The Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) embarked on a warning industrial action about four months ago, precisely April 2021. About two months later, the leadership of JUSUN called off the strike after ostensibly extracting some commitments from both the federal and state governments.
A visit to the judiciary in all the states of the federation showed that nothing has changed. There is no iota of change from the status quo ante bellum before the strike began in April. Everything has remained the same. What then did JUSUN gain from the two months industrial action which entailed downing of tools? There is yet no autonomy for the judiciary at every level, particularly at state level. The old ways of doing things are still very much prevalent.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) embarked on an almost one-year strike in 2020 and extracted some commitments and takeaways from the government before it called off its strike. Even though the government had, allegedly, reneged on its obligations on some of those commitments or demands, ASUU got something tangible from last year’s strike. I learned that ASUU has embarked or is about to down tools again to press for the implementation of these remnant demands.
The National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) is currently on strike nationwide. Before NARD calls off its action, it will definitely achieve the implementation of some demands from the government.
In the case of JUSUN, it embarked on a justifiable strike and called it off without any tangible commitment from the government for the implementation of its demands. JUSUN should exploit this opportunity of gale of strike actions to extract a strong commitment from the government.
The judiciary at the state level ought to be autonomous. Without justice, every other thing in human existence crumbles. JUSUN should commence immediate strike without further delay now that ASUU, NARD and some other industrial unions are on strike. Let the government negotiate with every essential union’s demands at the same time. JUSUN should be reminded that if no further strike takes place this year, it cannot go on any next year.
By 2022, electioneering activities will commence in earnest. Litigation will be flying from left, right and centre. JUSUN must not go on strike next year so as not to give excuses to politicians to exploit the situation. The current political office occupants may exploit any strike from JUSUN next year to sit tight in office. The time to extract an implementation of some of JUSUN’s demands is now.
Ikenga Odogwu lives from Abuja.