Stella Dimoko Weekend Arena - Labour Union Wants To Strike? No Be Today Nyansh Face Back Abeg!


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Friday, September 25, 2020

Weekend Arena - Labour Union Wants To Strike? No Be Today Nyansh Face Back Abeg!


What is your spontaneous reaction these days when you hear Labour Union in Nigeria wants to go on strike?

A famous English writer, Richard Llewellyn in his popular novel, ‘How Green Was My Valley’, which ran in four volumes between 1939 and 1975 captured the role of labour unions thus: “Let the Unions become engines for the working people to right their wrongs. Not benefit societies, or burial clubs. Let the Unions become civilian regiments to fight in the cause of the people”.

How does this apply to Nigeria?

As the buzz generated from the Edo guber polls was settling, Nigerians were looking forward to something as enlivening (the first fair election after Prof Jega’s exit), only for the joint labour unions (Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress) to announce their threat of a strike scheduled for September 28th. According to them, the Federal Government must reverse the recent increases in the prices of petrol and electricity. 

As usual, the officials of NLC and TUC were on every available media platform-radio, TV, online- meaning to mobilise Nigerians to join the struggle, so the FG would reverse the policy.

But what the labour union leaders did not know (or knew but chose to ignore) was the fact that the average Nigerian has grown thick skin over threats handed down by labour unions as exemplified by today’s Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress. 

With compromise, oozing from many of their actions, people have stopped seeing labour leaders as part of them, but as an extension of the ruling class. These sentiments were lavishly expressed on most radio shows with Nigerians summarily dismissing the strike as another shadow-chasing exercise that would see the officials of the unions soft-pedaling once ‘they get settled’ by the government. For a great majority of Nigerians who spoke on radio, the labour leaders are in this struggle to feather their nest!

But this is an ugly trend indeed and a reflection of the decadence in the society.

The reason is not far-fetched. On so many instances, the organised labour has stood aloof to watch bad governance in the country, and this has aggravated this impression of compromise amongst Nigerians. In 2012, protesters, led by the labour unions, thronged the Gani Fawehinmi Park at Ojota, Lagos State, to resist the increment that brought petrol to N120 from N65. But when the present government decided to abolish the subsidy arrangement, the labour did nothing aside asking for increased minimum wage which did not come until 2019. The organised labour is very aware that Nigeria has refineries, which have refused to work in spite of the billions being spent on them annually, yet they look on with indifference.

Over the years, Nigerians have been ‘wailing’ that the cost of governance in the country is so huge and rubbing off negatively on the citizens, because the few resources available are literally appropriated amongst the ruling class in the form of bloated allowances and wages, yet the organised labour has not deemed it reasonable to embark on a strike to demand reforms.

During a radio show over the looming strike, a listener had called in to ask the national president of the TUC, Quadri Olaleye, why labour is reluctant about demanding that earnings of politicians be pruned. His response was as lame and feeble as can be: “we tell them about the need to reduce cost of governance during negotiations but such issues usually do not come to the public domain”. If such a crucial issue, milking Nigeria dry, has not come to the public domain, it simply means labour has refused to give it the serious attention it deserves. The organised labour is aware of what is called ‘security vote’, which avails some hundreds of millions of naira to state governors in the name of securing their states…what national strike have they contemplated to halt this?

While the recent increase in the prices of social services are condemnable, what was the labour expecting when they watched the government suspend the subsidy regime with an explanation that the price of fuel would be determined by the international market until Nigeria’s refineries begin to work optimally? Nigerians should ask this crop of labour leaders what they have done about workers in states like Abia, Osun, Kogi and others who are being owed years of arrears in salaries and allowances. 

They kept mute and watched the defaulting governor re-elected! How about retirees who put in 35 years only to wait till death to get their entitlements, while politicians get huge disengagement allowances after four years? Perhaps, this crop of labour leaders do not realise they have a strong role to play in building our democracy. That is the only explanation for their growing indifference over issues that are crucial. May be they should meet the likes of Frank Kokori for lessons.

During the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, how many times did the national leadership of NLC or TUC come out to remind the federal government of palliatives for vulnerable Nigerians? It was only the chairperson on NLC in Lagos, Sessi Agnes and the TUC chairman in FCT who ‘managed’ to talk about palliatives for vulnerable Lagosians and personal protective equipment for health workers in FCT respectively. But now that the economy is gradually opening, they have woken up with plans to shut the country down with a senseless strike that would achieve nothing aside hurting the economy more and probably have them ‘settle with government as usual’. 

Abeg…no be today nyash dey for back!


  1. Exactly, no be today nyash dey back.

    Ndi wayo @Labour Congress

  2. Ngozi you are so right! I am a radio addict and most callers expressed apathy and would not be participating in fact the protest is gonna be a flop..You didn't add that they are also protesting for the increase in VAT from 5% to 7.5% that was since implemented in February..See I keep saying it Nigeria is a huge conspiracy..Labour union have a whole lot of fault especially in the OCCUPY NIGERIA Flop..Same people who sponsored it are now in juicy positions in this present government..I know it will be a major flop come next week most people are working from home so who wants to stick his/her neck for protest...As Fela will say 2ND BASE JARE!

    1. Awww Phoenix you are my fellow radio lover, no wonder I am drawn to your blog persona🥰😍🥰!
      NLC and TUC sef, I am forseeing them renting crowd because Nigerians are not impressed with them at all.
      Nice one Ngọzi.

      My Testimony In A Bit 🥳🥳💃

    2. Hahahha. 2ND BASE JARE my sister. Let them go a seat down.

    3. Lol... You reminded me of Jimi Disu

  3. This is really a sad commentary because organised labour unions are supposed to be the voice of every worker and ordinary Nigerians, but they have lost the plot.

  4. Greetings to you Ngozi. God bless you always. I personally thank God for allowing Buhari rule Nigeria. If he had not worn that election. People will have died due to riot but the most important thing is that most Nigerians will have seen him as a Messiah who was not given an opportunity to save Nigerian. Lol People will have been worshiping him as a god. Maybe his house will be Mecca where people go and worship. I can only imagine how bad Nigerians will have missed his government. Thank you lord for allowing him become Nigerian civilian president to shame him and his wicked supporters. Every reputation he has before is now in the molds. Nigerians wanted CHANGE. And we have gotten CHANGE. I don't have food on my table. I lost my job due to covid 19 but l am eternally grateful Buhari is our president. Those supporters were una dey?. Those that trekked from Lagos to Abuja. Climbed mountains. Destroyed Jonathan bill boards. How market?. No body should complain oo. We die here!!

  5. Labour union is a huge joke,
    we are waiting for them to act
    already their is a protest in

  6. I remember when Oshiomole was NLC chairman, time exposes many people sha

  7. Apt as usual. You hit the nail on the head Ngozi. They (NLC AND TUC) are just toothless dogs who only bark but cannot bite. Which yeye strike be that one? Mtchew

  8. Labour kor union nii. Toothless bulldogs barking for their brown envelopes.

  9. I know they will not do anything. How do you announce a strike in 2 weeks time? They were just negotiating behind our backs, after that, collected their share and off they go! They were not for the poor masses. The industrial Court restrictions was their plan to avoid vomiting what was paid to them.
    They never intended to strike.

  10. Fuel was deregulated months ago, unfortunately most Nigerians read about the reduction in the price of fuel but didn't take the pains to read further. NLC waited for months till the cost of a liter became 160 Naira before waking up from their sleep.

    We have been importing fuel since 1995 , invariably the four refineries have been useless for 25 years. Obasanjo, Yar Adua and Goodluck Jonathan spent billions of dollars on turn around maintainace for the 4 refineries. Today, Buhari is spending billions of dollars on turn around maintenance. The workers are paid salaries and allowances for doing absolutely nothing.

    Edo state governor collects 500 million naira every month for security votes. That's 6 billion Naira per year. In 4 years he has collected 24 billion naira of the commonwealth of Edo people to enrich himself, his friends and family. I focused on Edo because it's my state.

    Goodluck got it wrong when he started paying subsidies on electricity immediately after privatisation. Those in government like to give the erroneous impression that Nigeria is a rich state. With a population of over 200 million people our annual budget is less than $28 billion dollars while South Africa with a population of 57 million people have an annual budget of close to $120 billion dollars. South African and countries in the developed world do not pay subsidies on fuel and electricity.

    Before the economic crisis induced by Covid-19 Saudi Arabia was paying subsidies on fuel, today they no longer pay. They use to pay their citizens monthly stipends, they have since stopped because of the crisis

    1. Thank you so much. People are of the erroneous belief that we are a rich country. We were borrowing money to subsidize petrol that was going into the pockets of fuel subsidy fraudsters making them billionaires. This is actually the one good thing this government has gone. People are saying they will chop the money. The money doesn’t exist. We have just struck out our biggest gbese.


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