Nigeria’s Labour Union Might Die Soon

Nigeria’s Labour Congress, NLC is in shambles. It might be finally decimated by the current happenings, if the union does not restrategise on how it will run its affairs and clamour for worker’s reprieve from the adverse effects of government policies, its statutory duty.

Less than 48 hours ago, a faction of the NLC declared that it will be embarking on an indefinite industrial action. Another faction said it will not embark on a strike action but continue to dialogue with the government on the new pump price of petrol and its new minimum wage demand.

As to how we came about two factions is a long story. The fact in the saga is a reality that Nigeria’s chequered history of electoral malpractices has included the union’s election in its record. A disputed election gave rise to two factions- Ayuba Wabba and the Joe Ajaero’s factions.

With no plans of reconciliation in sight these two groups have polarised the labour union across various sections of the Nigerian labour market. The country’s workforce are now left with ideologically-deficient pressure groups whose intentions are wrapped in individualistic pursuits for supremacy and at the same time laying claim to the authentic labour authority.

The strike had no bearing. All major cities in the country, particularly Lagos had normal business and commercial activities going on. The NLC mocked itself with pockets of protests in smaller cities with no bearing on the economic index of the country.

There is a narrative that the NLC has become totally detached from the yearnings of Nigerians. Their involvement in the 2012 subsidy protest has call to question its integrity. However, the fact that Nigeria is in a dire strait and needed to make the decision was another convincing reason why the organised private sector might have pulled out of the strike.

The fact that one faction went on strike and the strike became a flop makes it worst for the union, but Nigerian workers will be the one to suffer for it. The implications of these schism are damning. The government now has the upperhand in any negotiations. It can choose to dialogue with whatever faction it is pleased with. In the end Nigerians are the one to pay for this confusion.

The last time the NLC was socially-influential was during the trenure of Comrade Adams Oshiomole. Adams is now the Governor of Edo State, a state in Nigeria’s South South region. As an influential benefactor of the union, Adams tried to wade into the matter with no progress. However, his membership in Nigeria’s ruling party also makes him less credible as his views and recommendations might be deemed biased and pro-government.

Nigeria’s civil society might have to either wade into the matter or form a formidable opposition. As it stands, should the two factions not resolve their matters, the NLC might die a soon.

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