The presidency has rejected the nationwide strike by the organised labour as a result of the police assault on Joe Ajaero, the president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).
The organised labour comprising NLC and Trade Union Congress (TUC), had directed all affiliate unions of the two labour centres to implement the resolutions of the joint National Executive Council of TUC and NLC from midnight of Tuesday, November 14, 2023.
President of TUC, Festus Osifo, who addressed reporters at Labour House earlier in the day, said the strike would remain until “governments at all levels wake up to their responsibility.”
But in a statement on Monday night, Bayo Onanuga, Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, described the decision as an attempt to blackmail the government.
He noted that the NLC and TUC should not “punish a whole country of over 200million people over a personal matter involving the NLC President, Mr. Joe Ajaero, whose error of judgment led to assault on him in Owerri while he was planning to incite the workers in Imo State into a needless strike.”
Onanuga said, “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 200million people over a personal matter involving the NLC President, Mr. Joe Ajaero, whose error of judgment 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.”
“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,” the statement read in part.