The month of April, 2021 will go down in history as the month three key unions in Nigeria namely: National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP), and the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) downed tools, to press home better condition of service from the government. The striking workers, according to their various leaders are seeking for immediate payment implementations of agreement reached between them and government they claimed had been ignored for many years running. One remarkable thing was that the President, Commander- in-chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari travelled on the eve of Thursday, April 1st the very day the National Association of Resident Doctors, concluded plans which were made public to embark on Nation-wide strike which eventually happened and stretched for almost two weeks. NARD said the strike was for its member’s welfare, non-review of hazard allowances and salaries amongst other pressing demands bothering the Association.
During the strike, millions of Nigerians across the country could not access medical facilities as many suffered untold hardship. Those who could not withstand the pressure unfortunately paid the supreme price. One striking thing is that the Minister of Labour and Eployment, Dr. Chris Ngige is a medical doctor and how he was unable to broker truce between his ministry and the Resident Doctors beat imaginations given the precarious health situation in the country already. ASUP demands had to do with non-inauguration of governing council, non-release of Needs Assessment since 2014, establishment of National Polytechnic Commission, and again promotion arears for 2008, 2019 and 2020, IPPIS (third party reduction), and other sundry demands it claimed the government had turned deaf ears for a very long time. For the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN). The union wants the Federal government to implement the financial autonomy of the judiciary following a circular issued on April 1 that threatened to close the courts from April 5, 2021. For a country like Nigeria whose economy is still battling with the corona virus pandemic to allow three key unions to stage a strike almost at the same time, even if it is just for one day, speaks volume of how the government cares about the wellbeing of the people.
The claims of the unions to say the least are genuine, may be its coming at a time the economy is in comatose may have been the argument here, but the worry however is how government derives joy from avoidable situations especially the present day government that came to power on the prism of ‘change’ slogan. The leadership of NARD particularly blamed the Federal government for allowing the strike to take place in the first place, even as ASUP and JUSUN also said that, the Ministry of Labour and Employment holds the knife and the yam as they are ready to go full length with the ministry until their demands are met. They also made it clear that the threat of no work no pay clause hitherto threatened by the minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige according to them was diversionary from the real issue of good condition of service everyone is yearning for.
Meanwhile, the happenings in the country in which Nigeria everyday appears uncertain owing to security challenge in all intent calls for caution from the leaders and the led. The idea of waiting for government workers to carry placards to demand for what is rightfully theirs is old fashioned if indeed the country is serious about democratic governance as we have it today. Such idea going forward should not be curried at all given the myriads of problems the country is currently grappling with. For three unions to embark on a strike simultaneously especially now Nigeria, apart from coming out of recession, is still battling with global pandemic is not a good story, not only for the image of the country but also makes mockery of our collective efforts.