By Stephen Ubanna
In spite of the high level of insecurity necessitated by the activities of the Islamic Fundamentalist Group -BokoHaram and the Islamic State of West African Province , ISWAP, a splinter Group of Bokoharam, in the north east as well as the activities of the Bandits in the north west and other Criminal gangs in other parts of the country over the last one decade, confronting the country, the situation appears to have been made worse with the incessant industrial actions embarked upon by Labor Organisations. The on going nationwide strike by Polytechnic Lecturers, National Association of resident Doctors, NARD, and the Judiciary workers speaks volume: a nation in crisis.
Justice Tanko Muhammad, Mohammad , the Chief Justice, CJ, of Nigeria who is not had the use of strikes to settle labour issues has spread to the Judiciary, according to informed sources is doing everything within his capacity to bring he situation under control.
The CJ, may have known the implications of the Judiciary Staff of Nigeria, JUSUN, embarking on an industrial action that he has called for an end to it to restore normalcy in the Law Courts. Penultimate week, there have been rumours making the rounds that that the Leadership of JUSUN, had concluded arrangement to drag members out on strike to draw the attention of President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired army General, who is currently ruling Nigeria from the United Kingdom, UK, where he is having a two weeks Medical vacation to the plight of the Judiciary , over the non-implementation of the Executive Order No.10. 2020, by the state governments IN granting financial autonomy to the third arm of government.
The JUSUN strike was said to have been proposed to kick-start on Monday, April 5, 2021 but had to be shifted to Tuesday, April 6,, 2021, due to the Easter public Holiday. Initially, the state and Federal High Court Authorities, did not take the rumour about the planned JUSUN strike serious because it has never happened before in the country.
The CJ, however, became convinced that that it was real when the staff of the High Courts, both at the state and Federal level, including Lawyers were locked out locked out from entering the Court premises in the 36 states of the Federation including Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT,on Tuesday, April 6, 2021.
Mran Adamu, president, JUSUN, may have sent a signal to the Judiciary Authorities at the start of the strike that will not be called off until the government meet the demand both at the state and Federal levels.. ‘’There is no going back on the strike and all Courts within the states would remain shut’’, he had said.
The striking Judiciary workers could not understand why the Katsina state born Nigerian born President who has granted financial Autonomy to the Legislature and the Judiciary could not follow it up to ensure that it is implemented by the various state governments., As at press time, the states and Federal High Courts throughout the country are still under lock and key despite repeated appeals by Mohamadu, the CJ.
Perhaps the intervention of the Nigerian President on his return from his overseas two weeks Medical vacation may make the difference. Political analysts believe that if he had allowed Yemi Osinbajo, the Vice President to be the country’s acting President for the two weeks, he may have used his Executive powers to call a truce between the striking Judiciary workers and the government at the state and the Federal level as the matter may not have gotten to level of grounding the Courts. The JUSUN Leadership may have to wait for the 78 year-old President to return to the country before the final solution to the Judiciary, strike can be sorted out.
Recall that the Nigerian President had signed into Law an Executive Order No.10 of May, 2020, ‘’granting financial autonomy to the Legislature and the Judiciary of the 36 states of the Federation’’. The Leadership of JUSUN, requires the state governors ‘’to include the allocations of both the Legislature and the Judiciary in the first – charge of their respective budgets’’.
It was said to have also ordered the Accountant-General of the Federation to deduct from source the amount due to the state Legislatures and Judiciaries from the monthly allocation to each state that refuses to grant the financial autonomy but that was how far he could go.
Indeed, getting worried over the Judiciary workers strike which has paraalysed Court activities throughout the country, the Bauchi state born CJ, was said to have met with some selected Leaders of the local and national of JUSUN, in his Chamber at the Supreme Court at the FCT, ‘’ ‘’to explore solutions and ways to mitigate the impact of the ongoing strike on the nation’s Judiciary sector’’.
He was said to have asked the leadership of JUSUN ‘’to sheath their swords while the process of making the state governments implement the Executive Order No. 10 and the various Courts Judgments on the financial autonomy of the Judiciary are being implemented’’. The aggrieved Judiciary workers had faulted the state governments over their actions towards the implementation of the Executive Order No.10, which they said contravened Provisions of the 199 Constitution , as amended.
The Leadership of the NBA, may not have been happy with JUSUN, for joining the league of industrial Unions that could resort to strike when their demands are not met by the government. Th ey noted that some of the state governments are yet to implement the Executive Order, NO.10, granting Financial autonomy to the Judiciary but it was not enough reason to down tools that had paralysed the Court activities throughout the country.
The NBA, had asked the Leadership of JUSUN, both at state and Federal levels ‘’to consider’’ the timing of the strike’’, stating that IT was not the best time for it. The Leadership of NBA, may have gotten an insider information about the strike, that they were said to have urged the Judiciary workers ‘’to shelve it’’ but that was how far they could go.
Olumide Akpata, president, NBA, who could not hide his feelings had said that although the JUSUN, is fighting a just course: the battle for financial autonomy for the Judiciary but the timing will spell doom to the country considering the negative impacts of the Asian country of China coronavirus, popular, COVID 19 in the last one year on the economy’’.
Last September, the Nigerian Resident Doctors had begun their second strike of the year over what they consider as ‘ poor’pay and working conditions amid spread of the Pandemic. The strike had involved 16,000 Resident Doctors out of the 42 Doctors in the country. The Doctors at the COVID 19 centres across the country were said to have joined the strike. The Doctors had initially called off the strike after several appeals from well- meaning Nigerians, hoping that the government will respond to their demand but it never did.
This may have informed why the Leadership of , NARD, which many believe represents 40% of Nigerian Medical Doctors had dragged all their members out again on Strike last March over pay and inadequate facilities in government owned Hospitals. NARD had repeatedly threatened to go on strike this year if the government failed to meet their demands that include non-payment of allowances and lack of facilities at state run Hospitals but Osagie Ehanire, the minster of Health and Chris Ngige, a former governor of Anambra state and now now minister of Labour and Productivity, described as Mr. Government Negotiator , never took then serious until it eventually happened.
They were said to have repeatedly drawn the attention of the government and the Health Authorities to the problem of ‘’lack of beds and drugs in the Hospitals as well as inadequate protective kits. This is in addition to approving life insurance Coverage for them, pay rise and payment of other unsettled wages but the Nigerian President may not considered it necessary to do so.
The Doctor’s strike and its adverse effect on the nation’s Health care system may have informed why Akpta, the NBA, President has asked the Judiciary striking workers to reconsider their decision and call off the strike to avoid further damage to the economy that had already being messed up by COVID 19.
The Opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP, believe that the Nigerian President has always Jetted out to the United Kingdom UK, for routine medical check -up as the state owned Hospitals lacked the facilities and drugs. There are indications that between 2016, and now, the 78 year-old President has spent 170 days abroad for treatment.
The most recent of such foreign Medical check-ups on Thursday, March 31, 2021, was the trip to UK even when information had filtered to his ears that the NARD were about to commence a nation-wide strike to protest poor conditions in Nigerian Hospitals again.
The retired army General may have Jetted out to the UK, for his fifth Medical trip as President and Commander –In-Chief , C-In-C, of the Nigerian Armed Forces, thus forcing Nigerians to describe him as the most widely travelled President in the world, when the country’s economy is bleeding.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities,ASUU, may have opened the flood –gate for strikes in Nigeria as it has taken advantage of any situation to embark on strike to force the government on its knees. The ASUU, members have repeatedly thrown the country’s University Education system into disarray without any showing any remorse. For much of last they had forced the Universities to close down which was further enhanced by the COVID 19.
Many believe that theLabour unions may have resorted to the use of strike weapons to resolve issues with the government which may not have started with the Buhari Administration, but worse now.