Nigeria: Workers' Strike - We're Ready for You, El-Rufai Tells NLC, PDP

Ahead of the five-day warning strike directed by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) scheduled to commence today in Kaduna, Governor Nasir El-Rufai says he is ready and will wait for the union leaders and the opposition Peoples' Democratic Party.

Daily Trust reports that the Transmission Company of Nigeria had since midnight of Saturday knocked off all the 33KV lines in the state, leaving residents in darkness. This followed an earlier warning by the National Union of Electricity Employees that it had been directed by the NLC to join the warning strike.

It was gathered that many civil servants had decided to boycott the strike today following a warning by the state government that attendance would be taken.

El-Rufai had on Saturday said his government would not bow to blackmail, insisting that it was not sustainable to spend 84 to 96 percent of its federal allocation on salaries and personnel costs.

The state government had noted that it had been subjected to campaign of lies, misrepresentation and false claims that its rightsizing exercise affected 4,000 workers and that it had stopped paying the minimum wage.

Daily Trust reports that at least 14 affiliates of the NLC from the aviation, petroleum, banking, health and transport sectors have expressed their readiness to comply with the strike.

NLC President, Ayuba Wabba and other leaders of the union arrived Kaduna yesterday for close-door meeting.

However, reacting to the PDP Vanguard which made a statement on Twitter that a 'mother of all labour strikes' would take place in Kaduna, El-Rufai described the NLC and the PDP as "fathers of all hypocrites", stressing that Kaduna would wait for them.

He tweeted: "FATHERS OF ALL HYPOCRITES: Kaduna will wait for you all - the invisible PDP & affiliates like the hypocritical NLC that is yet to implement the National Minimum Wage Act, 2019 for its own employees."

Fuel queues build ahead of workers' strike

Meanwhile, Residents of Kaduna have resorted to panic buying of petroleum ahead of today's five-day warning strike directed by the NLC.

The Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) had earlier directed all petroleum tanker drivers to withdraw services to Kaduna State for five-days.

Our correspondent observed that queues were building at fuel stations within Kaduna metropolis as motorists tried to fill their vehicle tanks and other containers for domestic use.

Salisu Ibrahim, who lives in Badiko, said he was on a queue for almost an hour to fuel his tank and a 25litre can for his generator at home.

"The TCN has already commenced its own strike even ahead of Labour," he said, adding that: "There was power outage sometimes around 12 midnight on Saturday and we have been without electricity since then, so one will need enough fuel to ensure that perishable items in the fridge do not spoil."

He said he had also rushed to a POS point to make withdrawals as he was sure that ATM points will also become overcrowded as the days go by.

Aviation workers block Kaduna Airport, says no going back

Aviation workers said yesterday there was no going back on shutting down the Kaduna International Airport in compliance with the directive of the NLC.

The workers comprising the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals (ANAP) and the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) had earlier issued a joint notice to join the one-week strike.

In a letter dated 14th May 2021 to the Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), the aviation unions informed that they would proceed on the action in compliance with the NLC directive with effect from midnight of Sunday, the 16th of May, 2021 to midnight of Friday the 21st of May.

Speaking with our correspondent yesterday, General Secretary of NUATE, Ochem Aba, said the Kaduna Airport would be shut down by 7 p.m.

"We are currently at Mando and from there we would go in convoy to shut down the gate of the airport. There is no going back. All the authorities have been duly informed," he said in a telephone chat with our correspondent.

Daily Trust reports that Air Peace is currently the only airline that flies to Kaduna. It was learnt that the airline has been duly informed about the industrial action. As of the time of filing this report, the airline had closed booking on its website for Kaduna flight.

Apart from the scheduled commercial flight, other private charter operations in and out of Kaduna state would be affected.

A labour leader and former General Secretary of NUATE, Olayinka Abioye, said the action by the NLC "is long overdue."

"It is good that the labour movement is converging on Kaduna to deal with him. How can a governor wake up to say you are sacking people to say you are doing review? I am fully in support of the action of the labour movement. It is long overdue," he added.

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