The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) yesterday told their members to go ahead with street protests scheduled today after their talks with the a federal Government over subsidy removal failed.
The talks held at the State House, Abuja but the labour unions expressed dissatisfaction with the offers of palliatives made by government.
Returning to their offices, the unions directed their members to go ahead with the protests.
In a statement, president of TUC, Comrade (Engr) Festus Osifo; and Secretary General, Comrade Nuhu Toro, directed their members across the 36 States and FCT “mobilise for action by midnight of today, 1st August, 2023”, against the draconian policies of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
It further said that “it will be recalled that at his inauguration, the president Bola Ahmed Tinubu removed subsidy leading to a sharp rise in the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) also known as fuel. This resulted to a hike from N190 per litre to N540 and later N620 per litre.
“This development has brought about untold hardship on Nigerians with many having to trek kilometers to work and places of business. Organisations have shut down and workers laid off because of the anti-poor policy.
“The congress is not averse to the removal of subsidy; we support the fact that it has to be removed but there must be measures in place to ameliorate its effect on Nigerians.
“And such measures include: fixing of the refineries and possibly building more; functional transportation system; living wage, good medical facilities and employment. The policy was not thought through which is why its impact is excruciating on Nigerians.
“Sadly, when Nigerians cried out the federal government proposed a paltry sum of N8,000 for poor families without details on mode of payment. Annoyingly also, the same government is giving a whopping sum of N70bn to 469 lawmakers and N39bn to the judiciary.
The injustice and impunity cannot be tolerated.
“Three days ago, the organized labour (TUC/NLC) was at the Villa for a meeting with the federal government to discuss further on the palliatives but government boycotted the meeting slowing down the negotiation process. Nigerians are dying and we cannot afford to keep quiet any longer.
“The federal government must realise that governance goes beyond declaration of emergency on food security; it is time to swing into action to avert the starvation in the land. Government promised to attract investors when they win elections which we have not seen.
“They should go abroad, get investors, create more decent jobs and provide an enabling environment for investment in terms of security and others. It is when more people get employed that taxes can be paid and government will more money.
“The exchange rate is abysmally high and stifling businesses. This has affected the cost of production and inflation rate. Naira should not be on a free fall; no country allows that. Nigeria is dollar dependent and our only major source of forex is oil and painfully we cannot refine our crude.
“The federal government has failed to manage it forex well and it is taking toll on the pockets of Nigerians. Government must come up with good monetary policies that will help investments and also empower the naira.
“President Bola Ahmed Tinubu -led administration has said that so far the sum of N1trn has been saved from the removal of subsidy in two months. If they knew the country would save that much within two months why then borrow the sum $800m World facility? It shows improper planning or it could also be that some people somewhere took advantage of the situation to rip-off the country.
“All affiliates and State councils of congress are hereby directed to mobilise their members for action by midnight of today, 1st August, 2023.”
Also, the NLC on Tuesday night urged Nigerians to ignore news about a possible suspension of its planned nationwide strike scheduled to commence today.
The Congress in a terse statement signed by its national president, Joe Ajaero, said the protests would be held as scheduled across major cities in the country.
The terse statement which was posted on the official Twitter handle of the NLC @NLCheadquarters reads: “Ignore fake rumours, NLC is never divided. We are one united and strong labour centre. The protest rally will be held tomorrow (Wednesday) nationwide.”