Bimbola Oyesola, Timothy Olanrewaju, Maiduguri and Judex Okoro, Calabar
Organised Labour under the umbrella of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), yesterday, gave the Federal Government a seven-day ultimatum to reverse the hike in prices of electricity, petrol and all other social services.
This is even as it mandated the government to provide adequate and quality healthcare and education for all to save the poor and the vulnerable.
In a letter to President Muhammad Buhari on Monday, September 14, titled: “We cannot bear the burden any longer, issuance of seven days ultimatum,” TUC warned that failure to comply would leave the labour centre with no other option than to commence an indefinite industrial action and national protest from Wednesday, September 23.
The letter jointly signed by President of TUC, Quadri Olaleye and Secretary General, Musa Lawal Ozigi, said the decision was taken at the just concluded meeting of its organs, adding that the demands were made in good faith, and to save the dying masses and the vulnerable in the society.
“In the event of not showing empathy for this class of people by adhering to above demands, we shall, together with our civil societies and allies, sympathetic to the suffering masses of our people commence an indefinite industrial action and national protest from Wednesday 23rd September 2020.”
The TUC said it had observed the gradual and steady annihilation of Nigeria and Nigerians in the light of government’s actions for the umpteenth time.
It said some of the issues that have become worrisome to the working class, their families and the masses included the sudden increase in pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) popularly called petroleum, without any definitive and concrete efforts to make the nation’s refineries functional, which it stated has a devastating multiplier effect on the working people and their families.
The congress also listed the increase in electricity tariff, stating it was done without proper consultation and consideration of the effect of COVID-19, commensurate electricity supply, non-provision of prepaid meters and other biting economic realities.
Others include non-implementation of the negotiated national minimum wage by most of the states and federal governments’ inability to create and sustain salary date and calendar to ensure transparency, corruption in government agencies such as the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Federal Ministry of Health over failure to explain and lack of transparency on how funds received in the fight against COVID-19 was spent among others.
The labour centre said there had been loss of jobs across industries, high cost of living and businesses not moving in the light of the effects of COVID-19. It also lamented the palliative that never got to those that needed them.
Meanwhile, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has urged the Federal Government to listen to the voice of the people and discontinue the hike in petroleum price and new electricity tariff.
NANS Zone C Coordinator, Suleiman Sarki, told newsmen in Maiduguri during a road work to protest against fuel hike and new electricity tariff, said all the increment would lead to hikes in the process of goods and services.
The union leader said it was inhuman for the government to suddenly introduce fuel hike and new power tariff at a period Nigerians were struggling with the economic impact of COVID-19.
“The increase in petrol price could further heighten insecurity in the nation and further explosion of crisis.
“We call on the government to stop pushing Nigerians to the wall. This is too daring,” he said.
In his reaction, National Publicity Secretary of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Bishop Emmah Isong, also decried the increase, describing it as a policy somersault.
He advised leaders and those in government to be consistent in policy and have integrity especially after elections.
Isong, who doubles as the Chairman of Cross River State Anti-Tax Agency, said millions of Nigerians were begging for food and crying for help and urged the Federal Government to fulfil its campaign promises rather than impoverishing the populace the more by removing fuel subsidy.
The founder and president of Christian Central Chapel International (CCCI), Calabar, wondered why the same leaders, who protested against fuel subsidy removal under President Goodluck Jonathan should now turn around to say no going back on subsidy removal.
“I can tell you that we were deceived and hoodwinked into believing that if Jonathan goes, heaven will come, Paradise will come. All of us believed this. Today, see where we are. We are all guilty. So, we should come and confess our sins. We should apologies to Goodluck Jonathan.”