Northern Nigerian Breaking News

EDITORIAL: What next for Nigerians as NLC becomes a toothless bulldog amid economic hardship?

On February 16, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) declared a two-day nationwide mass protest to be held on February 27 and 28 over the economic hardship being faced by Nigerians.

This was after the Labour Union and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) gave a 14-day ultimatum to the federal government over the rising cost of living in the country.

Perhaps the federal government is aware that the union under the leadership of Joe Ajaero is a toothless dog, they did nothing to ensure that the demands of the union are met. In fact, many Nigerians were not bothered because they have long been betrayed by the NLC.

They took to social media, particularly X (formerly Twitter) to complain about how NLC often plans for strike but afterwards negotiates with the government. 

Probably bearing the criticism of Nigerians in mind, NLC decided to proceed with its planned protest for Tuesday, February 27 and the protesters marched in the Labour House in Abuja and the Ikeja under-bridge in Lagos, while chanting solidarity songs and slogans.

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The same massive turnout was recorded in Kano, Enugu, Ibadan, Osogbo, and many other parts of the country. “It was a success,” many Nigerians said as they prepared for the next day’s rally. 

READ ALSO: JUST IN: FG, NLC meeting ends in deadlock as labour insists on planned protest

But guess what? NLC issued a Tuesday evening, announcing the cancellation of the following day’s protest. The NLC said the objectives of the protest were achieved on the first day of the demonstration.

“Consequently, NEC-in-session resolved as follows: to suspend street action for the second day of the Protest having achieved overwhelming success thus attaining the key objectives of the 2-day protest on the first day,” the communique reads. “However, Nationwide action continues tomorrow with simultaneous Press Conferences across all the states of the federation by the state Councils of the Congress including the National Headquarters.”

“The NLC NEC also resolved in its meeting, to “reaffirm and extend the 7-day ultimatum by another 7 days which now expires on the 13th day of March, 2024 within which the Government is expected to implement all the earlier agreement of the 2nd day of October, 2023 and other demands presented in our letter during today’s nationwide protest.

“To meet and decide on further lines of action if on the expiration of the 14 days, Government refuses to comply with the demands as contained in the ultimatum,” the union claimed. 

The disappointment was not the first from NLC leaders who have failed to wake up from their slumber. Even the minimum wage the NLC is fighting for has been a failure, making it difficult for them to protect the welfare and the conditions of workers and pensioners.

Many years ago, NLC was known to be the last hope common man as its confront authorities over draconian policies such as the implementation of minimum wage and fight against fuel increment. 

READ ALSO: UPDATED: NLC suspends nationwide protest, extends ultimatum to FG

But NLC has in the last six years performed below expectations and at many times stand as a mediator between government and its workers to settle strike in the room. In this time of inflation and economic hardship, NLC only barks when its suppose to bite. 

As of October 2023, no less than 15 states across the country are yet to implement the N30,000 minimum wage signed into law in 2019 yet pump prices continue to increase and cost of living is choking.  

“These NLC and TUC leaders were catching cruise with FG instead of negotiating Subsidy Removal palliative. They suspended the #NLCStrike without addressing the fundamental issues. How do they expect workers to commute to work?”, a Twitter user queried. 

When will NLC leaders stop issuing so many empty threats and promises? They excuse this emptiness of their threats as strategic patience. While Nigerians battle all forms of insecurity, labour leaders move around with police escorts as entourages, fly planes if they have to travel far distances, and also drive exotic jeeps fuelled from the checkoff dues from the minimum wage of poor workers. Unfortunately, workers trek to work or join the cheaper and crowded buses. 

If truly labour leaders can bite, they should prove Nigerians wrong.


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