By Elohor Igbru, Abuja
It is finally here, the promised strike by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) has grounded social and economic activities around the country.
The strike, called in response to the beating of NLC president, Joe Ajaero while on a visit to Imo State has seen banks and other financial institutions shir, workers have also barricaded both sides of the major road leading to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja, grounding activities.
Fuel stations have also shut down, resulting in long queues in stations across the federal capital Abuja.
In a series of tweets on Tuesday, the NLC denied the strike was political saying ” what’s political about workers demanding their rights.”
It’s a blackmail, illegal- Presidency
But the presidency has come out guns blazing , accusing the NLC of blackmail and going against a court ruling which ruled against the strike.
Special Adviser to the President on Communication and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga made this known in a statement released in Abuja.
The statement reads: “We notice with dismay the decision by the Nigerian Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress to call out workers to commence a strike action from midnight, despite a restraining order issued last week by Justice Benedict Backwash Kanyip of the National Industrial Court.
“This decision by the NLC and TUC other than being an ego tripping move is clearly unwarranted. It is an attempt to blackmail the government by the leadership of the NLC.
“We are still at a loss as to why the NLC and TUC decided to punish a whole country of over 200 million people over a personal matter involving the NLC President, Mr. Joe Ajaero, whose error of judgement led to assault on him in Owerri while he was planning to incite the workers in Imo State into a needless strike.
“While the Federal Government does not condone any form of violence and assault on any citizen of Nigeria regardless of his or her social and economic status, it is on record that the Inspector General of Police has ordered investigation into what happened to Mr. Ajaero while the Commissioner of Police in Imo State under whose watch the incident happened has been transferred out of the state.
Calling out workers on a national strike over a personal issue of a labour leader despite a clear court order against any industrial action amounts to an abuse of privilege. Power at any level should never be used to settle personal scores. Rather, it should be used to promote collective progress and advance national interest.
“Our national economy and social activities should not suffer because of the personal interest of any labour leader.
“This flagrant disobedience to court order and lack of respect for the judiciary should not be what the organised Labour would champion.
“The labour movement has always been a champion of rule of law and respect for the judiciary. It is a sad irony that the current labour leaders have shown see and utter disregard for court order.
We reiterate that this strike action is illegal, immoral, unjustifiable and irresponsible. What the strike notice issued Monday night after official hours suggests is it’s designed for a sinister and hidden agenda to cause undue hardship and cause civil disturbance in our country. This is unacceptable.”