The ongoing strike action in Imo State by the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, is ill timed.
At a period citizens of the country are in misery over the thoughtless Federal Government cashless policy and biting fuel scarcity, it is perilous for the people of the State to be submerged in an industrial action which has crippled businesses, stifled a fragile, weak and decadent economy.
Imo State and it’s people have been subjected to severe hardship, misery and insecurity-propelled by the activities of unknown gunmen, Monday Sit-At- Home Order by non State actors, soaring prices of feul and diesel, high cost of living and unemployment rate.
What exists in Imo is the peace of the graveyard.The citizens are enveloped in hopelessness and despair, ravaged by years of incompetent leadership which failed to provide responsible governance.
The State is drifting, institutions of government have either failed or crumbled, and the citizens live in folorn hope. It is that bad!
The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC President, Mr Jeo Ajaero, claimed to have acted in the interest of workers in the State by directing workers to embark on an indefinite strike.
However, he clearly failed to understand the gravity of the despair among Imolites before he choose to cut off electricity and shut the Imo Airport.
According to the Labour leader, the strike action was prompted “by the brigandage of the Imo State government in conjunction with security agencies against workers in the State who assembled peacefully to conduct the State Delegates Conference of the Congress“
And in furtherance of the strike, it advised “those travelling to Imo State through the Airport to look for other alternatives, those that make use of petroleum products should make efforts to seek alternatives and those that use electricity to seek other options outside the National Grid'”
The Labour leader alleged that the State government owe some workers salaries and entitlements for several months. Government has denied these claims, accusing Mr.Ajaero of being clannish and politically driven in his actions.
Nevertheless, the impact of the strike has kept the State in darkness for over six days and has exposed the citizens and public infrastructure to grave danger.
The Enugu Electricity Distribution Company, EEDC, had called on residents of the State, to protect it’s installations and equipments from vandals. Hotel operators have threatened to shut down operations over electricity cut. Traders have protested on the streets to express their displeasure over the strike. Across the state, it is tales of anguish and anger!
Labour should have a rethink and pursue it’s legitimate demand in a proper manner, without inflicting hardship on an already traumatized populace.
In sane climes, labour embark on strike with a human face. Industrial actions are driven by the sole aim of achieving better welfare and packages for workers and not to cause underserved pain and misery on the citizens.
The economic implications of electricity cut in the State for such a long period, is unimaginable. Businesses deplete at rapid pace with the informal sector of the economy badly affected.
The Imo State government should cease to exhibit braggadocio, iron fist, combative approach, in settling it’s rift with Labour over the strike. It would escalate the matter.
It is strange that days after Labour embarked on strike, there is no reach out mechanism by the State government to the aggrieved NLC.
Officials of the State government would be wallowing in fools paradise, if they believe that the use of egotistic statements would compel Labour to suspend the strike promptly.
This is a wrong path to follow. Constructive engagement has always remained the most effective strategic tool to resolve such issues. And the time to act is now, to save the State from further drift to a place of golgotha