The nationwide strike initiated Wednesday by the Nigeria Labour Congress was partially successful in Uyo, the capital of Akwa Ibom State.
The gates of the state secretariat, Idongesit Nkanga Secretariat, along Ibrahim Babangida Avenue, Uyo, remained closed as at 8am when civil servants turned up for work.
The labour officials positioned at the entrance of the secretariat barred workers from entering.
The state judiciary headquarters at Wellington Bassey Way, few metres away from the Akwa Ibom Government House, was completely shut down. None of the courts sat for the day.
But at the state ministry of works, almost opposite the judiciary headquarters, civil servants were going about their normal duties when PREMIUM TIMES reporter visited the premises.
Emmanuel Robinson, an ex-officio member of the NLC, Akwa Ibom State, who led the NLC team around Uyo capital city to ensure that workers stayed off their offices, told PREMIUM TIMES that the Commissioner for Works, Ephraim Inyang, assured them that he was going to direct workers in his ministry to close their offices for the day.
At the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital, at Abak Road, Uyo, there was no sign of an industrial action, as doctors and other health workers went about their job peacefully. There was no sight of NLC officials within the UUTH premises.
A security officer at the UUTH gate told this newspaper that NLC officials visited the hospital in the morning, but that their visit did not disrupt activities within the facility.
At the federal secretariat, still along Abak Road, a confused pain cloth security guard was about opening the gate for the car conveying a PREMIUM TIMES’ reporter to drive in, but was prevented by an officer with the Nigeria Civil Defence Corps.
The gun-wielding officer politely said that people were not allowed into the secretariat premises because of the NLC strike.
By about 11am, two blue-colour pick-up trucks belonging to the Department of State Service were stationed in front of the Indongesit Nkanga Secretariat.
The Chief Security Officer to Governor Udom Emmanuel, O. Humphrey, led other security officers to force the gate of the secretariat open.
“Those that want to work should go in and work, those that want to protest can stay outside and protest. We don’t want any protest inside (the secretariat),” Mr. Humphrey told the labour officials who by now had moved closer to him to find out what he was up to.
“When you are on strike you don’t protest, you give order to your members. Those who want to follow you, they will follow you. Those who don’t obey you, you find a way to sanction them.
“By the time you start preventing people (from entering), you are applying force.
“This is state secretariat. The governor said nobody should prevent anybody from entering the secretariat.”
The ex-officio member of the NLC in the state, Mr. Robinson, who spoke on behalf of other labour officials, told the CSO that they only listen to instructions from the national leadership of the union at Abuja, and not from anybody in the state.
The arrival of Unyime Usoro, a former chairman of NLC in the state, interrupted the dialogue, as the labour officials, buoyed by Mr. Usoro’s arrival, rushed towards him and started chanting solidarity songs.
Mr. Usoro told them to discontinue with the strike, since they have had “enough for the day.”
“At least, we have sent signal to (Joe) Ajero-led faction and the TUC that without them we can still do it,” said Mr. Usoro, who is currently the Honorary Special Adviser on Labour Matters to Governor Emmanuel.
Usoro was accompanied to the meeting by Ekpenyong Enyinna, the governor’s Special Adviser on Labour and Productivity.
Mr. Enyinna, while addressing the labour officials told them that the NLC strike didn’t hold in Lagos, Abuja, Cross River, and Rivers states, and that the labour shouldn’t allow their action to be a taint on the “clean image” of the state governor.
He said even though people weren’t pleased with the hike in the price of fuel, that it was only Lagos and Abuja that people really enjoyed the previous price of N86 per littre of fuel.
“Here (in Akwa Ibom), fuel was being sold at between N100 and N120. We weren’t enjoying any subsidy.”
By 12: 30pm, the NLC chairman in Akwa Ibom, Etim Ukpong was said to be in Abuja where he had gone to attain a meeting with the national leadership of labour.