Romanus Ugwu, Abuja and Felix Ikem, Nsukka
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) has continued to receive knocks over their “mismanagement” of the energy strike.
According to the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP), labour no longer have the capacity to represent the interest of Nigerians after botching the strike planned to protest hike in petroleum and electricity tariff by the Federal Government.
The removal of the subsidy had led to an increase in electricity tariff from about N30.23 to N62.33 per kwh, while the price of petrol was increased from N145 to N161 per litre.
NLC and TUC had mobilised their members for the strike and protest until it reached a midnight agreement to suspend the action with the Federal Government. However, the labour union had given the FG two-week ultimatum to implement the agreements reached or it would resume industrial action.
In a statement by the National Secretary, Chief Peter Ameh, the coalition insisted that it stands with the people on their demand for reversal of the price increases.
“When NLC and TUC came out about two weeks ago threatening fire and brimstone over the recent increases in the price of premium motor spirit (PMS) and electricity tariff, many Nigerians were very sceptical about their will power to carry out the strike action because of how unprotective of the masses the current leadership of both NLC and TUC have been since it came on board.
“NLC and TUC should know that the ordinary man on the street has lost confidence, trust and faith in their ability to actually speak or act for them.
“NLC and TUC can not claim to be unaware of the suffocating and life threatening suffering being experienced by the Nigerian people as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and then to add salt to the injury the government without consultation carried out an arbitrary increase on the price of PMS per litre and the cost of electricity tariff per unit simultaneously without any soft landing measures to cushion the effect of such increase on the masses.
“That singular action has led to the exponential increase in the prices of transportation and other commodities. CUPP believes that NLC and TUC do not have the capacity to represent the interest of the Nigerian people and as such have no answer to these question.
“The masses must develop the will to speak for themselves on these matters that are meant to enslave and imprison their conscience and destinies. We all know that all is not well in Nigeria, politically, economically and socially and this administration is still rolling out policies that will finally destroy the little fragment of life left with the masses while NLC and TUC refuse to act to protect the interest of the people.
“If the NLC/TUC meant well for the people, they would have insisted on using the two weeks as opportunity for people to protest and voice out their grievances for the rulers to hear and know how to mend their ways rather than to use the two weeks to silence the people and devise ways to deceive us as usual….
“We reject the action of NLC and TUC and both labour centres must reinvent themselves and start to act in the interest of Nigerians who need them at time like this,” the statement read.
Northern group under the auspices of Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) also blasted the Federal Government, NLC and TUC on their respective roles in suspending the planned nationwide strike.
Addressing journalists in Kaduna, spokesman of CNG, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman condemned labour union leaders for allegedly betraying the trust of the public by compromising the expectations of most Nigerian masses.
The northern group said the agreement reached with the federal government by the labour leaders was sectional, far from addressing the pains of the masses.
Also, a youth group under the aegis of ‘Save Enugu Youth Initiative’ said the botched protest was a big slap on Nigerians.
It wondered why the NLC and TUC would choose to play with emotions of Nigerians when they knew they didn’t mean business.
In a statement jointly signed by the Convener, Gwiyi Solomon and the state coordinator, Chibueze Nwoga, the group regretted that the nationwide protest could be aborted after the group had unleashed its resources to mobilise members and other concerned youths of the state to hit the streets of Enugu in a peaceful demonstration against the recent development.