The Nigerian government on Wednesday bowed to the Nigerian labour unions who are protesting the assault of their boss, Mr Joe Ajaero, President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), by suspected security operatives in Owerri, Imo State capital on November 1.
The unions are on nationwide strike demanding the arrest and prosecution of the assailants of their boss.
The Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), has now announced the apprehension of individuals responsible for the assault on Mr Ajaero and commencement of investigations into the incident as demanded by the unions.
Nigeria’s economy was grinding to a screeching halt as affiliate trade organizations after the other joined the nationwide strike called by Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) – the two umbrella bodies for all labour trade unions in Nigeria.
The unions’ leadership earlier articulated six demands to the government which was initially rebuffed and the government accused the unions of “blackmail”. It blamed the NLC boss for his ordeal.
Angered, the unions called for a strike which began Monday.
But in a statement released on Wednesday, the National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu, conveyed apologies to the organized labor for the attack and urged them to reconsider the continuation of the current strike.
The statement expressed concern about the potential repercussions of the strike on the daily lives of ordinary Nigerians and its impact on economic security and other vital national interests.
The NSA agreed that the assault on the union’s boss was “against the rule of law and the principles of freedom of association and expression”, and promised the government would never “condone such an act”.
The NSA said the unions were invited and it became necessary to “appeal to the labour leadership to call off the current strike action and allow the dialogue process underway to be exhausted”.
But the damage is done, and a proactive government would have been more responsive to the agitated unions who saw the assault on Ajaero as a collective undermining of the entire labour movement if left unchallenged.
It had since November 5 given a notice of its intent to proceed on strike but the government dragged its feet until now.
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