Blackout as NLC moves to ground activities in Kaduna

Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC)

Barring any last minute change, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) would as from today ground activities in Kaduna State for one week.

There is currently total power blackout in Kaduna while motorists on Sunday thronged petrol stations to fuel their vehicles for fear of fuel scarcity as the five-day warning strike directed by NLC begins.

This is as the joint unions in the Nigerian aviation industry and Nigeria Union of Railway Workers (NUR) threatened to shut down Kaduna International Airport and railway stations in the state.

The NLC had on May 10 said it would ground all activities in the state from May 16, as it begins a warning strike over the irregular sack of civil servants by the state government.

Following the directive, the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) also directed its members to shut down services in Kaduna State from May 16.

Meanwhile, the management of Kaduna Electric said that the current total power blackout in Kaduna was due to the ongoing five-day warning strike embarked upon by labour unions in the state.

Abdulazeez Abdullahi, Head of Corporate Communication of the company, made the announcement in a statement issued on Sunday in Kaduna.

“In compliance with the NLC directive, the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) has knocked off all our 33KV lines in Kaduna State.

“Consequently, we are appealing to all communities, security agencies and vigilante groups to be vigilant so that men of the underworld will not cash in on the situation to vandalise power supply installations.

“Any suspicious movement around distribution sub-stations (transformers) should be reported to the relevant security agency”, he said.

He stated that it is the collective responsibility of citizens to protect critical national assets in their neighborhood.

Abdullahi added that the company appeals to both labour unions and Kaduna State government “to strive at an amicable resolution for normalcy to return”.

Following the strike, motorists were forced into panic buying of fuel in preparation for the five-day warning strike.

Petrol stations in some parts of the metropolis had long queues.

Residents were also seen with containers of different sizes at different petrol stations struggling to buy the product.

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Some of the petrol stations visited were A. M. Yola Petrol Station, Katsina Road; Mobil Petrol Station, Waff Road; A. Y. M Ashafa Petrol Station, Ahmadu Bello Way; Edi-Jen Petrol Station, Ahmadu Bello Way, among others.

Mr. James Audu, one of the motorists at A. M. Yola Filling Station, Katsina Road, said he decided to fill his vehicle tank out of fear that filling stations may not operate from today.

“You are aware that NLC is commencing a five-day warning strike in Kaduna State from Monday and you know how critical petrol is to our movement and survival.

“I am here to fill my vehicle tank and a 25-litre container for my generator at home to ensure power supply during the strike days as electricity supply had already been suspended,” he said.

Another motorists, Mr. Ibrahim Rasheed, also said that the panic buying of the essential product was necessary to keep businesses going during the strike.

“I am a fashion designer and need power to work. Already electricity supply has been suspended, meaning that people like us will have to resort to generator and that cannot happen without fuel,” he said.

The Station Manager, Mr. Rayyanu Ahmad, said that they are selling the product because he was yet to receive official directive from the union to suspend services.

“But I assure you we will close down as soon as I receive directive to do so, may be later in the day.

“It will be painful for everyone but we hope for a positive response from the state government at the end of the warning strike,” Ahmad said.

Aviation and railway unions have also threatened to withdraw their services.

A letter written by the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE) signed by Comrade Alo Lawrence for the General Secretary, dated May 11, 2021 and obtained by newsmen indicated that the warning strike would last for one week.

Besides, three major unions in the Nigerian aviation industry, the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals (ANAP), and the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) have informed the management of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) of its decision to shut down activities at the Kaduna airport following the directive of the NLC.

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The letter, which was dated May 14, 2021 with the title, ‘Notice of Strike Action at Kaduna Airport,’ was jointly signed by Comrades Ocheme Aba, Abdul Rasaq Saidu and Umoh Ofonime, the General Secretaries of NUATE, ANAP and NAAPE, respectively.

The letter stated that the unions had directed all workers at the airport to withdraw all services within the stipulated period, threatening that there would be no operations of any kind into, at or out of the airport within the period.

Also, Nigeria Union of Railway Workers (NUR) in its circular to its members in Kaduna State, dated May 11, 2021, and signed by Comrade Segun Esan, its General Secretary, said that the decision to engage in mass industrial action against Kaduna State government was considered and ratified in the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the congress, held on Thursday, April 22, 2021 in Abuja.

Esan stated that the industrial action was necessary following the mass sack and casualisation of over 60 percent of the workforce in the state’s civil and public services by the government.

Meanwhile, Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State on Sunday in a tweet while responding to a post made by @PDPVanguard – a platform dedicated to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), chided NLC over failure to implement the National Minimum Wage Act, 2019 for its employees.

PDP Vanguard – @PDPVanguard had tweeted: “Mother of all Labour strikes: The tyrannical @elrufai’s led govt threatens to arrest NLC President, Comrade Wabba.”

El-Rufai via his handle @elrufai responded: “FATHERS OF ALL HYPOCRITES: Kaduna will wait for you all – the invisible PDP & affiliates like the hypocritical NLC that is yet to implement the National Minimum Wage Act, 2019 for its own employees.”

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