Port Harcourt-based comedian, David Sikpa, has condemned moves by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to embark on nationwide industrial action following the scarcity of naira notes.
The comedian, in a statement in Port Harcourt, on Sunday, described the moves by the President of NLC, Joe Ajaero, as provocative, counter productive and self-serving.
He said the strike would increase the ongoing economic hardship in the country and advised NLC to have a rethink.
According to him, the industrial action was no longer necessary since the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, had taken steps to make the naira notes available.
In the words of the comedian: “It is unfortunate that the NLC intends to embark on this strike when the Governor of the Apex Bank, Godwin Emefiele has tendered unreserved apology to Nigerians and has further given directives to deposit money banks to implement order of the Supreme Court.
“Where was NLC when ASUU was on eight-month strike and Nigerian students were helpless? Where was NLC when Nigerians were kidnapped and killed randomly by bandits among other insecurity challenges? Where was NLC over hike in foodstuffs ,growing inflation among other economic challenges?”
TheNewsGuru.com (TNG) reports that NLC is an umbrella organization for trade unions in Nigeria.
History of NLC
The Nigerian Labour Congress was founded in December 1978, as a merger of four different organisations: the Nigeria Trade Union Congress (NTUC), Labour Unity Front (LUF), United Labour Congress (ULC) and Nigeria Workers’ Council (NWC).
However, the recently-established Federal Military Government, led by Murtala Mohammed, refused to recognise the new organisation, and instead set up the Adebiyi Tribunal to investigate the activities of trade unions and their leaders. The Tribunal reported in 1976 and claimed that all the existing trade union centres propagated Cold War ideologies, depended on funding from international union federations, and mismanaged funds.
This was used as a justification to ban all four centres, with M. O. Abiodun appointed as the administrator of trade unions. He accepted the establishment of a new Nigeria Labour Congress, on the condition that the approximately 1,500 affiliated unions were restructured into 42 industrial unions, plus 19 unions representing senior staff.
In 1978, the Nigeria Labour Congress was established, with the 42 industrial unions affiliated. It was to be the only legal trade union federation.
Its leadership included many of the leading figures from its four predecessors, with Wahab Goodluck becoming its founding president.
During its history, conflicts with the military regime twice led to the dissolution of the NLC’s national organs, the first in 1988 under the military regime of General Ibrahim Babangida and the second in 1994, under the regime of General Sani Abacha.
In 1996, the 42 affiliates of the NLC were merged into 29, by Act of Parliament. Under Nigeria’s military governments, labour leaders were frequently arrested and union meetings disrupted. Following democratic reforms in the country, some of the anti-union regulations were abolished in January 1999. The same month Adams Oshiomhole was elected President of the reformed organisation.
In the early 2000s, conflict between the government and the NLC escalated due to the organisation’s opposition to higher fuel prices. The price increases are the result of decisions by the Olusegun Obasanjo government to dramatically reduce subsidies and to deregulate the purchase and sale of fuel.
The NLC has led several general strikes protesting the government’s fuel price policy.