It is a very big concern and this one could set Nigeria back by at least five years. How do we get Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) to reconsider the imminent strikes? Yes, barring any rapprochement, Labour plans to begin a nationwide strike on Monday to protest against Federal Government ordered hike in prices of petrol and electricity tariffs. The TUC had noted that it would join the protest. To make this more challenging, NLC does not want to meet to negotiate more (of course, it has been doing that for ages with no results).
Nigerian labor and trade organizations have been mobilizing its members and the entire labor and trade ecosystem in Nigeria, for a nationwide strike action aimed at forcing the federal government to reverse the recently increased petroleum pump price and electricity tariff.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), on Tuesday announced the decision of its Central Working Committee (CWC), to commence a nationwide indefinite strike and mass protest from September 28, after it was approved by its National Executive Council (NEC).
First, I support NLC because if you look at data, Nigerian workers are getting poorer seasonally due to rising inflation, currency deterioration, etc, which are worsening faster than pay increments. Yet, the root causes of these paralyses are what Labour is protesting against. If we remove fuel subsidy (killing the institutionalized corruption along), Labour will benefit. More so, if we get electricity to the point where pricing is at parity and evidently reflective, investors will come to fix our electricity supply industry.
Indeed, we need to get Labour to understand that the government’s call on prices of petrol and electricity is necessary to structurally improve Nigeria. We have been trying subsidies on electricity and petrol since 1960, with nothing to show. Labour needs to allow this new experiment for at least two years.
Notwithstanding, President Buhari needs to improve his gameplan. He needs to learn that Nigeria is not a military barrack. Though he never likes to speak to the media, he could have carried these men and women along, and provided them opportunities to communicate to their constituencies. He likes to create artificial crises when there should be none. Consultation and collaboration would have managed this tension. His government will not recover if these strikes go ahead as the nation is already struggling across many domains.
But the issue now is how to get Labour to abandon this strike. What should Nigeria do now since the option of reversing these tariffs makes no sense?
Prof from the labour position, they are not against the deregulation and price hike but what do govt have on the table to cushion the hardship? Is there a plan to make refineries work to reduce or stop importation of fuel? Has Govt cut down on the cost of governance? Govt didn’t do the needful.
My Response: Absolutely – that is where I blamed Buhari for his style of not getting people together on a table to talk. He may have some ideas but he never communicates. Without that communication, you create a vacuum. I still think we need weekly briefing in Aso Rock