NLC Insists On Wednesday Strike, Mobilises Workers
The Nigeria Labour Congress has commenced mass mobilisation ahead of its planned nationwide strike scheduled to begin Wednesday to protest the hardship occasioned by the fuel subsidy removal.
In a schedule obtained by our correspondent in Abuja on Sunday, the NLC urged Nigerians to “join us at the Unity Fountain, Abuja on Wednesday, August 2, 2023, at 7 am.”
“There is nowhere in the world where government leaves its citizens totally to the vagaries of the market without some measure of control and protection. The Federal Government should immediately deal decisively with the criminal content of subsidy instead of exposing ordinary citizens to avoidable pain and hardship.
“As a matter of national importance, it is imperative to fix all our refineries to be able to cater to domestic fuel consumption,” the NLC said.
Speaking further on the recent monetary policies rolled out by the President Bola Tinubu-led Federal Government, the NLC said, “We are concerned that no government acting reasonably leaves its national currency to forces of the market.”
Insisting on its demands, the union reiterated the need for the government to immediately reverse all “anti-poor policies”, and release the withheld salaries of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, among others.
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Ahead of its meeting with the Federal Government scheduled to be held today (Monday) and the nationwide strike scheduled to begin on Wednesday, the NLC said the Tinubu-led administration was playing games with the lives of Nigerians.
The congress also called on the government to take seriously the engagement with the labour unions.
Speaking in an interview with our correspondent in Abuja on Sunday, the National Treasurer, NLC, Hakeem Ambali, recounted how the government shunned the Friday, July 28, 2023 meeting with labour leaders at the State House.
He further questioned the government’s intentions for approving N70bn as palliatives for members of the National Assembly while it continued to “play games” with labour.
He said, “Government needs to take engagement with Labour seriously. The government’s economic policy had meted untold hardship on Nigerian people and workers’ patience is running out. How can the government approve about N70bn to National Assembly members and about N35bn to the judiciary, those who are very comfortable in terms of salary, and continue to play game with Labour?”
Meanwhile, academic unions, such as the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics and the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, have also begun nationwide mobilisation of their members for the strike scheduled to commence on Wednesday.
The national presidents of the two unions, in separate interviews with our correspondent in Abuja, noted that as affiliate members of the NLC, they would join in the strike.
The National President, SSANU, Muhammed Ibrahim, said, “We are actively going to participate.”
Similarly, the National President of ASUP, Anderson Ezeibe, said, “Of course, we will join the protest.”
Also, some northern youths, under the aegis of the Arewa Citizen Watch for Good Governance, on Sunday, said they were set to hit the streets of Abuja to protest the subsidy removal, which, they said, had inflicted pains and hunger on them.
The youths also called for the sacking of the Group Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian National Petroleum Limited, Mele Kyari, for allegedly misleading the President on the subsidy removal.
This was just as they warned against renewing the Pipeline Surveillance Contract to a former Niger Delta militant, Government Tompolo, by the NNPCL.
Addressing journalists in Kaduna on Sunday, the group’s Publicity Secretary, Aminu Abbas, fingered the NNPCL boss as the brain behind the renewal of the pipeline contract to Tompolo.
According to him, protecting oil pipelines and other national assets should be the responsibility of the nation’s armed forces, failure of which a vote of no confidence would be passed in them.
The group demanded Kyari’s sacking, threatening that it would mobilise its members across the 19 northern states and Abuja, to storm the Federal Capital Territory in protest against the subsidy removal.
But the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association, on Sunday, appealed to the NLC to reconsider the planned strike “due to potential threats to sustainable enterprises, decent work, national development, and our industrial relations system.”
NECA, in a statement, expressed worry that the planned strike “could potentially disrupt the economic activities of businesses, especially those in the formal and informal sectors, which could compromise sustainability and job creation.”
“We urge the government to, as a matter of urgency, take immediate steps to ameliorate the economic trauma being faced by workers, Nigerians, and organised businesses. It is no gainsaying that many businesses are shut down and many others are on the verge of closing, which will exacerbate the current unemployment rate and drag many further down the poverty line,” NECA said.
Also, the President has said the Federal Government was receiving support and commendations from the global communities over the removal of fuel subsidy and the foreign exchange regime policies, saying they were yielding positive results.
Tinubu stated this at a Gala/Award Night on Saturday, organised by the office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation to recognise and honour outstanding civil servants to mark the 2023 Civil Service Week, according to a statement released by the HOCSF on Sunday.
Represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, George Akume, Tinubu appreciated civil servants for their contributions to the economic development of the country.
The President said, “We shall, without delay, cushion the pains being experienced by our people as a result of these measures through several well-targeted interventions aimed at giving adequate relief and succour to a great number of our long-suffering citizens,” he said.