The Nigeria’s Federal Government has described the nationwide indefinite strike declared by organised labour as an attempt to backmail it and cause undue hardship by shutting down socioeconomic activities.
A statement by Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga claimed that the action was “designed for a sinister and hidden agenda to cause undue hardship and cause civil disturbance in our country.”
The statement said it is strange that labour is embarking on strike despite an order issued last week by Justice Benedict Backwash Kanyip of the National Industrial Court restraining them from such action.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) on Monday, declared an indefinite nationwide strike beginning from midnight of Monday, 13 November over the failure of the government to address the issue relating to an attack of the NLC President, Joe Ajero, during a peaceful protest in Owerri, Imo State capital on November 1.
The declaration was made after a joint meeting of the NLC and TUC National Executive Committee (NEC) on Monday. They have directed all workers across the Federation to withdraw their services beginning on Tuesday, 14 November.
Onanuga said the action of Labour unions is not in the national interest adding that it amounts to punishing the entire nation.
According to Onanuga what led to the NLC president’s attack was a personal issue that should not be escalated into a national issue, adding that the strike action is needless.
“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,” the statement read.
“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 judgment led to an assault on him in Owerri while he was planning to incite the workers in Imo State into a needless strike.”
He maintained that since the Inspector of General of Police had transferred out of the state, the Commissioner under whose watch the incident happened and promised to probe the matter, there was no need to go ahead with the industrial action.
“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,” Onanuga stated.
He admonished that the national Economy should not be subjected to distress because of labour actions.
He further argued that the strike action was illegal and accused the labour unions of “flagrant disobedience to court order and lack of respect for the judiciary” which they should not be known for.