Residents of the southeast have vehemently frowned at the strike action embarked upon by the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) necessitated by the demolition of a fuel station in Imo, on the directive of Governor Hope Uzodinma.
Recall that NUPENG declared the strike in Imo alone over Uzodinma’s refusal to compensate a marketer, whose station was demolished in Orlu by former governor Rochas Okorocha. It said despite a court order asking the state to compensate the marketer, he was ignored, adding that Uzodinma had appealed the judgment instead.
Uzodinma was said to have asked residents of Imo to source for petroleum products in neighboring states, challenging NUPENG to go ahead with its strike.
Based on the Uzodinma-led government’s statement challenging the union, it extended its earlier strike action imposed only in Imo to Enugu, Anambra, Ebonyi and Abia, excluding Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, which shares a border with Imo.
The people of the Southeast have condemned the strike action, lamenting that some of the southeastern states like Enugu and Ebonyi, that do not have boundaries with Imo, were included in the ongoing strike action.
The people, who spoke to some journalists during a monitoring tour described the refusal of the union to declare its strike in Rivers State as marginalization of the easterners aimed at subjecting the people of the region to untold economic hardship.
In a chat with journalists on Tuesday, a barber on Ogbuii road in Enugu State, Ogbonna Chukwuebuka, wondered why NUPENG could impose such a strike action in the east, while excluding Rivers.
He reiterated that action of the union was a marginalization of the region, describing it as a plot to cripple the economy of the easterners, and as well, to frustrate people in sourcing fuel products for domestic and commercial usage.
This is a wicked action by NUPENG against the people of the southeast. There is no place to get fuel. Our businesses have gone down, because we cannot rely on EEDC lights, they are not constant in their supply of electricity. We rely on fuel to work and make our daily income. The restriction of the strike action only in the east must be called off urgently to save lives and properties of the people of the zone,” he said.
“We call on Governor Uzodinma and the petroleum Union to embrace a roundtable dialogue urgently so as to down tools in the ongoing strike action which has dealt badly to us, in our sake to survive economically, and feed our families”.
Lending their respective voices on what it viewed as marginalization over restriction of the ongoing strike action in southeast part of Nigeria, Mr. Nwogu Celestine, a commercial driver and Mrs Carol Nwabuisi, a provision shop owner, and Chigozie Wisdom called on the leadership of NUPENG and Imo state government to embrace dialogue to quell the suffering faced by the people and residents of the southeast Nigeria in sourcing for fuel products.
This is clear marginalization and economic sabotage to the survival of the people of the eastern region, leaving fuel stations in south south states like Rivers, to operate without extension of the strike action.
As we are talking, filling stations in the south south like Rivers and others that share the same boundaries with Imo state are fully operating and selling products while our people in the east are facing hardship to get fuel for domestic and commercial usage.”
Reiterating, they said, “It is a clear manifestation of marginalization of the wicked order, making people suffer in getting fuel to work and feed their families. We are urging NUPENG to save lives by calling off the strike action in the east. It is evil to exempt Rivers state in south south having common boundaries with Imo to operate. This clear manifestation of marginalization of the southeast.”