NLC Faction Sets up Joint Action Committee to Harmonise Protest

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  •  Gives govt Tuesday deadline for fuel price reversal

Our Correspondents

The faction of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) led by Joseph Ajaero has announced that it has set up a joint action committee for coordinated protests all over the country to force government to reverse the 67.63 per cent hike in petrol pump price.

It also said it had given the authorities till tomorrow to reverse the price increase or face indefinite protests that will paralyse all activities nationwide.

The federal government last Wednesday announced sharp increase in the price of petrol, giving many reasons why it had to take the decision.

Briefing journalists at the weekend after an emergency meeting of the Central Working Committee (CWC) of the group in Lagos, the factional leader said the congress made five major decisions, namely that the federal government should reverse its decision to hike the pump price of petrol to N145/litre between now and Tuesday at midnight.

According to him, “The congress also resolved that the government should convoke a meeting of all the relevant stakeholders if it is desirous of taking any action in the industry with far reaching consequences on the citizenry.

“That government must engage the core stakeholders including the leadership of the industrial unions in the oil and gas sector and the NLC that represent them.

“Finally, labour warned that if government fails to heed these calls and correct itself; it shall be forced to call out Nigerian workers and masses to the streets to shut all critical sectors of this economy down for as long as it shall take to force the government to subject itself to the desires of the people.”

Ajaero said the organised labour would meet civil society groups early this week to decide when the civil action will commence in case government fails to heed their call.

He stated that the labour group he is heading would not accept any invitation for dialogue unless government rescinds its decision first to pave way for talks.

According to him, even if the other faction of the congress chooses not to take any action, his group will make sure that government reverses the increase to N86.50, saying that the 67.63 per cent increase was totally unacceptable.

Describing the Muhammadu Buhari government as anti-masses and wired against the poor, the labour leader said it is irresponsible for this government to unilaterally hike the price of petrol without considering the existing understanding of industry stakeholders.

He said  the price increase, if allowed, will have multiplier effect citing the sharp rise in foreign exchange rate within three days after the price hike.

“Today, the dollar exchanged for N365 from N320, within few hours after the announcement. The implication is that there will be artificial scarcity because if you used to import one million litres before now, with the same amount, you won’t be able to import equal volume given the sharp rise in foreign exchange.

“You will import much less because the value of the dollar has changed significantly. With so much money, you end up buying so little, that is the logic, and you will be left with scarcity of the product. Therefore, the product won’t sell for N145 if there is scarcity,” the labour leader submitted, “he said.

He urged Nigerians to come all out against the government, insisting that the issue of fuel price increase is not a labour issue but a national issue that goes beyond labour centres.

“Nigerians should look beyond labour organisations and rise to the occasion and stop government. All Nigerians should step out and save this country from imminent collapse,” Ajaero advised.

Reeling out series of government’s anti-masses policies and actions, the President of Nigerian Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) stated that the new government has never done anything for the poor since assuming office a year ago.

The congress accused government of deliberately creating fuel scarcity so that the citizens would accept whatsoever hike it forced on them. “It is evil for government to create artificial scarcity of petroleum products grinding the citizenry to the dust and extorting N250 per litre of petrol as gleefully acknowledged by the honourable Minister. This is Machiavellian and a complete breach of trust. Nigerians are truly being taken for a ride by those in government,” said the congress.