The Federal Government on Tuesday berated the organised Labour over the ongoing nationwide strike declared by union leaders following the assault on the Nigeria Labour Congress President, Joe Ajaero.
Kamarudeen Ogundele, the Special Assistant to the Minister of the Justice and the Attorney-General of the Federation, in an interview on Arise Television on Tuesday, said the strike was not in the interest of the country.
But President of the Trade Union Congress, Festus Osifo who also appeared on Arise Television, noted that the Governor of Imo state, Hope Uzodimma, had not apologised over the brutalisation of Ajaero.
He said this as nationwide strike declared by the organised Labour recorded partial compliance in several states on Tuesday.
Faulting the Labour leaders, Ogundele said, “Declaring a strike at this time will not be in the interest of the country. The country is trying to regain economic control and to also recover in several sectors. Instead of looking for at how we progress as a nation, there is no need for us to try to be involved in actions that will constitute a clog in the process of the country.”
Students were seen reading and moving in and out of halls to sit for their exams.
A visit to the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control office in the Oshodi area of the state also revealed that workers went about with their daily activities.
Public and private schools in Lagos state were open for regular school activities with no sign of strike observed.
Some teachers, who spoke to our correspondent, said they were aware of the directive by the NLC but had no reason to comply.
A teacher at a technical school, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said, “We have a full house here. All our teachers are
working, and all our students are here. We heard about the strike, but, as you can see, we are not on strike.”
It was also observed that some workers at the Lagos State Secretariat, Alausa, were at their duty posts, while some offices only had a handful of staffers hanging around their offices when our correspondent visited.
The Public Relations Officer of the Lagos State chapter of the NLC, Mr Ismail Adejumo, said the level of compliance would increase on Wednesday (today).
“We have a substantial level of compliance today (Tuesday). Most of our affiliates have complied and we are mobilising others to join the struggle.
“Both the NLC and the TUC are in this struggle together.
We are currently moving around to monitor and enforce compliance among all our sister affiliates. We are determined to ensure that there is total compliance,’’ he stated.
In Rivers State, the labour action recorded no compliance as schools, banks, and the state secretariat were open to the public.
Our correspondent, who went round Port Harcourt reports the banks on the entire stretch of Aba Road and Azikiwe Road attended to customers.
The NLC Chairman in the state, Saheed Olayinka, said that though some workers reported in their offices early in the day, they later left for their homes.
He said that a committee had been put in place by the NLC to monitor the strike, adding that members had been going around the offices to ensure that workers complied with the directive on the strike.
There was partial compliance in Bauchi State as some banks, schools, and filling stations opened for business in the metropolis.
The Fidelity Bank branch located close to Shagari Plaza opened to its customers but Taj, Access, and Eco banks located on Bank Road shut their gates.
A teacher at a government primary school disclosed that they were asked to send the pupils away and go home.
She said, “We opened our school today and we did our academic activities as usual but we got a circular from the Local Government Education Authority that we should close down. But because when the memo came we had a few minutes to close and the pupils were to write a test, so I just gave them the test and we closed.”
Reacting to the question, Akaa replied, “One of the slogans of the labour union is an injury to one is injury to all,” adding that what labour was doing was to engage the government and stated, noting that what happened to workers in Benue was not peculiar to the state.
Workers in Enugu also snubbed the strike but the state NLC Chairman, Fabian Nwigbo, said they were working on how to mobilise them for the strike.
“We are at a meeting and I am trying to prepare a letter to galvanise the workers for the strike. You know the order is coming from the national secretariat,” he said.
However, our correspondent observed that banks and offices were rendering services to their customers.
Similarly, academic activities were in full swing in both private and government schools.
The strike recorded partial compliance in the Federal Capital Territory as banks and the Abuja airport remained open.
In observance of the strike, members of staff and visitors to the National Assembly, Abuja, were prevented from accessing the complex.
The union leaders in the state were said to have locked the federal and state secretariats around 5am in compliance with the directive from their headquarters.
Staff of the University of Jos who reported for work in the morning were seen returning home before 10 am.
The state NLC Chairman, Eugene Manji, declared that the workers would continue to observe the strike until otherwise directed by their national leaders.
In Edo, the state secretariat was shut on Tuesday by the NLC executives in the state.
The NLC Chairman, Odion Olaye, explained that he had sent his members to schools, the airport, petrol stations, and the Nigeria Petroleum Development Corporation to enforce compliance with the strike action.
Banks along Akpapava, Mission roads, forestry, and other areas were also shut down with customers trying to get money from a few ATMs that dispensed cash.
At the Benin Airport, an official said planes were landing and taking off as the facility was operating without any hitches.
Ilyasu Mohammed said it would be a mistake for any civil servant to embark on a strike as directed by the labour union leaders.
He said, “We are tired of wasting our time going on strike which will at the end of the day become a fruitless effort. The labour leaders will use the opportunity to negotiate with the government, get money and later suspend the strike”.
“This has happened several times and nothing has been achieved. We are tired and we will not embark on strike as directed by the labour union”.
Another worker, Musa Garba, vowed, “I will not join the strike because it will not change anything.”
Findings further showed there was compliance with the strike order in Akwa Ibom, Osun, Ebonyi, Cross River, and Niger states while the labour action was partially successful in Anambra, Ondo, Kaduna, Borno,
Ogun, and a few other states.
In Anambra State, there were full economic and commercial activities were recorded in the commercial city of Onitsha, as banks opened for customers while primary and secondary schools were also in session.
Meanwhile, the NLC has said the strike is not a blackmail of the Presidency.
The Congress further noted that President Bola Tinubu-led administration ought to be grateful for the “uncommon” patience displayed by the Organized Labour despite the sufferings faced by citizens following the removal of subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit known as petrol.
The NLC said this in a statement on Tuesday signed by its head of information, Benson Upah, in response to the statement on Monday by the Special Adviser to the president on Information and Strategy, Chief Bayo
Onanuga had said the nationwide strike by the Organized Labour was an attempt to blackmail the Presidency.
But the NLC said, “We would have ignored Bayo Onanuga, Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy because we know him plus his penchant for unwarranted bellicosity and belligerence.
“We could equally have forgiven him, knowing full well that overzealous hirelings like him easily go into overdrive in the mistaken belief that they’d earn the confidence of their principals.’’