Public servants protest union’s action
Scores of aggrieved labour activists on Thursday marched to the Lagos State Secretariat angrily protesting against the decision of the federal government to increase the pump price of petrol.
The protesters, who were led by the National Vice President, Mr. Amechi Asugwuni, marched into the secretariat complex; blocked the main gate and sealed up the office of Head of Service (HoS), Mrs. Olabowale Ademola.
However, some public servants angrily took on the protesting labour unionists when the office of HoS was picketed, although security operatives quickly intervened and brought the situation under control.
Consequently, the protesters who arrived at the secretariat at about 1:30 p.m., marched around the premises of the secretariat, singing different solidarity songs and demanding the reversal of fuel subsidy policy.
The protesters trooped to the state secretariat through Awolowo road and blocked almost all the strategic roads leading to the seat of power, thereby causing gridlocks virtually in all parts of Ikeja.
The protesters shut the entrance to the complex preventing public servants from entering or going out, a situation which sparked confrontation with the labour activists by some public officials.
A public servant lamented that the organised labour only protest when the situation “is not in the favour of the leaders. What has the organised labour done for the public servants in the state all these years?”
The public servant, also decried that money “is deducted monthly from our salary and yet nothing is done to protect our interest. They only protest when the situation is not in their favour.”
He therefore confronted the protesting labour activists, asking them “to protest to other parts of the state and allow those who want to work to continue their duties.”
Asugwuni, who addressed the workers outside the HOS office, asked the protesters to remain calm and peaceful, noting that the purpose of the rally “is not to disrupt, but to protect the interest of workers.”
The labour leader charged the protesting labour activists not to be intimidated by the heavy presence of security personnel, assuring them that the police officers “are around to protect the workers.
“Police are our friends and are not here to stop us. An average Nigeria policeman needs its salary to be revealed, this is a struggle for all Nigerian workers. The police are also part of the organised labour.
“We are here because Nigerian workers are on strike and we have come to enforce that decision. What the federal government has done with the removal of fuel subsidy is not acceptable.
“Today, a seed of tomatoes is being sold for N100. We cannot allow this injustice to continue with our people. A policy that does not consider average Nigerians is anti-people and must be resisted.”
Protest Bites Harder as Refuses Litter Akure
As the strike ordered by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) entered its second day, heaps of refuse are mounting on major roads and streets in Akure, the Ondo State capital. Yesterday’s action was more intense than Monday’s exercise as more organisations joined the strike. The ever clean Akure streets and the popular Erekesan/Oja Oba markets are now littered with refuses.
Expectedly, gates of state secretariat were locked just as it happened at the local government secretariats in the 18 council areas.
Also, commercial banks, particularly in the state capital, closed their gates against their customers in compliance with the directive of the National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institution Employees (NUBFIE).
The cooperation of members of the Nigeria Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) made the strike more effective as commercial taxis were forced to discharge their passengers.
Consequently, many major commercial complexes were closed as many people and prospective customers could not get means of transportation to those shopping complexes.
As a result of blockage of the popular Oyemekun/Adesida road at strategic places by labour leaders, many portions of the road were temporarily converted to football pitch.
However, labour leaders in the state dispersed at about 2:30 p.m. and retired to the NLC secretariat in Alagbaka to assess the situation.
NANS Backs Subsidy Removal, Asks for Palliative Measures
The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) yesterday expressed its support for the federal government’s decision to remove subsidy on the consumption of petrol, saying it was a necessary decision that ought to be made.
NANS however said a total deregulation of Nigeria’s downstream petroleum sector would have been preferred by it because, according to it, it will improve the economy of the country and generate employment for Nigerians.
The President of the student group, Mr. Tijani Usman Shehu, said in a briefing in Abuja that the association was of the opinion that there was no reason for government to continue to subsidise consumption of imported petrol in the country.
Shehu therefore called for a full deregulation of the sector rather than the present policy of price modulation which the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, said was in existence and which caps pump price of petrol at a maximum of per litre.
“NANS recognises that Nigeria is faced with the crisis of deciding its future from present realities of economic challenges, and this justifies the reasons for the agitation for reversal of the pump price to N86.50 by some Nigerians.
“We recognise that the economy is sinking, however we blame the government for allowing the situation to degenerate to a position where labour unions will find it difficult to appreciate, accommodate policies and be on the same page with them,” said Usman.
He added that: “NANS does not see any justification for the federal government to subsidise imported petroleum products considering that we are blessed with crude oil.”
The group however said it was disappointed with the government’s insistence on products diversions as one of the reasons for removing subsidy, stating that it was an indictment on the security apparatus of the present government which it alleged has failed to apprehend culprits of the act.
However, to cushion the effect of the price increase on students across tertiary institutions in the country, the group therefore urged the government to halt any further increment in tuition and other auxiliary fees in all institutions of higher learning.
It also made other demands on the government which it said could help students overcome the burden of the price increase.
ASUU, SSANU, NASU Comply
Academic and non-academic staff at the Federal University of Technology (FUT) Minna, Niger State capital, and the state College of Education yesterday joined the ongoing strike called by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to protest against the new petrol pump price by the federal government.
However, workers in the ministries and local government areas have continued to shun the strike.
THISDAY investigation in Minna revealed that both officials of ASUU, NASU and SSANU in institutions in the state ensured strict compliance with the strike thereby paralysing activities in the schools.
Chairman of ASUU in the FUT Minna chapter, Ndanista Mohammed, confirmed that “we are on strike; we have withdrawn our services.” Also, the SSANU Chairman of the College of Education Minna, Alhaji Aliyu Mohammed, said they have joined the strike, saying: “We have joined the strike, our members are complying.”
Meanwhile, civil servants in the state have continued to ignore the strike by reporting for duty yesterday. The state general hospital was opened to receive patients with medical doctors and other supporting staff performing their roles.
State Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Chairman, Yahaya Idris Ndako, when contacted, said: “We are still on with the strike as our members are complying.”
Ndako added the case of some security operatives forcing the gates to the state secretariat earlier chained by the NLC opened was reported to the Commissioner of Police who apologised on behalf of those concerned.
Offices, Schools Remain Closed in Kwara
As the strike embarked upon by the Nigeria Labour Congress(NLC) over the petrol price hike entered its second day yesterday, workers, including teachers and public service, in Kwara State stayed at home in compliance with the NLC directives.
When THISDAY visited the state secretariat at Ahmadu Bello way, Ilorin, and other state ministries, it was learnt that the gates were locked up while private security agents were on guard to protect the government property.
Also yesterday, gates of some schools were locked up as teachers and students stayed at homes.
Reports from the 16 local government councils in the state revealed that workers in the councils did not report for duty as they stayed at home in compliance with the NLC directives.
It was also learnt that there was vehicular movement within the state capital while some banks were doing skeletal work to their customers.
Labour leaders have also been moving around to ensure that the workers comply with the strike in the state.
The state NLC Chairman, Yekeen Agunbiade, who spoke with journalists yesterday vowed that the strike would continue until federal government reduce the petrol hike in the country.
He said: “Nigerians were not bargaining for this kind of hardship when they voted for All Progressives Congress (APC) during the last general election.
“It is worrisome that the petrol price hike has increased all other commodities in the market, meanwhile, the government has not paid workers’ salaries as at when due.
“The labour leaders will ensure that this ugly situation is reversed so that the people can have a better living condition,” he said.
Agunbiade, however, called on the people of the country to support the strike in order to move the country forward.
ASUU, NASU Protest Hike in Fuel
Petrol price hike protest by members of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU) of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) yesterday halted vehicular movement in Ile-Ife, Osun State.
The protesters, who stormed the streets of the ancient city, marched from from OAU campus gate to Mayfair roundabout, armed with placards with different inscriptions such as ‘Nigeria Labour will never surrender’; ‘ASUU says no to high electricity tariff ‘; ‘We voted for change not chaos’ among others.
The protesters lamented that majority of the federal government’s policies were anti-masses, adding that the federal government needs to revert some of its policies especially hike in fuel price.
While addressing the crowd at the protest ground, Chairman of ASUU OAU, Dr. Caleb Aborisade, challenged the government to demonstrate its care for the masses by reverting the fuel price.
Aborisade, who was represented by Dr. Ayoka Abiodun, said: “If truly the government is for the masses, it should not make life unbearable for the people. Everyone can see that the hike in petrol has worsen their living condition as virtually every consumable item has skyrocketed in their prices in the market.
On his part, Chairman of NASU OAU chapter, Mr. Wole Odewumi, said government was inflicting pains on the masses with increment in petroleum product.
Odewumi appealed to the federal government to make policies that are masses-friendly, noting that that would be a sign of good governance.
Protest Flops in Cross River as Workers Ignore NLC
Amid obvious signs that the strike embarked upon by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) might have flopped in Cross River State, workers under the state employ went to their office yesterday in defiance of the directive of the labour union that they should stay at home.
The reason for the failure of the strike on the second day of its commencement was the personnel audit of the state government which commenced yesterday.
However, the labour leaders took their campaign to markets in the town where they tried to sensitise and mobilise the traders on the need to join the strike.
The officials of the NLC in the state led by their Chairman, John Ushie, visited Watt market among other in the metropolis where they engaged the marketers.
Addressing the traders, the NLC chairman told them that their decision to embark on the strike was not for government to increase workers’ salaries.
Ushie said the strike was meant to challenge the arbitrary increase in fuel price by President Muhammadu Buhari government.
Ushie appealed to the traders to shut down the market places and join the strike to ensure that government changes the fuel increment policy, which he described as inhuman.
Despite the visit to the markets, THISDAY observed that the traders in Watt, Marian and other markets refused to join the strike, rather, returned to their shops almost immediately after the labour leaders left.
However, public primary and secondary schools remained shut as teachers and pupils stayed at home.
At the federal secretariat in Calabar, it was noticed that the workers were in their offices attending to their normal duties.