Cash Crunch: NLC Reveals Reason for Suspended Strike

The Chairman of the Nigerian Labour Congress, Comrade Joe Ajaero has stated that the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN has made significant efforts to curb the current Cash scarcity in the country and thus to some extent complied with the demands of the National Executive Committee hence it called off its proposed strike.

In a statement on Thursday, Comrade Ajaero disclosed that the leadership of NLC met with the management of the Central Bank of Nigeria last week which resulted in banks embarking on operations on Saturdays and Sundays.

It, however, observed that the rural areas still experience cash scarcity and revealed that a Joint Committee was set up at the National and State Levels to monitor and ensure sustainable compliance by the CBN towards ending the Cash crunch and removing the siege on Nigerians.

The full statement reads, ‘It has become important that we inform Nigerians through this medium of the reasons behind our decision to suspend the proposed nationwide strike and picketing of the
Headquarters and offices of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) across the nation.

Recall that we called for the strike based on the unfortunate, ill-conceived and poorly executed Currency redesign policy of the CBN which had brought untold suffering to the people and workers across the length and breadth of the federation. The situation had degenerated to the extent that citizens were forced to spend on average about 30% of their income to access their hard-earned cash leading to the emergence of a trade by barter as an option in some communities around the nation.

It was these objective realities and the seeming reluctance of the federal government through
its institutions especially the CBN to take steps to end the ensuing mass misery that compelled us to issue the ultimatum to assist the government to act more responsibly and ease the burden on Nigerians.
Subsequently, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) immediately engaged us, and we demanded that certain measures be taken to make cash available to all Nigerians. Some of these measures were our insistence on Saturday and Sunday full banking services until a healthy cash situation is restored and the expansion and deepening of their sorting and issuing operations to release Cash to all Bank branches across the nation.
The NLC had since then held two sessions of Its NEC to discuss the issues and review the level of compliance with our demands by the CBN to make Cash available to Nigerians wherever they may be located in the country. In our meeting yesterday, Tuesday the 28th day of March 2023 NEC received live reports from all the states of the federation and local governments on the Cash situation in their respective locations.
On the weight of the reports received, NEC made the following observations:

that the CBN has made significant efforts to curb the current Cash scarcity in
the country thus to some extent complied with the demands of NEC

2.   that Many Banks have embarked on the Weekend Banking as agreed though some Bank branches remained shut to the Public

3.   that availability of Cash has noticeably improved in the major urban centres in Nigeria.

4.   that however in rural communities and towns Cash scarcity seemingly persists to some degrees

5.   that Banks have however continued to ration access to cash thus limiting financial transactions

6.   that it does appear that normalcy has not completely been restored as long queues are still visible to allow cash flow seamlessly as before the unfortunate policy

 As a function of the reports received, and in collaboration with the TUC who also had their NEC to discuss the same issues; we resolved as follows:

1.   to suspend the proposed nation wide strike planned for today, Wednesday the 29th of March, 2023.since there is significant improvement in the availability of Cash across the nation.

2.   that meanwhile, the CBN should ensure that total normalcy is restored to cash availability within the nation in the next two weeks

3.   that NLC will embark on nation – wide strike without warning if the Cash situation degenerates instead of returning to normalcy.

4.   Finally, we set up a Joint Committee at the National and State Levels to monitor and ensure sustainable compliance by the CBN towards ending the Cash crunch and removing the siege on Nigerians.

These were some of the bases upon which our decisions rested and follow-up action to ensure that CBN remains compliant and not renege on the agreed path towards the restoration of normalcy in the cash situation.

We want to assure Nigerians that though there are other critical issues confronting us as a people, we are continuously committed to making sure that we roll back all anti-workers and peoples policies of the government.

Once again we call for the continued support of all Nigerians to ensure that we rescue ourselves from actions that are designed to emasculate us both as workers and as a people. It is only by working together that we can guarantee our collective safety and interests as a people.

Comrade Joe Ajaero


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