In recent events, the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Joe Ajaero, faced a reprehensible attack in Imo State during his campaign for the Labour Party. In response, both the NLC and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) have called for a nationwide strike—an action that, while condemning the attack, raises critical questions about the proportionality and historical context of such drastic measures.
Undoubtedly, the assault on Mr. Ajaero deserves unequivocal condemnation, and those responsible must be held accountable under the full weight of the law. Yet, the decision to impose a nationwide strike affecting over 200 million people prompts scrutiny. Should an entire country be subjected to the consequences of a localized incident involving the NLC President? Could the strike not be confined to Imo State, where the assault transpired?
A pressing concern emerges regarding the sincerity of Ajaero’s cause. If his protest in Imo State was genuinely motivated by the non-payment of workers’ salaries, why has he not spearheaded a shutdown now that the governorship election has concluded? This lack of follow-through raises questions about the true intentions behind the labour leaders’ actions.
The irony is palpable as some Nigerians applaud the labour unions for paralyzing the entire nation in response to an attack on the NLC President. The collateral damage, such as students being sent home and the sick left without adequate care, underscores the authoritarian nature of the NLC and TUC’s approach.
It is worth considering the potential ramifications if these labour leaders were to assume higher political offices. The historical reticence of Ajaero and his counterparts during the #EndSARS protests, a movement against police brutality affecting the nation’s youth, casts a shadow over their commitment to broader societal issues. Instances such as the tragic death of Greatness Olorunfemi, ignored by the NLC and TUC, further call into question the unions’ dedication to addressing systemic problems.
The present nationwide strike, ostensibly in response to an attack on one individual, begs the question: where was the labour unions’ outrage when other Nigerians faced similar attacks in the past? The silence on such matters challenges the unions’ claim to be defenders of justice and human rights.
The impact of the strike on innocent students in Osun State, who bear no responsibility for the incident in Imo State, highlights the callousness of the NLC and TUC’s approach. While Ajaero and his cohorts currently wield their power to inflict hardship on Nigerians, one cannot help but wonder if they will raise objections when faced with other tyrannies in the future.
In the larger context, the current actions of the NLC and TUC may be seen as a manifestation of a broader trend: converting positions of influence into platforms for personal battles without due consideration for the welfare of the populace. As Nigerians endure the repercussions of this nationwide strike, the nation is left to grapple with the unsettling reality of a country seemingly governed by tyrants in the guise of labour leaders.
Welcome to Nigeria, a nation seemingly besieged by the tyranny of those entrusted with safeguarding the rights and well-being of its citizens.