In the wake of the nationwide strike, announced by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) scheduled for Wednesday, August 2, 2023, the air is filled with palpable tension. The impending action is a direct protest against the hardship caused by the controversial fuel subsidy removal initiated by the Federal Government. The labour union’s mobilization strategy, focusing on mass participation, represents a significant reaction to the Government’s fiscal policies.
The NLC, in an effort to galvanize support, is urging Nigerians to join them at the Unity Fountain, Abuja, at 7 am on the strike day. The union stressed the importance of government intervention in markets for the protection of citizens, in line with global practices. The NLC is also calling for an immediate focus on tackling the corruption linked to subsidies rather than exposing ordinary citizens to undue hardship.
Highlighting the urgent need for the revitalization of domestic refineries, the NLC is making it a focal point in its protest against subsidy removal. It is part of their key demands, as the union believes that a functioning local refinery system is essential for adequate domestic fuel consumption and reducing dependency on imported fuel.
In a critique of the recent monetary policies rolled out by the Bola Tinubu-led administration, the NLC expressed concern over the complete exposure of the national currency to market forces. It pointed out that such a move is not in line with the norms of a reasonable government.
Ahead of a meeting with the Federal Government, the NLC lamented the insensitivity of the administration, accusing it of playing games with the lives of Nigerians. Further compounding the issues are the union’s demands for a reversal of all policies deemed “anti-poor” and the release of withheld salaries of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, among others.
The NLC’s National Treasurer, Hakeem Ambali, expressed frustration over the government’s perceived lack of commitment to dialogue with labour leaders, citing the government’s absence at a meeting scheduled for Friday, July 28, 2023.
In what appears to be a display of unity amongst labour unions, other academic bodies, like the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) and the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), have also begun a nationwide mobilization of their members ahead of the strike.
There is also a show of solidarity from some northern youths under the Arewa Citizen Watch for Good Governance, who are gearing up to join the nationwide strike, expressing their discontent over the subsidy removal, which they believe has worsened their living conditions.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) has appealed to the NLC to reconsider the planned strike, citing potential threats to sustainable enterprises, job creation, and national development.
President Tinubu, however, has expressed that the government’s move to remove the fuel subsidy and the changes in the foreign exchange regime has been met with commendations from the global community. He believes these policy changes are yielding positive results and has pledged to provide relief and succor for affected citizens without delay.
As the planned strike day approaches, it remains to be seen how the Nigerian Government and the NLC will navigate these tumultuous waters to ensure the interests of ordinary Nigerians are protected while also maintaining fiscal stability.