Bayo Onanuga, the Special Adviser to the President on Information & Strategy, has stated that the assault on the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Joe Ajaero, in Imo State was a result of his error of judgment.
Onanuga described the incident in Owerri as a personal matter between Ajaero and the state government, questioning why it escalated into a nationwide strike despite a restraining order issued by Justice Benedict Backwash Kanyip of the National Industrial Court.
The presidential aide characterized the actions of the two labor centers as unwarranted ego-tripping, orchestrated to blackmail the government. He expressed confusion over why the NLC and TUC decided to inflict punishment on the entire country of over 200 million people due to a personal matter involving Joe Ajaero, whose error of judgment led to the assault in Owerri while he was planning to incite workers in Imo State into an unnecessary strike.
While emphasizing that the Federal Government does not condone violence or assault on any Nigerian citizen, regardless of their social and economic status, Onanuga disclosed that the Inspector General of Police had ordered an investigation into the incident.
The Commissioner of Police in Imo State, under whose watch the assault occurred, has been transferred out of the state. Onanuga condemned calling for a national strike over a personal issue of a labor leader, especially in light of a clear court order prohibiting any industrial action, as an abuse of privilege.
He stressed that power should not be used to settle personal scores but should be utilized to promote collective progress and advance national interest.
The presidential aide further emphasized that the national economy and social activities should not suffer due to the personal interests of any labor leader. He criticized the flagrant disobedience of the court order and lack of respect for the judiciary, noting that the labor movement has historically championed the rule of law and respect for the judiciary. Onanuga expressed disappointment over the current labor leaders’ disregard and disdain for court orders.
He reiterated that the strike action was illegal, immoral, unjustifiable, and irresponsible. Onanuga argued that the timing of the strike notice, issued after official hours on Monday night, suggested a sinister and hidden agenda to cause undue hardship and civil disturbance in the country.