With Tinubu’s Promise of PH Refinery Ready by Dec, Labour Suspends Protests, Extends Dialogue

•FG to negotiate new salary award, senate intervenes promises resolution 

•Labour threatens to occupy courts over contempt charge

•Federal govt must cut down cost of governance, says TUC 

•Rivers workers to president: allow us to breathe, fix refineries

Our Correspondents

Following President Bola Tinubu’s promise to fix the national refineries, a key demand of labour, among other commitments,   Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC), yesterday, agreed to suspend their nationwide protest and return to the negotiating table with the federal government on measures to cushion the effects of the removal of petrol subsidy on Nigerians.

The unions also cited intervention by the senate, which pledged to within one week get more involved and try to resolve the issues in dispute.

TUC President, Festus Osifo, disclosed the decision to suspend the protest during an interview on ARISE NEWS Channel last night.

A statement jointly signed by President of NLC, Joe Ajaero, and Osifo said “on the strength of the president’s pledge and commitment, we have decided for a return to a new and reinvigorated dialogue process to allow for full implementation”.

In Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, yesterday, workers took to the streets, chanting “Tinubu allow us to breathe”, and other songs to denounce the petrol subsidy removal and the consequent economic hardship.

Speaking while meeting with the leadership of the organised labour centre at State House, Abuja, Tinubu gave his commitment to the labour leaders that the Port Harcourt refineries would start production by December. He said this would be after completion of the ongoing rehabilitation contract between Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) and Italian firm, Maire Tecnimont SpA.

The president assured the labour leaders that he would continue to work for the best interest of Nigeria, while pleading with them to join hands with him to birth a better and economically buoyant country.

According to a release issued on Wednesday evening by Special Adviser to the President on Special Duties, Communications and Strategy, Mr Dele Alake, consequent upon the fruitful and frank discussion with Tinubu and their confidence in his ability to encourage open and honest consideration of all the issues put forward by the labour movement, the labour leaders resolved to stop further protest.

They opted for further constructive engagement with the government to resolve all outstanding issues as they affected the working people and Nigerians in general.

The interventions by the president and the National Assembly came after thousands of workers, led by NLC and TUC, protested on Wednesday in major cities across the country.

In Abuja, the workers, led by the NLC and TUC presidents, stormed the Unity Fountain area in Maitama, as early as 7am, from where they proceeded in a solidarity march to the National Assembly. They protested the harsh economic situation in the country brought about by the sudden removal of subsidy on the pump price of petrol.

The protesting workers and their civil society allies gathered at the Unity Fountain, chanting solidarity songs.

There was a heavy security deployment on the streets of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), but this did not deter the protesters, as they surged forward and marched to the legislative chambers.

Some of the placards bore inscriptions like, “Let’s Unite to Emancipate the People,” “FG why Protect the Subsidy Criminals,” “Workers are dying from fuel price increase, inflation and Insecurity,” “We are workers not slaves.”

NLC and TUC said the closed-door session with Tinubu was fruitful, as it achieved immense mileage with regard to the issues that necessitated the nationwide protest.

The joint statement by the two labour unions said, “It is pertinent to inform Nigerians that the extent of the success of the protest is underlined by the request of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu, to meet with the leadership of the organised labour.

“He committed to an immediate restructuring of the framework for engagement in line with the input of the labour leaders.

“He let out a certainty that the Port Harcourt Refinery will commence production by December this year.

“He pledged to ensure that agreement is reached on the wage award for Nigerian workers immediately. He promised to unveil a workable roadmap to the CNG alternative next week”.

However, NLC and TUC said they had been served with court summons on charges of contempt of court.

They stated, “It is also important that we inform Nigerians that we have just received a court summons purporting to charge us with contempt of court.

“We urge all Nigerians to be vigilant because it appears that the days of long knives are here with us again. The leadership remains resolute in its commitment to the protection of the interests and welfare of the Nigerian people and nothing whatsoever can take our eyes away from this focus nor shake this belief.

“Having demonstrated our collective resolve through the strong signal we sent today across Nigeria, we urge vigilance on the part of all workers and masses to protect our nation and our decisions while we await the response of the government through the National Assembly as was assured by their representatives during the protest.

“To further show our collective resolve, all Nigerian workers will resume at the courts wherever they may be across the nation on the days of the court sittings to hear the contempt proceedings against the leaders of trade unions.

“The airports, seaports, hospitals, schools, all public and private sector workers will all appear in court across the nation in response to the contempt charges.

“Once again, we look forward to the continuing support of all Nigerians and workers around the country as we continue in this struggle for freedom from the clutches of oppression and impoverishment.

“We must remain unwavering and together refusing to allow them divide us so that collectively, we will build a nation where, no one will be considered too small to be left behind.”

The two labour centres, while thanking Nigerians for their support during the protest, said they resolved to wait for the government to fulfil its own part of the understanding, as agreed with the president.

Earlier, the organised labour had agreed to allow the senate a week moratorium to enable it intervene and resolve the dispute over subsidy removal.

Both NLC and TUC leaders expressed their readiness to meet the senate leadership for talks on resolution of the fuel subsidy logjam. The development followed an appeal by the senate to the leadership of NLC and TUC during the workers’ protest march to the National Assembly.

General Secretary of NLC, Emma Ugboaja, told the anxious workers that the two labour centres had accepted the intervention of the National Assembly to help resolve the issues.

Chief Whip of the Senate, Alhaji Ali Ndume, who received the protest letter from leaders of the organised labour on behalf of the National Assembly leadership, said the federal legislature would immediately intervene in the subsidy dispute and try to find an amicable resolution within the next one week.

Ndume told the protesters, “I assure you that between now and tomorrow we will fix meeting with labour and start the discussion and engagement. We will do our best, as your representative, to come up with a solution acceptable to all stakeholders.

“Give us one week and let’s try to find solutions and resolve the dispute and if you are not satisfied then you can go further with any action.”

While presenting a letter to the representative of the senate president at the National Assembly, Ajaero said the letter contained several issues listed in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the labour unions and government.

The NLC president complained about the apparent side-lining of the Office of the Secretary to the Government of Federation (SGF), which, he said, ought to be chairing the negotiations and to fast track the resolution.

Addressing the protesters, Ajaero said the protest was necessitated by the continued delay by government in addressing the demands of the workers as contained in the MoU signed by both parties

He listed the demands of labour to include immediate implementation, in good faith, of all resolutions with the congress and TUC jointly signed with the government, as well as “immediate reversal of all anti-poor policies of the government, such as hike in school fees of tertiary institutions, Value Added Tax and pump price PMS”.

Other demands include fixing the local refineries in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna; release of eight months withheld salaries of university lecturers and workers; according appropriate recognition and support to the presidential steering committee and the work of its sub-committees; and ending inhumane actions and policies of government.

He recalled that there was a first hike in pump price of petrol to N540 per litre, which was further increased to N617 per litre within four weeks, while negotiations were still ongoing.

Ajaero said the federal government also ignored a court order that all parties should maintain the status quo.

Speaking on the continued withholding of eight months salaries of ASUU members due to their participation in a prolonged strike last year, the NLC president accused the federal government of reneging on an agreement it duly signed with ASUU in 2009. He added that if the university teachers were made to forfeit their salaries, it would amount to rewarding a government for failing to keep agreement.

“I enter agreement with you, and you fail to implement, I cry by going on strike and you punish me for that. I want the National Assembly to look into that law,” he added.

Ajaero urged the National Assembly to see that the matter was resolved and salaries of the affected lecturers were paid in full.

Regarding the money so far saved from fuel subsidy, Ajaero expressed worry at the apparent contradiction between the disclosure by Tinubu that the country had so far earned N1 trillion, and the Presidential Steering Committee’s revelation that no money had been saved from the fuel subsidy removal.

Ajaero said since the president had said N1 trillion was saved from subsidy, then the money should be deployed judiciously to ameliorate the suffering of Nigerians. He said the reason the congress was pushing for a wage award was because the minimum wage was a constitutional matter that would be due for legislation by May 2024.

He said workers could not afford to continue to suffer the hardship imposed by the hike in fuel price until 2024.

On his part, Osifo said the federal government should look into cutting down cost of governance as a way of showing the much needed leadership and in keeping with reality of the time.

He stated, “I want to add to what the NLC president said and it is about the reduction of cost of governance. We strongly believe that the government of today is not being sensitive to the plight of Nigerians and that government comprises the executive, legislative, and judiciary.

“We believe strongly that you cannot ask Nigerians to keep tightening their belts and sacrificing or ask a man who barely has one meal a day to now be drinking only garri.

“The Nigerian masses have been battered, the Nigerian masses have suffered and are passing through excruciating and very difficult times.”

The TUC president said the administration was about to appoint new ministers who would in turn appoint several special assistants and personal assistants, adding, “Before we know what is happening, the number of political appointees will hit the roof.”

He said the federal government had proposed N70 billion for the National Assembly members to fix their offices, pointing out that most offices where workers stay are currently in bad shape with dilapidated facilities.

Ajaero, “We are all Nigerians and we have equal stake in the project called Nigeria. We want you in the National Assembly to show sacrifice, we want you to cut down your budget and we want you to go and buy Innoson Motors and not foreign made Toyota vehicles, which will further deplete our scarce foreign exchange.

“We don’t want you to continue to patronise imported goods because you are creating jobs there and importing suffering here. Let everyone be using Innoson Motors and other locally manufactured good.”

He said organised labour was not insensitive to the fact that, “our legislators should operate in a conducive environment but that they should also show example in leadership.”

Protests took place in several cities in states across the country.

Rivers Workers to Tinubu: Allow Us to Breathe, Fix the Refineries

In Rivers State, over 500 civil servants took to the streets of Port Harcourt, yesterday, to protest against removal of petrol subsidy.

They said Tinubu must allow Nigerians breathe, as his anti-people policies had impoverished the masses.

The workers demanded that the federal government should reverse all anti-people policies, fix the local refineries and stop the importation of fuel in the country.

The protesters, who were chanting “Tinubu allow us to breathe”, marched to the Ikwerre Road through Mile 3 Market to Azikiwe Road and terminated at Government House, Port Harcourt.

The state NLC chairman, Alex Agwanwor, who spoke during the protest in front of Government House, called on the federal government to fix the refineries. Agwanwor said the importation of fuel was responsible for the increase in the pump price of petrol.

Agwanwor said, “We are here today as workers to protest the current happenings in Nigeria occasioned by the removal of subsidies and the hardship that came with it. The suffering and trauma Nigerians are passing through, as a people they said you should let us breathe.”

He said the salaries of workers could no longer cater for their basic needs, including feeding and school fees for their children.

In his response, Rivers State Governor, Mr. Siminalayi Fubara, assured that he would not take the mandate given to him by the people of the state for granted. Fubara said his administration was poised to embark on policies that would better the lot of the people.

Addressing the organised labour at Government House, Port Harcourt, Fubara said he felt the pains and difficulties experienced by the workers and the generality of the masses as a result of subsidy removal.

The governor, who was represented by Chief of Staff, Government House, Mr. Chidi Amadi, commended labour for their peaceful disposition during the protest, stating that the demands of the workers would be channelled to the appropriate authorities.

Delta NLC, TUC Say Fuel Subsidy Removal Choking Workers

Workers in Delta State, yesterday, joined the nationwide protest by organised labour to protest against the removal of petrol subsidy by Tinubu without due consultation.

Chairman of Delta State NLC, Goodluck Ofobruku; his TUC counterpart, Martin Bolum; and Deputy President, Radio, Television, Theatre and Arts Workers’ Union of Nigeria (RATTAWU), Innocent Ofuonyeadi, led members of their affiliate unions in the protest, which started from the Labour House, through NTA Road, Okpanam Road to Government House, Asaba.

The protesting workers displayed placards with different inscriptions connoting dissatisfaction with the subsidy removal and the attendant hardship on the people. They chanted solidarity songs as they marched through the streets.

Presenting a position paper to the state governor, Hon Sheriff Oborevwori, at Government House gate, Ofobruku accused the Tinubu administration of insensitivity to the plight of Nigerians, especially the workers whose salaries were fixed.

He lamented that the removal of fuel subsidy without consulting the relevant stakeholders and damning the socio-economic consequences on the already impoverished majority of Nigerians was choking. He said the protest was to prevail on government to allow Nigerians, especially the workers, to breathe.

NLC, TUC Storm Lagos Assembly

Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, and members of the state House of Assembly, yesterday, received protesting members of NLC and TUC and their affiliates, who were in Alausa, Ikeja, to express their concerns about the hardship in the country.

Spokesperson and chairman of NLC in Lagos State, Bello Ismail, said the body commenced the nationwide protest to express their dissatisfaction with the removal of fuel subsidy, resulting in hardship on the citizens.

Ismail noted that the current situation in the country was unpalatable for the average citizens, urging the government to respect the people of the country who voted them in.

“You come to us to beg us to vote you in, your responsibility as a representative of the people you govern is to protect their welfare,” he added.

Human rights activist Femi Falana (SAN), who joined the protest, lamented the hardship faced by citizens, saying, “We are here to tell the federal government through the Lagos State government that our country is not a poor country; we are blessed with so many natural resources to be suffering this way.”

Obaseki Charges Workers to Reject FG’s Palliative, Offers N500m Monthly Package

Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, said his administration would disburse N500 million monthly to poor households in the state as palliative to cushion the economic hardship caused by the subsidy removal by the All Progressives Congress (APC) federal government. Obaseki disclosed this while speaking to members of the Edo State Chapter of NLC, led by Odion Olaye, and other labour unions, who were at Government House, Benin City, on a peaceful protest over the hardship faced by workers and Nigerians as a result of petrol subsidy removal.

Reaffirming his government’s commitment to the welfare and well-being of workers and all Edo people, Obaseki said his government would sustain efforts to reduce the suffering and hardship inflicted on the people by the APC-led federal government.

According to Obaseki, “The APC government has thrown us into this mess and we can’t ignore this fact but as Nigerians, we will do something about it. It may take time but we will prevail.

“On May 1st this year, I warned labour that we were likely to face the condition and situation we face today. I warned you in that speech not to wait but be proactive and plan ahead. Look at where we are today.

“We in Edo State will do our own bit and I have decided that every month, going forward, we will take N500 million from our money to give to the poorest of the poor in Edo State.”

The governor further stated, “I want to alert you to reject the palliative they want to give to you. It’s a continuation of the fraud that the federal government has always undertaken against the people of Nigeria. The so-called money for palliative should be given to the local government, which is closer to the people, to take care of their people.”

Anambra NLC, TUC Decry Hardship under Tinubu

Anambra State Chapter of NLC joined yesterday’s nationwide protests to show rejection of the hardship on Nigerians, caused by the removal of fuel subsidy by the President Bola Tinubu government.

Various bodies that make up the union gathered at the state office of Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), from where the protest kicked off.

The protesters who carried placards with various inscriptions, marched to Ekwueme Square, Awka, a short distance from the NULGE office, before they dispersed.

Inscriptions on some of the placards read, “End fuel price increase;” “Fix our local refineries in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna;” “No to jumbo pay for politicians;” “Stop naira devaluation;” “We cannot bear the suffering anymore;” “Pay university workers their salaries;” and “N8,000 palliative to households, insult to Nigerians.”

The state chairman of NLC, Humphrey Emeka Nwafor, who addressed the protesters, said, “The hardship Nigerians are passing through under this present administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is too much.

“Other Nigerians should equally add their voices against the current economic status of the country. We demand that the federal government should pay the eight months salaries of university workers.

“The federal government should not allow private companies to determine the price of petroleum products for Nigerians, when we have our regulatory agency. We are not accepting the N8, 000 palliatives.

Nwafor added, “As I speak, the cost of living here in Anambra State is very high. The current house rent in Awka is higher than other state capitals of the federation while workers monthly salaries remain the same.”

Kwara NLC, TUC Join Nationwide Protest

Hundreds of workers under the aegis of NLC and TUC in Kwara State, yesterday, staged peaceful protests to express their displeasure over the removal of petrol subsidy by the federal government.

The workers, who came out in their numbers, moved round major streets in Ilorin.

Some of the protesters were armed with placards with various inscriptions, such as, “Repair our refineries and build additional ones,” “No to industrial neo-liberal slavery,” “Masses welfare is sacrosanct,” and “Release eight months withheld salaries of university lecturers and workers, among other demands.”

The protest took off from the state NLC secretariat on Lajorin Road, GRA, Ilorin, and moved to Governor’s Office, where the marchers made a detour to the office of Deputy Governor Kayode Alabi.

In his address, shortly after delivering the letter, the chairman of NLC, Kwara State Council, Muritala Olayinka, expressed satisfaction with the peaceful manner members conducted themselves.

Proposed N8, 000 Palliative, Insult to Nigerians, Says Kaduna NLC

Kaduna State Chairman of NLC, Ayuba Suleiman, described the proposed N8, 000 palliative by the federal government as an insult to Nigerians. Suleiman said this yesterday, in Kaduna, during the nationwide protest against the high price of petrol by the organised labour. He said rather than dishing out a paltry N8,000 as palliatives, the money should be used to revive the nation’s refineries.

He demanded the reversal of petrol pump price to N185 per litre as against the N615 per litre, as directed by the court.

Suleiman called for a minimum wage of N200, 000, considering the difficult economic situation Nigerians were facing.

He stated, “Use the money you want to borrow from the World Bank to revive our refineries, use the proposed N8,000 palliatives to revive our refineries. We don’t need the government palliative.

“We are demanding for salary ‘upper’ the minimum we can bear is N200,000. We voted for democracy, good standard of living, equity and justice. The decision of President Tinubu on May 29, to remove fuel subsidy is causing untold hardship on Nigerians.

“We demand free education from primary to tertiary level and not students’ loan.”

A formal letter containing the workers’ demands was delivered to Governor Uba Sani, through Adamu Samaila, his Special Adviser on Labour Matters.

Enugu NLC Chairman: Tinubu Ambushed Nigerians with Fuel Subsidy Removal

Workers in Enugu, yesterday, joined the nationwide protest by TUC and NLC against the removal of fuel subsidy and the economic hardship it is inflicting on Nigerians.

The NLC members, associate unions, and civil society groups, who gathered at the New Market Office of the Enugu NLC where the protest took off at 9.50 am, marched through the New Market Roundabout to the State Secretariat, through Okpara Avenue to the Enugu State Government House.

Addressing the workers at Government House, Enugu State Chairman of NLC, Fabian Nwigbo, said the Tinubu administration ambushed Nigerians on its first day in office with the removal of petrol subsidy, which had more than doubled the sufferings of the people.

Nwigbo lamented that while the price of petroleum products and other commodities in the market had gone up as a result of the subsidy removal, salaries of workers had not increased.

He stated, “The anti-human policies of the government continue to affect our people, some of them are dying as a result.”

The NLC chairman added, “We are tired of what is happening, the N30, 000 minimum wage cannot even fill a motor tank and that is what some of us are earning and using to feed our families,”

On his part, chairman of TUC in the state, Ben Asogwa, said the labour unions had kicked against the idea of subsidy removal when it was contemplated.

“When the government insisted, we asked that they make our refineries work again and convert our vehicles to Gas-powered to make it cheaper for us as well as increase our minimum wage,” he said.

“But none of that was done and now, some of us that have cars have dumped them because we can’t even afford to fuel them again,” he said.

In his reaction, Deputy Governor of Enugu State, Ifeanyi Ossai, who addressed the workers on behalf of the governor, Peter Mbah, thanked the workers for conducting themselves peacefully during the protest.

Ogun Workers Protest Anti-poor Policies, Others

Organised labour in Ogun State, yesterday, joined their counterparts in other parts of Nigeria to protest against removal of fuel subsidies, which had led to astronomical increase in prices of commodities, including food items.

During the protests, the workers, who assembled as early as 8am at the NLC Secretariat at Leme, took to major streets in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.

Armed with various placards, the workers marched from the NLC secretariat in Leme area of Abeokuta metropolis to the governor’s office at Oke-Mosan, preventing free vehicular movement. They described the removal of fuel subsidy, hike in school fees, and VAT as anti-people policies.

The workers also demanded the release of eight months withheld salaries of university lecturers and an end to “inhuman actions” and policies of the government.

Addressing the workers, the NLC chairman in the state, Hammed Ademola, said the protest was in compliance with the directive of the national body of the union.

Ademola said, “We have to be on the streets, we must not wait until we die, our destiny is always in our hands and now is the right time for us to tell the government of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu that we Nigerians are suffering.

“The fuel subsidy removal has caused a lot of hardship, untold hardship on the masses of this nation. We are suffering, we have crude oil, yet we are still buying abroad, enough is enough.”

His TUC counterpart, Akeem Lasisi, demanded the reversal of fuel subsidy, saying, “Subsidy is the constitutional responsibility of any government, subsidy is a global practice, so it is unfortunate in this country that our own subsidy is marred with corruption.”

In Kogi, Labour Protests Economic Hardship

The organised labour in Kogi State joined other Nigerian workers nationwide, in line with the directives from the national body, to protest against the current hardship occasioned by the subsidy removal.

The workers in their thousands thronged Government House from the popular Ganaja Junction to present the letter of protest to the state governor, Yahaya Bello, for onward transmission to Tinubu.

The state chairman of NLC, Gabriel Amari, expressed concerns over the untold hardship caused by petrol subsidy removal. Amari said every social strata of society had been badly affected, including the haves.

Amari appealed to government at all levels to rise to the occasion to ameliorate the suffering of the masses, pleading that they should allow the poor to breathe.

The state NLC chairman presented a protest letter to the governor, who was represented by the deputy governor, Edward Onoja, for onward transmission to Tinubu.

In Kano, Protest Ground Commercial Activities

Thousands of protesters, led by the leadership of NLC, yesterday, took to the streets of Kano to protest the increase in petroleum pump price, occasioned by the fuel subsidy removal. The mass protest affected business activities, as most shops and businesses were shut down. The protest took place under tight security, as members of the Nigeria Police, Civil Defence, and other para-military organisations escorted the protesters to prevent any attempt by hoodlums to hijack the process. Members of the trade unions in Kano assembled at the Murtala Muhammad Library and proceeded to the venue, chanting solidarity messages.

The chairman of Kano State Chapter of NLC, Kabir Inuwa, delivered a letter to Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Bappar Bichi, who represented the state governor, Alhaji Abba Kabir Yusuf.

Inuwa, who read the letter to the crowd, lamented the untold hardship caused by the subsidy removal, which he said had caused rise in prices of commodity in the market.

Deputy Governor Leads Workers Protest in Niger

Niger State Deputy Governor, Yakubu Garba, Head of Service, Alhaji Salisu Abubakar, as well as the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ogundeji Ayodeji, yesterday, joined the organised labour to protest against the removal of fuel subsidy by the federal government.

The deputy governor, who is the immediate past chairman of NLC in the state, joined other protesters in the walk from the Labour House to the House of Assembly, alongside the Head of Service and the state police boss.

“For now, I am on the side of labour, labour will always ask for what it believes is good for the ordinary Nigerian,” Garba told newsmen after the peaceful protest.

He had promised to lead the workers on the protest to the Government House.

Receiving the protesters, Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Alhaji Abdulmalik Sarkin Daji, said the legislators were solidly behind Tinubus’ decision to remove subsidy from petrol even though its effect was painful.

Daji said the house had passed three motions on how the executive could cushion the effect of the subsidy removal. He said among them was for the silos to be opened for grains to be released to the public at subsidised rates.

Ondo NLC Joins Protest against ‘Anti-poor Policies’

In Ondo State, members of NLC, TUC and affiliate unions trooped out massively to join their counterparts across the country in a protest against the removal of petrol subsidy by Tinubu. Leading the protest to the Governor’s Office in Akure, the state capital, NLC Chairman in Ondo State, Victor Amoko, reiterated the need for the government to immediately reverse all anti-poor policies, and release the withheld salaries of ASUU, among others.

Amoko stated, “There must be an end to the suffering and smiling of workers. We have been spending 80 per cent of our salaries on transportation.

“There must be an end to that, too. Our refineries are aren’t working, our crude oil is being taken to countries that do not have oil and they refine it for us. A whole country like ours, the giant of Africa. It is quite unfortunate.”

Abia Workers Slam Tinubu’s Hasty Decision on Subsidy Removal

Thousands of protesters, comprising workers in the organised sector and civil society groups, poured into the streets of Umuahia, yesterday morning to protest the harsh economic situation in the country.

Led by the leadership of the Abia State Council of NLC, the protesters gathered at the Okpara Square as early as 7.30am.

By 8am labour leaders addressed the angry workers before they embarked on the march to Government House to register their grievances against the federal government.

The state chairman of NLC, Pascal Nweke, told the aggrieved workers that the protest was provoked by the anti-people policies of the Tinubu administration.

“The NLC and the TUC are here to make sure that what we were directed to do was done effectively,” he added. He lamented that Tinubu had hastily taken hard decisions without putting in place appropriate safety nets to cushion the effects of the economic policies.

“If the federal government says they want to remove oil subsidy, they should have started with the palliatives for us the workers also for the populace,” he said.

Chairman of TUC in the state, Comrade Ihechi Enogwe, corroborated his NLC counterpart, insisting that organised labour would not budge in this cause to protect workers and Nigerian masses.

Oyebanji Assures Workers of Better Welfare Package

Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Biodun Oyebanji, yesterday, assured the organised labour in the state of better welfare packages that would cushion the effects of the fuel subsidy removal on workers and the general public.

Oyebanji gave the assurance in Ado Ekiti while addressing protesting labour unions. He said his government had already set up a committee to meet with the organised labour to finalise proposals for palliatives aimed at cushioning the effect of the subsidy removal on the citizens.

The governor, who spoke through the Head of Service, Barrister Bamidele Agbede, said neither he nor Tinubu was unmindful of the effects of subsidy removal on the incomes of salary earners and other citizens.

Earlier in their separate addresses, the chairman of NLC, Ekiti State Chapter, Kolapo Olatunde, and the chairman of TUC, Sola Adigun, said the removal of fuel subsidy by the federal government was a welcome development that should better the lot of the masses, but it had turned out to be against the people because of the unfavourable exchange rate.

The labour leaders, who decried the hardship occasioned by the removal of fuel subsidy, noted that the step had paralysed almost all sectors of the country’s economy.

Bayelsa Workers Protest, Say Enough of Anti-people Policies

NLC, Bayelsa State Council, yesterday, staged a peaceful protest in Yenagoa, saying “enough is enough” to what they described as anti-people policies of the federal government.

As early as 7am, members of the organised labour gathered at Amarata, in the state capital, carrying placards with various inscriptions.

The protesters marched through Melford Okilo Road, chanting solidarity songs, down to Government House, where the Bayelsa State NLC chairman, Barnabas Simon, presented a letter to the governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri, for onward transmission to Tinubu, to register their objection to his policies since he took over leadership of Nigeria.

They described the federal government’s proposed N8,000 palliative to households to cushion the effects of fuel subsidy removal as an insult to Nigerians, urging the federal government to implement people-cantered agreements reached with organised labour.

The chairman of NLC in Bayelsa State read the labour union’s stance during the protest.

Simon stated, “NNPCL, a private company, should not determine fuel price for us, we protest against suppression and suffering of the Nigerian people.

“Hunger and poverty do not know any tribe, religion, party, or geopolitical arrangement.”

Jigawa Governor Sympathises with Workers

Jigawa State Governor, Malam Umar Namadi, expressed sympathy with the workers in the state over the current economic hardship due to the fuel subsidy removal.

Speaking when members of NLC and TUC took a message to the governor for onward delivery to Tinubu, Namadi expressed concern over the hardship Nigerians were facing as a result of the subsidy removal. The governor, who was represented by his deputy, Eng. Aminu Usman, assured the labour union that the state government was working hard to bring succour and improve the living standard of the people.

Bauchi NLC, TUC Join Nationwide Protest

NLC and TUC in Bauchi State, yesterday, joined the nationwide protest over the removal of fuel subsidy. They also accused the president of implementing anti-people policies, which brought hardship to the people of the country.

Members of organised labour commenced the procession from NLC House, along Railway Road, to Bauchi Emirs palace and terminated at state Secretariat.

Speaking to newsmen, the chairman, NLC, Bauchi State Council, Dauda Shuaibu, called on federal government to implement the agreement signed with organised labour.

Speaking also, the state chairman, TUC, Sabiu Barau, said the union would continue with the struggle until their demands were meet.

Responding to the demands on behalf of Governor Bala Muhammad, the Head of Service, Yahuza Adamu, said government was aware of the difficult situations people found themselves as a result of removal of fuel subsidy.

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