Strikes adding to Nigeria’s economic crises


Nigeria National Association of Nurses and Midwives strike

from EMEKA OKONKWO in Abuja, Nigeria
Nigeria Bureau
ABUJA, (CAJ News) – A STANDOFF has ensued between the Nigerian government as well as healthcare and tertiary education unions over issues of payment.

A strike initiated by the National Association of Nurses and Midwives is disrupting healthcare services, especially around the restive Kaduna State in the north.

The movement began on Monday this week and is scheduled to continue until Friday.

Other unions in the sector are set to encourage their members to down their stethoscopes and join in the protest.

The workers are demanding a review of their pay structure.

While the strike has affected nursing services, doctors and emergency services remain operational.

An expert forecast the strike action to cause disruptions to healthcare services.

Disruptions are projected to persist following the conclusion of the strike as medical facilities deal with a backlog of patients.

Hospitals, medical facilities and government buildings could be under threat from demonstrators.

Meanwhile, the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) plan to stage nationwide demonstrations on Wednesday this week.

A separate protest is set for the capital, Abuja on Thursday next week.

The unions are demanding the payment of four months’ salary still owed in arrears to union members following failed negotiations with government authorities.

The protests are in line with an indefinite strike that labour leaders had originally announced would begin on July 4.

However, a new strike date will be announced after the demonstrations, if unions deem the workers’ demands remain unmet.

“Clashes with security forces are possible,” warned a security think-tank this week.

The NASU and SSANU said meetings with leaders from ministries of Education as well as Labour had failed to reach a resolution.

“Unfortunately, the engagement with the Minister of Education (Tahir Mamman) has not shown any convincing commitment on the payment of withheld salaries and resolutions of other pending grievances of JAC of the two trade unions” they stated jointly.

JAC is the Joint Actions Committee.

The unions said the Minister of Labour and Employment, Nkeiruka Onyejocha, snubbed a meeting with JAC.

According to the unions, at the time they were supposed to meet, she reportedly had “an urgent call from the (presidential) villa.”

“The Permanent Secretary who stood in for her could not make any commitment on the issues raised,” the disappointed unions stated.

Meanwhile, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) reported that a “shadowy group” was planning protests against it.

It accused the unnamed group of recruiting young Nigerians, including students, to “take up arms” against the EFCC.

“This insidious campaign is being promoted as resistance to the operational activities of the Commission especially in respect of the enforcement of the laws dealing with cybercrimes,” EFCC spokesperson, Dele Oyewale, said.

“As a responsible law enforcement organisation, the Commission will not tolerate any breakdown of law and order anywhere in the country especially around its office locations across Nigeria,” Oyewale added.

Nigeria’s economy has been in a recession in recent months. The country has slipped from being the largest economy to fourth in the continent, behind South Africa, Egypt and Algeria, in that order.

According to the inflation report from the National Bureau of Statistics, Nigeria’s headline inflation continued to rise in April, increasing by 49 basis points to 33,69 percent year-on-year.

“Looking ahead, we expect inflationary pressures to remain elevated in the near term, driven by exchange rate depreciation and persistent supply shocks to the country’s food sector,” FBN Capital forecast.

The International Monetary Fund projects the economy to grow by 3,3 percent in 2024.

– CAJ News

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