MANY workers yesterday shunned the strike called by a faction of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) led by Ayuba Wabba to protest the increased price of petrol from N86.50 to N145. But there were rallies, which disrupted traffic in some cities.
All was normal in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja – the seat of the government – and in Lagos – the nation’s financial and business engine-room. The oil city of Port Harcourt, capital of Rivers State, and many other state capitals were peaceful and busy.
Rallies were held in many places, including Lagos and Abuja. They were addressed by Labour leaders and civil society organisations. Activities in government, public and private establishments were going on in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
At the State Secretariat, work went on. Earlier in the day, there was an attempt by an NLC group to lock up the place. Local Trade Union Congress (TUC) Chairman Chika Onuegbu described the failed strike as a “tragedy” and “minus” for labour movement.
Onuegbu said there was need for the two factions of the NLC to unite, stressing that the success of any labour movement depends on a single and common agenda.
He said TUC withdrew from the planned strike because it found out that the action would be a fruitless effort without any benefit on the workers.
The TUC chairman called on living founding fathers of the labour movement to intervene in the NLC crisis, cautioning the Federal Government not conclude that it has won the battle. Bank workers and customers in Lagos ignored the strike call as banks were opened. Government offices were also open. News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) report said security was beefed up at bank premises on Marina and the Lagos Central Business District (CBD) on Lagos Island.
There were normal activities in Ojuelegba, Mushin and on Ikorodu Road as well as other parts of Lagos. Traffic moved freely all over the metropolis. Major markets, such as the Computer Village, Katangowa, Mile 12, Ile-Epo and others were in full swing.
Petrol stations were dispensing fuel across the metropolis at N145 per litre. There were no queues. At the Lagos State Government Secretariat, all was normal.
The Ikeja City Mall, housing the popular retailer Shoprite and major business outfits, was throbbing with people. All public and private schools in the Lagos metropolis were running. Members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) did not heed labour’s call for a strike. An Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) was stationed at the Gani Fawehinmi Park, Ojota, popularly called the Freedom Park, but no one was seen entering the park for any protest, unlike in 2012 during the fuel protest when thousands of Lagosians thronged the park.
However, hoodlums were in the morning reported to have blocked the ever-busy Ikorodu Road, but the situation was quickly put under check. The National Union of Airport Transport Employees (NUATE) and the Association of Senior Services Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), threatened to shut down the Lagos Airport today, should the government fail to reverse the increase in petrol price.