June 12, 2024

Organised Labour Strike: No one was arrested or threatened – President Tinubu

I’ll justify the trust Nigerians place on me – Tinubu

File: President Bola Tinubu

By Nwafor Sunday

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has said that no one was threatened or arrested when Organised Labour embarked on a nationwide strike last week Monday.

 He said the reason was because he did not seek to oppress or crack down on the workers as a dictatorial government would have done, noting that he chose the path of cooperation over conflict.

It would be recalled that the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Senator George Akume, accused the organized labour of committing treasonable felony for shutting the national grid during the strike.

Similarly, the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, had described Labour’s action as economic sabotage, noting that shutting the national grid was more of an economic sabotage than agitation for new minimum wage.

He said: “Disruption of Hajj flight by some other labour unionists as said by the Deputy President of the Senate , is also not palatable being a religious exercise.

“Also , disruption or prevention of students from writing their West African School Certificate Examination by some labour unionists during the strike was bad because the examination is not organized by Nigeria but West African Countries.”

Also, in his reaction the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, had also described the Labour’s strike as “premature, ineffectual and illegal”, and called for an end to the strike.

However, reacting to the above, the organized Labour said that for the past 25 years the political elite had willfully sabotaged Nigeria through the acts of corruption and abuse of power.

“NLC strongly refutes Senate President Senator Godswill Akpabio’s recent claims that the indefinite nationwide strike by the NLC and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, constitutes economic sabotage. Such accusations are baseless and deeply troubling for Nigerian patriots and democracy advocates”.

On the order hand, a human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN, advised the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, that his client (Orgnaised Labour) had not committed any offence as accused by him.

Reacting to SGF’s statement Labour opined: “Those who loot our treasury around the country, those who divert public resources meant for hospitals and schools; those who are involved in foreign exchange round-tripping; padding of budgets and inflating contracts including those who steal trillions of Naira in the name of subsidy are the real Economic saboteurs who commit treasonable felony”.

However, having witnessed the altercations from both angles (Government and  Labour), Tinubu in his Wednesday Speech on Democracy Day said that no one has been arrested or threatened for embarking on a nationwide strike. Tinubu promised to always listen to Nigerians, vowing never to turn his back on them.

His words: “As we continue to reform the economy, I shall always listen to the people and will never turn my back on you.

“In this spirit, we have negotiated in good faith and with open arms with organized labour on a new national minimum wage. We shall soon send an executive bill to the National Assembly to enshrine what has been agreed upon as part of our law for the next five years or less.

“In the face of labour’s call for a national strike, we did not seek to oppress or crack down on the workers as a dictatorial government would have done. We chose the path of cooperation over conflict.

“No one was arrested or threatened. Instead, the labour leadership was invited to break bread and negotiate toward a good-faith resolution.

“Reasoned discussion and principled compromise are hallmarks of democracy. These themes shall continue to animate my policies and interaction with the constituent parts of our political economy.

“I take on this vital task without fear or favour and I commit myself to this work until we have built a Nigeria where no man is oppressed”.