The Challenge Ahead in Nigeria with Labour’s Planned Protest

The Challenge Ahead in Nigeria with Labour’s Planned Protest

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?

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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

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2 thoughts on “The Challenge Ahead in Nigeria with Labour’s Planned Protest

  1. The people of Nigeria need to organize town hall meetings across all local govts and televise it as a dialogue with labour and the govt to enforce a 2 year window to allow the federal govt to experiment this new strategy. Sacrifice has to be made. Govt has made sacrifice through subsidy. Let labour and the people make this sacrifice and allow this “new medicine” to work

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  2. The unionists are calling for strike for the wrong reasons, it’s either they are dishonest or misguided; if they really care about Nigeria, they know where to focus the strikes on. But they won’t do that, because they are not honest and courageous enough to fight for the real pain points, chief among them being cost of governance.

    If you protest for fuel price, what are saying in essence, government should keep borrowing money to fund fuel consumption? That can’t be a smart choice, and they know it. And if you protest for energy tariff, what is your stand: old tariff was sustainable or fighting for all consumers to be metered? The latter would be a good fight, but they won’t focus on that. When you think that politicians are unconscionable and ridiculous, the labour unions you think should fight for the masses are equally compromised and misguided; so it’s a double whammy everywhere.

    As for the federal government, this administration has perhaps the largest PR machine ever, yet they struggle to communicate. The president detests addressing Nigerians, speaking is not his calling, but sitting in Aso Rock happened to be his destiny. And when you hear from his spokespeople and foot soldiers, it’s either they are angry or abusive.

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