Where a government founded on the pillars of the rule of law under known principles of democracy, decides to abandon the constituents that make up the country and pursues its own agenda for whatever reasons it deems fit, the same government should not turn around to blame the people for flouting laws and disobeying constituted authorities, if the people decide to express themselves in their own way to drive their message home to the political leaders to respect the rights and privileges of the citizens and adhere to the social contract they signed with the people.
Writing on the importance of the rule of law and good governance, Professor F.C. Nwoke, a professor of law of the University of Jos, Nigeria, in a compendium of articles on “Rule of Law and Good Governance”, published by Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS) in 2009, has this to say: “The Rule of Law constitutes one of the focal points of democracy and good governance because no state exists without it and adherence to the tenets of the fundamental law of the land, the Constitution”.
According to Nwoke, “peace, good governance, security, prosperity and social justice rest on the twin concepts of constitutionalism and the rule of law”.
It is the absence or mismanagement of these fundamental principles of governance by successive governments in Nigeria that has always caused frictions between the government officials and organised labour and civil society organisations in the country.
In this instance, government suddenly removed subsidy in electricity and petroleum products and hiked the tariffs and prices in the middle of Covid=19 pandemic, that is still ravaging Nigeria and the rest of the world with the attendant hardship on the people, and then labour, civil society organisations and indeed many Nigerians reacted and asked the government to reverse its action because as they claimed, it was ill-timed and capable of worsening the hardship on the people.
But the government up to this early morning was still insisting that there was no better time to remove the subsidy of the products in contention than now. It went further to obtain court orders from the National Industrial Court to stop labour from embarking on the strike, insisting that the strike will bring more hardship on the people labour is trying to help.
Therefore labour, comprising the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, the Trade Union Congress, TUC, and all their affiliates, including the private companies’ workers’ unions and of course, the CSOs: the civil society organisations, were left with no other options than to call their members out for the strike action.
It was on the strength of this debacle the Judiciary and Aviation unions have joined by shutting down their areas of operation at 12 am on Monday. Staff of the Federal High Court across the country indicated their intention already to commence a two-week strike today, September 28, 2020.
In a notice, circulated in and around the Federal High Court headquarters building in Abuja, the court staff, under the aegis of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), said they were abandoning their duties in line with the industrial action planned by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) to begin on Monday.
NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) have indicated their intention to embark on an industrial action in protest of the recent increases in the prices of electricity and petroleum products.
The notice reads: “Please be informed that the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), Federal High Court chapter shall, in collaboration with the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), commence a two-week indefinite strike action from Monday the 28th day of September 2020.
“All offices shall remain closed within this period. You are required to comply.”
Also the aviation unions in their own communication said that barring any last minute resolution of the planned nationwide strike organised by labour against the increase in the electricity tariffs and the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) also known as petrol , aviation union members have been put on alert to join the planned strike.
As a result, NLC and TUC have continued to mobilise their members for the nationwide strike.
The aviation unions made up of Air Transport Senior Staff Services Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), National Association of Aircraft Pilots Association (NAAPE), Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals (ANAP), said this in a joint statement at the weekend.
The unions stated that they would shut down the nation’s airspace as directed by their national bodies.
“Our unions are in full support of the strike as such all workers in the aviation sector are hereby directed to withdraw their services at all aerodromes nationwide as from 00hrs of 28th September 2020 until otherwise communicated by the NLC/TUC,” the statement read.
With the four main unions agreeing to support and carry out the directive of the national bodies, what this means is that the airspace will be closed for flight operations beginning from today, Monday , September 28,2020.
Organised Labour and the Federal Government have held on to their respective positions on the recent increase in the pump price of petrol and electricity tariff at the meeting convened by the government to find a way out of the strike fixed for today.
Labour on its part maintained that government must reverse the increments to abort the strike, the Secretary to Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, also maintained that the deregulation of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry that necessitated the fuel price increase should stand, adding that deregulation of the petroleum sector was long overdue.
On September 25,2000 the Federal Government secured a fresh order from the National Industrial Court stopping the NLC and the TUC from embarking on their planned strike.
Justice Ibrahim Galadima of the National Industrial Court in Abuja on Friday issued a fresh restraining order against the organised labour, following an ex parte application by the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation.
The same judge had earlier made a similar restraining ex parte order in favour of a group, Peace and Unity Ambassadors Association, on Thursday, September 24,2020. The judge, sitting as a vacation judge, ordered that both the NLC and the TUC joined as the defendants in the suit should be served with the fresh court order within seven days from Friday.But the president of NLC, Ayuba Waba said as at 12 am today that his union has not been served with any order of the Industrial Court thereby making it pertinent for them to proceed on the planned strike.