President Tinubu improvised “subsidy is gone” in his inauguration address on May 29. After such pronouncements, Nigerians feared a scarcity.
After a day, the crowds disappeared as it became evident that petrol would be expensive but not scarce.
The president was criticized for not contacting Labor before the action. On Wednesday, June 7, Labour members will stop working, crippling Nigeria’s economy. Labour sought pre-inauguration pricing before resuming discussions.
Labour’s dogmatic position—that the government should eliminate petrol subsidies only after all palliatives have been used—is erroneous. No way. Presidents can’t wait. Nigeria cannot.
Asking the government to consult Labour before making this economic decision has significant consequences. Labour’s right to bargain is key. Labour doesn’t.
After Peter Obi became its candidate, the Labour group—representing organized labor—became a prominent opposition group. Unions are political parties. Democracy allows the minority (opposition) to voice. Opposing political parties can vote and sue. Otherwise, incumbent wins.
16-year PDP dominance. In those years, PDP made economic and governance decisions without CPC, AD, ANPP, ACN, APC, or other opposition parties. The APC made several major economic decisions without engaging the opposition during its eight-year reign. It occasionally ignored itself! Democracy is majority-rule.
PDP calling for Nigerian workers to strike following a government policy decision would be treacherous. Nigerians think PDP should write its own manifesto and wait for the next election. Or sue.
Labour has two options since becoming a party. Industrial actions are banned because they can be utilized for political opposition rather than worker discontent.
Labor is now a political party, as shown:
NLC and TUC leaders marched in Abuja 28 days before the subsidy address. NLC did not invite the president-elect and his deputy to that rally. The gathering included their party’s candidate.
At the monument, the president-elect’s Labour Minister addressed. The minister was booed offstage. The minister was ignored. NLC and TUC leaders watched. Their candidate addressed workers amicably. TUC-NLC cap. He sang “aluta continua” with labor leaders and donned their clothes.
NLC organized a solidarity march at Labour Party headquarters when the national chairman had troubles. NLC President Joe Ajaero called the Labour Party “our ideological movement” at the march. NLC and TUC leadership (Ali Modu Sheriff, Secondus, Ayu) plagued PDP. Oshiomole-Buni APC. Labour marched in solidarity after their party.
The person Labour marched with has been petitioning the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal since early May, claiming the president stole Labour Party’s mandate. Labour Party asked the court to nullify February elections and compel fresh ones with the president disqualified.
I won’t defend these examples.
Labor is equally responsible for any president-elect-labor communication divide. Labour had March, April, and 28 May to engage the president-elect. It spent those days arguing that the president-elect stole the election and with those who wanted him not sworn in. Labour’s president-elect approach?
Labour’s industrial actions appear meaningless now that they have a legal case against Tinubu’s comeback and presidency. Equalize Nigerians? To delay Labour’s tribunal victory? Asking these questions is problematic.
Nigerian organized labor, especially in its current form, has lost its moral high ground and its status as a pressure group representing various individuals whose major resemblance is welfare. They represent partisan candidates in opposition.
Political parties are their only option. Labour might sue or wait until 2027. Losers damage economies with opposition party strikes. If we wouldn’t let other political parties, Labour shouldn’t either.