Home Columns The Cyclic Phenomenon of Workers Strikes and Government Intransigence

The Cyclic Phenomenon of Workers Strikes and Government Intransigence

by admin
0 comment

Ahmed Yahaya – Joe

The gradual return of Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) is why Labour is fighting a lost battle in Kaduna. As far as I am concerned SAP prescriptions happen whenever there are fiscal imbalances mostly due to elite overconsumption as government revenues from the Federation Account dip.

The recurring decimal of the way out is by taking out more foreign loans by rescheduling older ones. These often comes with conditionalities that include steep rise in the cost of government services like hospital and school fees, cutting government spending by retrenchment, eliminating subsidies and further privatization, more commercialization including selling off government properties. These measures do not often include reduction in the cost of governance and maintaining the upscale lifestyle of the political leaders.

These days of another SAP, the cliché of “This generation of Nigerians, and indeed future generations, have no country other than Nigeria. We shall remain here and salvage it together” has not only become worn out but outlived its usefulness. Does Mr. President remember ever saying that at the conclusion of his maiden address on January 1, 1984?

The chief claim of the Kaduna State Government (KDSG) against the ongoing 5-day warning strike is that the wages and emoluments of its civil service gulps over 90% of the proceeds from the Federation Account. How true is this claim? The onus of disprove obviously lies with the Labour leaders.

Are the good people of Kaduna State even aware of the quantum of loans procured on their behalf?

Agreed, there are mega projects ongoing; how evenly distributed are these across the state’s zones? It is blatantly obvious that the rural areas of Kaduna are still suffering from a state of infrastructure nightmare.

How many of us remember the SAP riots? The immediate cause was a purported May 1989 Ebony magazine edition said to have contained embarrassing details on IBB’s personal fortunes. The background was however widespread cynicism.

Nigerians had had enough and the center could no longer hold. Things just spiralled out control when Nigerians became so overstretched beyond the elastic limit.

The social critic and educationalist, Augustus Taiwo Solarin (1922- 1994) was the scapegoat NTA beamed. Confronted with the said publication, a faceless interrogator cynically asking, “Dr. Solarin, if I was your student and I did what you just did, will you award me an A, B, C or F?”

After his public humiliation, the man we assumed to be a sage, Tai Solarin would be appointed by the same IBB as the pioneer chairman of the now rested government owned People’s Bank.

How a supposedly principled individual known for his longstanding stance against the hypocrisy and vulgarity of Nigeria’s ruling classes on behalf of the disenchanted and indeed disenfranchised masses would trade his hard won reputation and accept a political appointment from “Maradona” still beats my imagination.

The worst was still yet to come when the aging Tai exchanged his khaki shorts for agbada. That notwithstanding Tai Solarin remains one of Nigeria’s most outstanding essayists. My personal favorite is dated January 1, 1964 entitled “May Your Road Be Rough.”

The remote cause of the SAP riots of May 1989 were the events that culminated in the nationwide electricity shutdown of 1988. The IBB led junta had been planning a removal of petrol subsidy, anticipating a labour blowback deliberate crisis was instigated within the very ranks of the NLC leadership ably assisted by agent provocateurs from the notorious Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI)

Predictably, it led to fractionalization. The federal government reacted by dissolving the National Exco of NLC proscribing all state councils on March 1 and 13, 1988 respectively.

By April 10 increases were made to the prices of petroleum products. ASUU back then not being an NLC affiliate went on strike with electricity going off for 3 days across Nigeria.

To show case opposition against him was mainly Southern based, IBB chose to test his popularity outside Lagos as a local champion of the North by attending Friday prayers in Kaduna. The ruse backfired as a fracas ensued instead – the pangs of poverty are no respecters of origin.

Anyway, 85 persons were arrested at the Sultan Bello Mosque but released without charges on June 10, 1988. The 11 NEPA staff however remained behind bars till November 12, 1990. The prices of petroleum products were not reversed. End of story!

The Kaduna and indeed Nigerian masses in general should beware. Each time you see Labour leaders chanting solidarity songs a betrayal is at hand. The more things change the more they remain exactly the same. The antics of Labour leaders will never change.

Nigerians should discern that the IBBs of yesteryears are the El Rufais of today using the same modus operandi. Nigerian elites are so adept at constantly reinventing themselves. Somehow the joke is always on the masses.

Workers will always temporarily have their say through strikes but government eventually ends up having its way.

Solidarity Ni, solidarity Ko!

You may also like

Leave a Comment

Update Required Flash plugin