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Govt offices shut, nationwide blackout as NLC begins warning strike

…Electricity workers shut down power supply in Abuja, other cities

  • Commercial banks in Lagos, Ogun, Kogi, others defy NUBIFIE directive

Many government offices, especially ministries, departments, and agencies in the nation’s capital, Abuja, were shut down on Tuesday in solidarity with the two-day nationwide warning strike declared by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), just as a power outage also hit the Federal Capital Territory and its environment as workers shut down the power supply over the two-day warning strike.

Our reporter, who visited the Federal Secretariat on Tuesday alongside other major areas such as the popular Radio House and other government offices at the Central Business District and some parts of Wuse District, observed that the areas were deserted as workers decided to stay back home.

Banks located in the areas visited were also under lock and key, including those located in Wuse, which were also under lock and key.

However, the scenario is different at the secretariat of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), where most offices were opened for business.

Our reporter noted that most staff of the administration were seen doing their normal routine office work.

The Abuja Electricity Distribution Company disclosed the cause for blackout in the capital terriroty, on Tuesday in a notice to customers through its X handle due to the NLC warning strike action.

The DisCo said: We are aware of the general power outage being experienced across our franchise due to the enforcement by NLC of the 2-day warning strike embarked upon by the labour union.

“We apologize for any inconvenience you may be experiencing as a result of this, as we continue our engagement with key stakeholders towards minimizing the strike’s impact on our customers”, the notice partly reads.

The same ugly scenario was also recorded in Umuahia, the capital of Abia State, on Tuesday, as the city was thrown into darkness because the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) joined the rest of the other state workers to comply with the two-day warning strike declared by the Nigeria labour Congress.

Our reporter, who monitored the warning strike, witnessed the office of the Head of Service in Abia State, and the Abia State Secretariat was also under lock and key.

The Federal Medical Centre (FMC) in Umuahia is the only federal government institution rendering services to its patients.

Most people who don’t listen to news about the warning strike were stranded at the banks as they met the banks under lock and key.

When contacted in a telephone interview, the state chairman of the Abia State Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Pascal Nweke, said that the Abia State labour force complied with the warning strike declared by the national body.

In Kano, many public and private institutions were under lock and key as the NLC enforcement team went about supervising the strike action.

The state chairman of the NLC, Comrade Kabiru Inuwa, said that the strike action became necessary as it appeared that the Federal Government (FG) was paying lip service to the sufferings of the Nigerian masses months after removing fuel subsidy.

Workers in the state are witnessing unimagined hardship as the minimum wage is no longer sufficient, coupled with the heightened cost of living,” he added.

According to him, while top government officials still maintain an extravagant lifestyle, the poor masses are still grappling with the basic necessities of life.

He therefore stated that all workers in Kano are observing the 2-day warning strike.

He, however, hinted that this is just a warning strike, as announced by the national body, and if the FG fails to meet the demands of the masses, then an indefinite strike will take place.

“Nigerians are suffering on a day-to-day basis, and the FG needs to meet our demands.

“The Kano Council of the NLC calls on the FG to go beyond distributing palliatives and put in concrete measures to ameliorate the sufferings the people are passing through because of fuel subsidy removal,” he said.

Similarly, Comrade Ado Riruwai, the NLC Chairman of the private sector and leader of the strike enforcement team in Kano, disclosed that “we are currently shutting down all government and private agencies that have not complied with the ongoing strike.

“Some of the sectors we shut down include banks, KEDCO, and all government institutions in the state.

“Currently, we have been informed that a flight has taken off, and we are approaching to shut down the airport as well.”

At the Central Business Area of the state, there was calm, as few commercial tricycles were seen plying the roads, though a handful of shop owners were open for business.

However, the situation was different in Lagos and Osun states, where some Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) defied the directive by the National Union of Banks, Insurance, and Financial Institution Employees (NUBIFIE) to withdraw services in compliance with the two-day warning strike on Tuesday.

The NUBIFIE, in a notice issued by its Secretary General, Mohammed Sheikh, directed all its zonal councils to comply with the directive of the NLC.

“In line with the communiqué issued after the meeting of the National Executive Council (NEC) of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) held on Thursday, August 31, 2023, all affiliates should direct all their members to commence two days’ withdrawal of services from Tuesday and Wednesday, September 5th and 6th, 2023.

“The directives are imperative to get the needed attention of the government and warn it of its new-found love of meddling in the internal affairs of unions rather than address the punishing economic circumstances we find ourselves in.

“We hereby direct all our organs to comply with this directive by ensuring all our members stay off duty for the two days. Your corporation in this regard will be appreciated,” the notice read.

However, our correspondent, who visited some of the DMBs in the Kola area of Lagos, observed that all the banks within the area were offering services to their customers.

Banks that opened for service include Access Bank, Fidelity Bank, and Zenith Bank.

Also, in the Ota area of Ogun State, First Bank and GT Bank, located along Idiroko Road, opened for service and were seen attending to their customers.

At the Zenith Bank along the same Idiroko Road, a security guard said that the bank had not opened for service as of 10:59 a.m.

However, there was partial compliance with the strike declared by the Nigeria Labour Congress in Kogi State.

It was gathered that some ministries and parastatals were open while others were under lock and key.

The Ministry of Health, Education, and Agriculture, Kogi State Secretariat located in Zone Eight Lokoja, Kogi State Specialist Hospital, Federal Teaching Hospital Lokoja, Federal University Lokoja, and Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC), all partially observed the strike.

Meanwhile, banks within Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, conducted their normal operations, attending to customers.

The Kogi State Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Gabriel Amari, said in a chat that members of the union are already out to ensure total compliance with the strike as directed by the national secretariat.

Recall that the NLC, in a communiqué released last Friday, which was jointly signed by its national president, Joe Ajaero, and Secretary, Emmanuel Ugboaja, said it decided to take the decision following the failure of the Tinubu-led Federal Government to dialogue and engage stakeholders within the organized labour on efforts to cushion the effects of the removal of subsidies on Premium Motor Spirit, popularly known as petrol, on the “poor masses.

Already, the organized labour in August staged a one-day protest that grounded activities in major cities across the country.

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