By Ononye VC
The leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Wednesday directed all workers to picket all the offices of the Central Bank of Nigeria nationwide starting from next week over the current cash crunch in the country.
The NLC president, Joe Ajaero, gave the directive at an ongoing press briefing at the Labour House in Abuja.
He said the directive became imperative following the expiration of the one-week ultimatum given to the apex bank to make cash available for Nigerians.
Ajaero explained that the union took the decision when it noticed that the situation appeared to be getting worse despite the Supreme Court order allowing the old ₦500 and ₦1000 notes to circulate with the new notes till December 31 this year.
The Daily Trust reports that the NLC, last week Monday, after its Central Working Committee emergency meeting, issued a 7-day ultimatum to the federal government to address the current issue of fuel and naira scarcity in the country.
Giving an update about the ultimatum at the briefing at the Labour House, Ajaero said workers could no longer access cash to pay fares to their respective workplaces, neither could they buy food for their families.
He said: “Last week at the end of our CWC meeting, we gave a one-week ultimatum for the federal government to address immediately, among other issues, [the] issue of cash crunch that was caused by the policy. As at this morning when the CWC met again to review the situation, we discovered that not much improvement has been made.
“The situation is still almost the same. People are still buying our currency with our currencies. People can no longer have access to the currency and the government seems to be very adamant on this. No moves have been made to reduce the suffering of Nigerians.
“Consequently, the CWC in session resolved to go into the process of actualising the one week notice. From Friday, there will be mobilisation of all state councils through a NEC meeting. All unions have already been directed to mobilise all their organs and their branches.
“By Wednesday next week, all Central Bank of Nigeria offices nationwide will be picketed. All central banks from the CBN headquarters will be shut till further notice. Workers are directed to stay at home and join in the picketing exercise.
“We call on Nigerians to understand the circumstances we’re operating in. People will be telling you about the political situation. The political situation is self-inflicted and the economic situation is worse than the political situation because people cannot eat.”
The labour leader described the proposed demonstration as “total”, saying the workers have been pushed to the wall.
He added: “Workers can no longer go to office and nothing is happening. So we have been pushed to the wall having given one week and we thought they could address the situation, which is not addressed.
“We have decided to take our destiny in our hands. So comrades, the mobilisation commences immediately and when we talk of action from Wednesday, it’s total! Until further notice!”
The labour leader, while answering the Daily Trust’s enquiry about the issue of lingering fuel scarcity, said the issue of cash crunch takes top priority because it affects every Nigerian, adding that it would be looked into.