Upon the sack of 400 workers, and the continuous darkness that has plagued the country, youths and workers led by NUEE, FIWON, Citizens Access to Electricity Initiatives (CATEIN), and Youths Against Austerity (YAA) picketed the Alausa head office of the IKEJA DISCOS for 5 days. The Monday opening picketers paralysed activities at the office with solidarity songs, agitations and artful parades that even attracted the solidarity of some of police officers at the DISCO.
The few workers at the office were warned by speakers to solidarise with their sacked colleagues as “an injury to one is an injury to all”. The picketing continued the next day quite early and more militantly. A mass part of the picketers moved at noon to the State House of Assembly with radical chants of “ole!” at chorused names of Fasola, Buhari and others. This forced the speaker-Mudashiru Obasa and 3 other members to come out.
Spelling out three-fold demands: the unconditional reinstatement of the sacked workers; our refusal to pay for darkness and illegally hiked tariff; plus the stance against hike in petrol price and austerity measures which only worsens the already cruel hardship of the masses, Comrade Gbenga Komolafe of FIWON addressed the speakers’ team to the thunderous applause of the protesters.
The Speaker responded that the house is equally affected by the electricity crisis. He then said that the house supports the agitation but has less or no power to act except to help forward petitions to the right quarters.
The protesters returned to the picket line, held a congress and proceeded to Ikeja Underbridge, educating the public on the rejecting the crazy bill, and self-enforcing the subsisting court order Justice Idris of the Ikeja high court which has ordered the illegal bills. At the Underbridge, many Lagosians joined the protests. 10 copies of Socialist Worker were bought at the Underbridge alone, with 5 young shop assistants contributing 20 naira each to get a copy!
Wednesday continued with the same tempo. More congresses were addressed by workers leaders like Segun Esan,the General Secretary of the railway workers’ union (NUR). On Thursday, the protest got to its peak with protest action taken to Maryland from Ikeja in such large procession that prompted the intervention of the Minister of Labour. The actions have been suspended, but give a glimpse of some of the battles we will have to fight in the coming period and that we can mobilise to wage these.
by Kunle Wizman Ajayi