NLC Responds to Akpabio’s ‘Economic Sabotage’ Accusation

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By Milcah Tanimu

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has refuted Senate President Godswill Akpabio’s claims that the recent indefinite nationwide strike constitutes economic sabotage. The strike, organized by the NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), began on June 3 in response to the federal government’s refusal to finalize national minimum wage negotiations, reverse electricity tariff hikes, and end discriminatory consumer classifications.

The NLC argued that the strike is a lawful expression of the frustrations faced by Nigerian workers due to economic hardships and poor working conditions. They described Akpabio’s allegations as baseless and troubling for advocates of democracy.

In a statement released on Wednesday by NLC Head of Information and Public Affairs, Benson Upah, the organization emphasized the democratic principles that should guide the Senate’s actions and pronouncements. The statement noted that strikes are legal, a civic duty, and a critical tool for holding those in power accountable. It argued that such actions are essential for preventing dictatorship and social collapse.

“For the past 25 years, the political elite have willfully sabotaged Nigeria through acts of corruption and abuse of power, not the workers. The true economic saboteurs are those looting national resources, not the labour force,” the NLC stated.

The NLC called on patriotic members of the Senate and the House of Representatives to distance themselves from Akpabio’s remarks. They asserted that Nigerian workers have the constitutional right to strike in response to unfair labor practices, and the NLC and TUC have exercised this right lawfully.

The statement highlighted that economic issues prompting the strike, such as electricity tariff hikes and unfair consumer classifications, exacerbate poverty and inequality, from which the political elite are insulated. The NLC vowed to continue advocating for fair economic policies and a realistic national minimum wage.

“Labor unions played a crucial role in restoring democracy to Nigeria, from which current lawmakers benefit; therefore, they will not sabotage it,” the NLC said. They called on government representatives to address the underlying issues leading to the strike through constructive dialogue and genuine efforts to improve living standards instead of engaging in unproductive criticism.

The NLC also criticized the Senate President’s subtle threat to move into Executive Session to address the strike issue, viewing it as contempt for open and transparent debate, which should be the foundation of parliamentary proceedings.

“As he goes into the ‘coven,’ the Senate President should realize that the right to strike is now settled by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), despite Senator Lalong as Minister of Labour voting against it,” the NLC stated. They urged Akpabio to remember his role as President of the Senate, not as Chairman of the Supreme Military Council of Nigeria.

The NLC reaffirmed their commitment to dialogue with the government for sustainable solutions benefiting all Nigerians and called for proactive interventions to prevent anti-worker policies. They warned that any attempt to undermine legitimate labor actions would be unacceptable, emphasizing their readiness to resist any efforts to militarize the dispute.


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