Store food at home, Labour tells Nigerians
By Bimbola Oyesola
BARRING any last minute intervention by the federal government, the organised labour and members of the civil society groups across the country will commence an indefinite nationwide strike on Wednesday in protest against the increase in the price of premium motor spirit from N86.50 to N145, announced by the governmrnt last week.
In the run up to the strike, the leadership of organised labour advised Nigerians to stock food that will last them for the duration of the strike, as the leadership of the movement has warned that all banks, sea and airports, government and private offices as well as markets would be shut throughout the duration of the strike. The organised labour yesterday at different fora both in Lagos and Abuja reiterated its call on the federal government to revert to the old price regime in order to reduce the sufferings of the people.
The joint body of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) in a statement by their two presidents, Ayuba Wabba and Bobboi Bala Kaigama, said the federal government should also consider the present act of mindless pump price increase as a betrayal of trust.
Both the NLC and the TUC demanded that government should revert the price to the status quo on or before midnight on Tuesday, May17, 2016, stating that they and their civil society allies had resolved to commence indefinite strike from Wednesday, May 18, 2016, if the government failed to heed the call.
Besides reverting to the old price, organised labour also demanded for the reversal to the pre-45 percent electricity tariff increase, make meters available to consumers and stop estimated billing.
At a press conference in Lagos yesterday, the NLC faction led by Comrade Joe Ajaero warned the federal government that all the workers were united in the present struggle and hence should not see the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) position as contrary.
“On this fuel increase, all the labour centres have unity of purpose, there is no division when it comes to issues that affect the masses,” he said.
He equally warned that government should not believe that labour would abandon the struggle midway, as the centre is ready to ensure that government reverts to the old price. The labour leader also appealed to Nigerians to join the struggle to fight against the increment. Lamenting that the present price hike from N86.50 to N145 represents 67.63 per cent increase, he said that the government exhibited insensitivity and impunity, as there was no previous consultation with stakeholders, especially the organized labour. The organised labour among others is also demanding the reconstitution of the boards of PPPRA and NNPC without further delay with the statutory right to function alongside DPR in order to deepen the process of consultation, checks and balances in the downstream sector of the petroleum industry. Other demands of labour include: “Intensify the prosecution of all those involved in subsidy scams with a view to recovery and sanctioning of the culpable; put in place enhanced local refining capacity within a specified period in place of endless importation as an enduring solution to the perennial problem of scarcity; reverse the entire deregulation and privatization process which foisted on the nation private individuals as drivers of the economy in contravention of the constitutional provision that says government shall be the driver of the economy and engage the organised labour in the process of negotiation on key policy issues. It also demanded that government should wean itself from the overbearing influence of the neo-liberal elements in its fold who have not only staged a coup but are determined to make this government collapse even before the end of its four-year tenure; uphold its electioneering promises to Nigerians instead of subjecting them to the vagaries of slavish policies such as full devaluation of the naira and total removal of subsidy as enunciated by the IMF and its agents in the system.”
The organised labour said it would not hesitate to go to the streets to commence mobilization of ordinary and helpless Nigerians across the country to whom they owe the duty of protection.
It equally vowed to fight as well as resist the machinations and cruelties of the neo-liberal forces in the government as part of the process of saving the government from itself and the generality of Nigerians from slavery.