Ayuba Wabba, the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) seems to be the most important person in Nigeria now. Did you see the promises from the National Assembly? Did you see how the governors are panicking? Even the presidency is confused. Yet, it is a tough call. I admire Labour but it has yet to choose the most important fight: demanding free and fair elections by shutting down Nigeria after the circus called federal elections.
If they begin to do that, seasonal strikes may not be necessary. In engineering, we have what we call root cause analysis – ‘a systematic process for identifying “root causes” of problems or events and an approach for responding to them’. Yes, the bottom of all paralyses in Nigeria is how we choose our leaders, and Labour has not found a call to demand electoral improvements at scale!
In the next coming hours, Mr Wabba will get a document with some signatures. In three months, Labour will issue a warning press release: those agreements have not been implemented, and we plan to begin a strike soon. The last I checked, university teachers are still protesting over agreements signed with Obasanjo Administration, a government which ended in 2007. Politicians are smart – they keep shifting the goalposts, knowing that they would be gone when you wake up.
Labour, demand for real reforms on electoral systems, and you will get better outcomes! Of course, I support Labour any day even though I do not support this particular proposed strike. Fixing the root cause of Nigeria’s problem – electoral mess – is the missing strike in Labour’s calendar of strikes. It has to make it a priority!
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.
Labour needs to strike for real electoral reforms, and many Nigerians will join them. They do not need to strike for any particular election to avoid tarnishing their non-partisan and neutrality philosophy. They just need to push for reforms because all the problems in Labour today are tied to the quality of our political leadership. If Nigeria can attract its best in politics, Labour will not have to be speaking via strikes.