By Ahmed Ajikobi
There was drama in Ilorin on Tuesday as Union leaders reportedly chased students away from schools to enforce the nationwide strike which entered the second day today.
Following the declaration of Nationwide strike by the national leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC)and Trade Union Congress (TUC) which started on Tuesday, the Chairman of the Kwara State chapter of the NLC, Comrade Saheed Murtala Olayinka and his TUC counterpart, Joseph Tunde, had directed workers in the state to sit at home in compliance with directives from the national bodies.
And in response, some ministries in the state reportedly shut down activities.
Members of the Nigeria Union of Agriculture and Allied Employees (NUAAE) and their counterparts at the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) in kwara state also joined the strike. They reportedly picketed their various organizations as directed by the national labour movement and to also drive home their age long demands for better working conditions.
According to the kwara state labour chairman, the strike is total in the state. “Workers have been directed to sit at home. Our monitoring would be strategic because we don’t want any of the union leaders to be arrested by the authorities.”
The state TUC chairman, on his part ,said, they are not going to shut down the roads because this is a strike and not a protest. “As is it is now, we have received a signal from the National headquarters. If you have gone round, you will see the level of compliance. We have asked workers to stay away from their offices.
“ We are still monitoring, and we are going to do that in total compliance with the directive from National. People can move around. We are not going to shut the roads but the offices. We are not for protest. Major offices have been shutdown, NEPA office, Civil service commission, in all MDAs we have representatives and we have given them the directive to shut down their offices”, he said.
Tunde stated further that the union leaders are not happy with the strike, but that is the only option they have.
“What we are saying is that Nigeria is suffering. If that is the case, why can’t Government ask what the problem is. There is nothing wrong for the Government to organize a meeting with NLC every three months to look at the issue together holistically and find a way forward.
“I commend the labour leaders and partially commend Government on the little one they have done, but they have to do more. Minister of labour needs to wake up and do more. Labour will write a letter, the government will wait. Labour will give them an ultimatum they will also wait until that ultimatum is expired.
“Once you receive a letter, you start working on it. The government should call the labour for a meeting and sit-down to work it out. We are all Nigerian. It is not easy for us to go on strike, but we have to do it. We want people to listen to us.
“Look at the dollar rate today, a bag of semovita of N2500 now N10,000. Can you imagine that. We want to advise the government to do more, to be more committed to the system. I sympathize with Nigeria workers, let us have faith and the trust in our country.
“To the masses, it is not that we wish to strike. It is the suffering of the workers that dictated our action. Once we are demanding action from the government, please always support us.”