Two union leaders were killed on Monday during a violent attack on a train headed to north-central Kaduna from Nigeria’s capital, Abuja. Musa-Lawal Ozigi, secretary-general of the Nigeria Trade Union Congress (TUC), and Akin Akinsola, chairman of TUC-Kwara State, are two of at least eight people left dead. Dozens were wounded while an unknown number of those who were abducted remain missing.
“[N]owhere is safe now—we cannot travel by air; the road is not safe and neither is the rail. Is Nigeria a failed state?” said TUC President Quadri Olaleye.
The TUC–one of two major labor federations in the country—together with other labor groups and pro-poor and pro-democracy organizations are engaged in a transformative governance campaign to better protect citizens’ security and access to adequate public services and civil and labor rights. In Nigeria, 93 percent of working people toil in the informal economy for low wages, unprotected by labor law and without social services such as pensions and healthcare.
Together with other labor groups, the TUC and its affiliates are engaged in Solidarity Center-supported campaigns for legal recognition of app-based workers to improve their wages, working conditions and safety, and ratification of ILO Convention 190 to prevent and address gender-based violence and harassment in the world of work (GBVH).
Nigeria’s unions are familiar with challenges posed by violence in the country. In northern Borno state—where an uneasy but relative peace following more than a decade of violence has left over 7.5 million people still in need of humanitarian assistance—unions have played a key role in supporting their members, including returning teachers, healthcare workers and civil servants.
“The loss of Secretary General Musa-Lawal Ozigi and TUC-Kwara State Chairman Akin Akinsola is a severe blow to unions’ efforts to protect the interests and welfare of Nigeria’s working people,” said Solidarity Center Africa Regional Program Director Christopher Johnson.