Nigeria: Strikes Too Many

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.

President Muhammadu Buhari

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.

A Locked Federal High Court In Abuja Due To Judiciary Strike

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.

Ehamire: Minister Of Health

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.

Akpata:, SAN, NBA President

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.

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