Benin City shuts down as NLC strike takes effect

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) strike was a success in Benin City, the capital of Edo State, as workers closed down public schools, government offices, courts, some banks, and other public places on Wednesday. The strike was to protest against the increase in fuel prices and electricity tariffs by the federal government.

The High Court Complex was locked, and litigants were left stranded at the gates. A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Afolabi Olayiwola, who was denied access to the court, said the strike showed a failure of the system. He said he was surprised that the judiciary workers disobeyed a court order that restrained the strike and urged for a peaceful resolution of the issues.

The Benin Airport was operational as planes landed and took off in the morning and travellers boarded their flights to various destinations.

Customers were frustrated as banks along Akpakpava, Mission Roads, Forestry, and other areas were shut down and only a few ATMs dispensed cash.

Students of government schools in the GRA were seen wandering around their schools as they could not enter. A security officer at NPDC said only essential workers were allowed on the premises, and the rest of the staff joined the strike.

The local government secretariats of Oredo, Egor, and others in Benin City also complied with the strike as workers gathered outside the councils’ premises.

The strike also affected the academic activities of some universities in the state. The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, Ambrose Alli University (AAU) Ekpoma branch, directed its members to follow the NLC directives. However, some activities were still going on inside the campus as the students prepared for their computer-based tests (CBT), and some offices were open.

The Congress of Nigeria University Academics (CONUA), University of Benin (UNIBEN) Chapter, however, dissociated itself from the strike, saying it was a “one-man decision”. The Chairman of the Uniben CONUA, Comrade Ishaq Osagie-Eweka, said that CONUA was not an affiliate of the NLC and asked its members to go about their lawful duties for the benefit of the students. He said the strike was a result of an “ill-conceived protest” in Imo State that led to an alleged attack on the NLC president. He also praised the administration of the Vice Chancellor of the University of Benin for aligning with the union’s objectives of having a smooth academic calendar in the school.

The state secretariat of the NLC was supervised by the chairman of the Edo Chapter of the NLC, Odion Olaye, who ensured that members adhered to the strike order. The strike was expected to last for two days until the federal government met the demands of the workers.

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