Secretariats along Okpanam Road and Maryam Babangida Way, respectively, were shut down as early as 8 a.m. with the gates padlocked by union members to enforce the strike action.
Academic activities in secondary schools in Asaba metropolis were also disrupted as students were turned back.
Although commercial banks admitted customers, their gates were locked.
Motorists and residents groan as petrol sells for N630 and N635 in Delta.
Activities at the Delta State Government House also witnessed disruption as workers failed to turn up at their duty posts.