The Nigeria Labour Congress has ruled out the possibility of embarking on strike action to compel the government to find urgent solutions to the dual crisis of naira and petrol scarcity.
It said going on strike when general elections were a couple of days away could present the union as insensitive, heat up the polity and cause problems. It said Nigerians should rather make use of their permanent voter cards to elect the leaders they believe could make their lives better.
Independent of the naira notes scarcity, the prolonged fuel scarcity, which begun last year, has subjected commuters, business owners and individuals to untold misery, with people spending hours in queues, while a litre of petrol sells for about N500 in some places as against the N185 control price.
But, reacting to the dual impact of the scarcity, the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, said, “We cannot go on strike on the eve of an election; we also cannot join retrogressive forces. We can use the power of the ballot and our PVCs to bring about a system that will make everybody happy. But if there is a call to go on strike on the eve of elections, I am not sure it is a better option.
“Things will not get better, people should be ready; we cannot change a system through lamentation. Lamentation has not changed any system. What will change the system is for the people to be wise, because this same issue we are talking about, either the fuel or the economy, has been around for the past 30 years.”
He said since the advent of democracy, promises were made but not fulfilled but that it was fruitless to dwell on that.
“Our suggestion is that all of us must work together to hold people in government at all levels accountable and this is important; from the president to the governors, National Assembly members and others,” he stated. “Everybody must be seen to be improving the system, not improving themselves.
“We cannot go on strike on the eve of the election. Have you ever seen that on the eve of elections, the NLC mobilised (people) to go on strike? So, if there is a problem now and the election did not hold, won’t you come back to say the same NLC made the election not to hold. Which is a better option? Is it to use your PVC to elect people who will change the narrative or we continue to lament?”
Civil servants stranded
The National President, Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, Tommy Etim, has lamented that some workers have been unable to go to work because they do not have cash for transportation.
In an interview with one of our correspondents on Thursday, Etim, who doubles as the Vice-President of the Trade Union Congress, noted that the only condition for the Central Bank of Nigeria’s February 10 deadline to stand was for there to be enough new notes in circulation.
He stated, “The policy is a good one but unfortunately, it is not working as planned. Now, it is not even politicians who are suffering, it is the poor masses. From the socio-economic outlook, the informal sector is bearing the brunt. A lot of workers don’t even have money to go to the office, how will productivity come to place? If there is no productivity, how will the economy grow? A civil servant cannot pay taxi N200 with bank transfer because drivers only believe in the cash they see with their hands.