The ongoing nationwide strike declared by the Nigeria Labour Congress to protest the increase in the pump price of petrol entered its third day on Friday as more unions joined the industrial action.
It was learnt that more banks, schools and government offices across the country were shut.
Labour union officials had on Thursday stormed some state secretariats to enforce the strike leading to clashes with workers.
Imo stands still as strike bites harder
Commercial and social activities in Imo State were almost paralysed following the strike. This was despite threats by the state government to dismiss any worker who participates in the action.
One of our correspondents observed that virtually all government establishments, especially the civil service secretariat, the House of Assembly complex and local government council headquarters, among others were deserted on Friday with armed policemen and men of the Imo Security Networks stationed at their entrance gates.
Public schools in the state were similarly deserted as members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities have also joined the strike.
Also, banks were shut for fear of likely attacks by hoodlums.
Meanwhile, the state government directed all banks in the state to sustain their normal banking services to the public.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Rochas Okorocha, Mr. Sam Onwuemedo, described the strike as uncalled for and warned that any individual, group or association caught disrupting the operations of the banks would be dealt with accordingly.
Workers desert offices in Akwa Ibom
Civil servants in Akwa Ibom State were yet to resume work on Friday as secretariats – both federal and state remained locked.
A senior labour leader, who spoke to one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity, vowed that no worker would resume work until the Federal Government reversed the petrol pump price.
All attempts to speak with the state Chairman of the NLC, Mr. Etim Ukpong, were unsuccessful.
Banks shut in Cross River
In Calabar, the Cross River State capital, officials of the NLC and other labour leaders on Friday embarked on protest for the third day running from Eta-Agbor Roundabout through the IBB Way and terminated at the busy Marian Road.
The protesters said they were out to ensure that workers in public institutions and banks stayed away from their offices.
It would be the first time that banks along Mayne Avenue, Calabar Road, IBB Way and Marian Road would be shut for businesses since the strike began on Wednesday.
However, petrol stations were opened and attendants dispensed the product to customers at N145 per litre. Markets and other private business outlets were also opened during the peaceful protest by the labour leaders.
The state Chairman of NLC, Mr. John Ushie, said the strike would continue until the government reversed the pump price from N145 to N86.50 per litre.
Public schools, banks, courts remain closed in Jos
All public schools in Jos remained closed on Friday, our correspondent observed.
Commercial banks were also closed as most of them operated indoors without opening their doors to customers.
Though state courts obeyed the directive of labour union, federal institutions including federal high courts in the state were open for services.
Federal workers also reported for duty at their secretariat.
Though there were no rallies, the leadership of the NLC set up a task force to ensure compliance.
Chairman of the NLC in the state, Mr. Jibrin Bancir, told Saturday PUNCH that the state chapter would sustain the strike until the Federal Government heeded to the demands of the workers.
More unions join in Niger
The effects of the strike were stronger in Niger State on Friday unlike the previous days when workers showed little interest in the action.
The Association of Senior Staff Union, Federal University of Technology, Minna, and Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, College of Education, Minna chapter, joined the industrial action fully on Friday.
The ASSU Chairman, Dr. Ndanusa Mohammed, told Saturday PUNCH that his union joined the national strike in accordance with the directive from the national body of organised labour.
“We have withdrawn our services from the school pending when the strike will be called off and we believe the issue will soon be resolved,” he said.
Mohammed’s counterpart in the SSAN, College of Education Minna chapter, Mr. Aliyu Mohammed, said the union complied with NLC’s directive to join the strike.
Workers also deserted federal and state secretariats for fear of being “harassed by the NLC.”
Medical activities paralysed at ATBUTH
Medical Services were on Friday paralysed at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Teaching Hospital, Bauchi, following the strike embarked upon by the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives.
Saturday PUNCH observed that only few medical practitioners were seen attending to the numerous patients who had visited the hospital for medical attention.
Some patients lamented that medical services at the hospital had worsened since nurses and midwives joined the state Association of Resident Doctors, which had already been on strike.
Saturday PUNCH observed that the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi chapter, had also joined the NLC strike.
It was observed that academic activities were paralysed with students sitting down in groups discussing the matter.
The Chairman, Joint Negotiations Council of the NLC in Bauchi State, Mr. Aliyu Mohammed, told one of our correspondents that there was no going back on the strike.
However, when Saturday PUNCH visited the Abubakar Umar State Secretariat, it was observed that civil servants were in their offices going about their normal official activities. Also, banks, schools, motor parks and markets in the state opened for their businesses.
Schools, courts shut in Ogun
Many primary and secondary schools in Ogun State were shut as the strike entered its third day.
Also, the magistrate courts located at Isabo area of Ogun State were not opened to litigants.
Though banks in most parts of Abeokuta, the state capital, were opened for business, their security men were extra vigilant as they frisked customers entering the banking halls.
Skeletal activities were also noticed at the Federal Secretariat, Oke Mosan, as one of the major gates leading to the premises was locked.
Labour, LG workers clash in Edo
There was a mild drama at the Oba Akenzua Cultural Centre in Benin, the Edo State capital, when some local government workers openly resisted attempts by members of the organised labour and Civil Society Organisations to force them to join the ongoing strike.
Members of the NLC and the CSOs on Friday marched through the busy Ring Road at the city centre and disrupted traffic on Airport Road for several hours, before making their way to the cultural centre where the local government personnel were undergoing a screening exercise.
An altercation between a protester and one of the local government workers almost turned violent before some policemen intervened.
But the state Chairman of the NLC, Mr. Emmanuel Ademokun, denied that workers were being coerced to join the strike.
“We are not forcing them out; we are asking them to join us,” Ademokun said.
Two sets of strike in Bayelsa
In Bayelsa State, there are two sets of strike: the nationwide strike over the hike in pump price of petrol and the workers’ strike over months of unpaid salaries.
The two industrial actions paralysed commercial and social activities in the state.
When the nationwide strike began on Wednesday, it did not achieve the desired objective as workers defied the NLC directive by reporting for work.
But civil servants on Thursday began their strike, leading to the shutdown of activities in the state.
The workers also shut the state-owned broadcast stations, leaving only the management staff and directors to carry out skeletal services.
Worried by the development, Governor Seriake Dickson threatened to invoke the principle of ‘no work, no pay’.
Reacting to the governor’s threat that workers would forfeit their salaries if they failed to report at their duty posts, a rights activist, Alagoa Morris, said that such a threat would not work.
“The threat will not work because if labour leaders allow that to happen, it means they have lost their bearings,” he said.
Chairman, Bayelsa State NLC, Ndiomu John-Bipre, also dismissed Dickson’s threats, saying workers in the state were in serious pains over the unpaid salaries.
SSANU, ASUU, VC, others decry high petrol price
The National President of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, Samsom Ugwoke; a factional Chairman, ASUU, University of Ilorin chapter, Dr. Usman Raheem; the Vice-Chancellor of Alhikmah University, Prof. Muhammed Ibrahim and the President, Students Union Government, Unilorin, Alao Idris, on Friday, said the petrol price hike would adversely affect the economy and the education sector.
Ugwoke, who spoke through SSANU’s Deputy National President, Moses Adeniyi-Aogo, said it was wrong that the Federal Government allegedly failed to engage relevant stakeholders including the labour union, before announcing the fuel price increase.
He stated that SSANU joined the strike called by the NLC to fight for the masses.
Meanwhile, officials and members of the NLC, Kwara State chapter, on Thursday drove away workers at the Federal High Court and some other offices of federal agencies and parastatals.
One of our correspondents learnt that the union members picketed the offices before the close of work on Thursday.
The NLC officials nearly had a confrontation with members of the Trade Union Congress, who had in company with some security operatives, started reopening the gates of some ministries and parastatals of the state government on Friday.
TUC was said to have announced that workers should disregard the NLC strike and resume for duties.
The state NLC Chairman, Mr. Yekini Agunbiade, confirmed that the union leaders picketed and drove away federal judicial workers and other workers in some federal parastatals.
He added that the picketing could not be carried out at the Federal Secretariat because of the presence of some security operatives.
NANS splits over fuel hike
The Academic Staff Union of Universities on Friday continued their protest against the increase in the petrol pump price.
The Chairman of ASUU at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Dr. Caleb Aborisade, led other unionists and students to stage a rally from the campus to Lagere, where they addressed members of the public on the need to reject the new policy on petrol.
The protesters including members of the Joint Action Front distributed leaflets to members of the public on the reasons why they should reject the new price.
He said, “Nigerians wanted a change and that was why he (President Muhammadu Buhari) was voted in. We reject the new price of petrol and we will not stop the protest.”
The ASUU urged the Federal Government to make the existing refineries work optimally and build new ones in order to stop depending on imported fuel for domestic use.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Coordinator of the National Association of Nigerian Students in the South-West, Mr. Saheed Afolabi, has dissociated NANS members in the region from the position of the leadership at the national body, which supported the fuel price hike.
Afolabi accused the NANS national leadership of corruption.
Labour threatens to shut Ekiti, warns traders
The NLC has threatened to shut Ekiti State on Saturday (today) to enforce compliance with the nationwide strike. The union staged a street protest in Ado Ekiti on Friday in coalition with the Joint Action Front with a warning to financial institutions, traders and artisans to stay at home in obedience to the strike action. The protest caused traffic gridlock as motorists had to queue behind the labour union leaders, who were busy passing anti-government messages.
The NLC Chairman, Raymond Adesanmi, told Saturday PUNCH that there would be total shutdown of the state on Saturday. He said, “There is a directive from the national headquarters to embark on strike. Unfortunately, there are dissidents. Federal Government has succeeded in sowing seeds of discord among the labour unions. But we are telling them, united we stand. Nothing will divide us.
Stop harassing our members, TUC tells NLC
In a related development, the Ondo State chapter of the TUC has warned the NLC to stop preventing its members from going to the office.
The TUC, together with its affiliates, has backed out of the ongoing industrial action embarked upon by the NLC against the increment in the pump price of petrol by the Federal Government.
In a statement issued on Friday by the state Chairman of the TUC and secretary of the Association of Senior Civil Servants in Ondo State, Mr. Ekundayo Soladoye, the TUC said the NLC was not supposed to be harassing its members who were going to their offices since the union had backed out of the strike.
The statement read, “We are disappointed at the inaction of the state government in allowing the NLC and its allies to prevent our members from gaining access to their respectively offices despite several press releases that TUC and all its affiliates are not part of the strike.”
The union, in the statement, also called on the state government to provide adequate security for the lives and properties of its members during and after the ongoing strike action.
However, the state secretary of the NLC, Mr. Adewale Sanusi, said, “It is surprising that the TUC has backed out of the strike for the reason best known to the members but as far as the NLC is concerned, we are complying with the directive of our union, so the strike continues indefinitely.”