The National Assembly yesterday mandated its leadership to mediate between the Federal Government and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to avert a nationwide strike over the hike in the price of fuel.
NLC President Joe Ajaero had given an ultimatum to the Federal Government to rescind its decision on fuel subsidy removal or face strike from tomorrow.
NLC deploys officials to Lagos, other
The union insisted that the nationwide protest will hold as planned.
To demonstrate its resolve, the NLC has deployed officials from its headquarters in Abuja to Lagos and other key states to work with state councils to make the protest a success.
Head of Information, NLC, Benson Upah said nothing has changed about the decision.
He said the Congress has mobilised civil societies, its affiliates and state councils for the protest.
Upah said: “Nothing has changed yet. The protest will still go as planned. We have not changed the decision.
“”There are some people who have been designated to go to some state councils. Some peole have already moved to Lagos and some key states as part of preparation for the protest.
“The mobilisation is high and the morale of people, workers and civil society is high and the operational part of it is in top gear.
“Each state will decide where to gather. We cannot stay in Abuja and decide for state councils where they should call their workers to start from.”
To avert the industrial action, the Senate directed its leadership to wade into the brewing crisis.
Also, the House of Representatives resolved to meet with the NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to avert the strike.
However, Southsouth stakeholders said strike will worsen the situation in the country while the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) urged Nigerians to ignore the threat by Labour.
The resolution of the Senate followed a motion titled: “Urgent need to avert impending nationwide strike being called by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) over removal of fuel subsidy” sponsored by Senator Sulaiman Kawu (NNPP – Kano South).
Kawu said the strike would have a devastating effect on the nation’s economy.
Senators Isah Jibrin, Seriake Dickson and Solomon Adeola supported the motion, urging the NLC to shelve it and allow the palliatives being planned by the Federal Government to ameliorate the suffering of the people.
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Dickson said: “We must commend the President for having the courage to remove the fuel subsidy. The economic situation as a result of the removal has brought untold hardship on the people.
“Therefore the the need for more palliatives other than the N500billion already unveiled by the Federal Government.”
Senate President Godswill Akpabio called on state and local governments to ameliorate the suffering of the people, stressing that Nigeria cannot continue to use 98 per cent of its revenue to service fuel subsidy.
Reps to intervene in planned strike
The Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Akin Rotimi and his Labour, Employment and Productivity counterpart, Adegboyega Adefarati, appealed to Labour to shelve the planned action.
Rotimi said the Speaker will interface with the Executive to address the issues raised by the NLC.
Adefarati said: “This is a new administration and I can assure you that my president belongs to the progressive group. He has set up a committee headed by the Chief of Staff, and they have been meeting and interacting with the workers.
“Workers should look into the option of negotiation and dialogue rather than protest. A stable industrial and harmonious relationship is sine quo non to development.
“We are appealing to them to shelve the idea and wait for the outcome of the meeting. I believe that it will be a win-win situation for the country, even for the workers. I can assure them that any input they need from the House of Representatives, we are ready.
“Any agreement reached will be given swift and prompt action by the House. Like the issue of palliative, when the bill of N500 billion was brought to the House, it was given speedy approval because we are there to serve our people.”
Ondo Lawmaker begs Labour to shelve strike
Speaking at a press briefing in Akure, Adefarati also appealed to the striking National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) to consider the plight of Nigerians while pressing forward with their demands.
He called for a balanced approach that will consider the welfare of doctors and the well-being of the populace.
Rivers ex-Rep urge NLC to shelve strike
A former member of the House of Representatives from Rivers State, Ogbonna Nwuke, called on the NLC to suspend its decision on the strike.
Nwuke said the strike would only escalate the ongoing hardship instead of ameliorating it.
He added: “We must be very wary as Nigerians about the use of this instrument and the impact that it is likely to have on the economy. Past policies, including the retention of petroleum subsidy have not worked. Rather, such ill-thought out policies have encouraged leakages in the system and driven corruption to very high levels.
“The Nigerian people have not been the direct beneficiaries of the scams that have only benefited a few. We cannot pretend that the country and the rest of us who live in it have not felt pain.
“Should we continue to suffer pain just to sustain a feeding bottle strategy that has not brought any relief or should we feel pain in the short run that will change our circumstance in the long term? This is the question that we should ask ourselves as labor wields the big stick.”
PANDEF urges people to ignore NLC
Southsouth stakeholders urged NLC to reconsider its decision, saying that any industrial action at this time would only compound the woes of the people.
The President -General of Isoko Development Union (IDU), Prof. Chris Akpotu, said strike would aggravate the current economic hardship faced by Nigerians.
When asked whether strike was the answer, Akpotu said: “For me, certainly not. It’s just an attempt to aggravate the challenges that the Nigerian man is already facing. The government came up with a policy. One would have ordinarily expected that we take time to observe the entire spectrum of the implementation of this policy.
“The policy may have come ab initio with hardship on Nigerians, but what is going to be the long-term gain of this policy is what we should be looking at.”
PANDEF urged patriotic Nigerians to ignore the call for mass action against the President Tinubu’s administration by NLC.
Its National Publicity Secretary, Ken Robinson, said Labour had become stereotyped and predictable.
He called for dialogue and negotiation between the Federal Government and the unions, stressing that when such options fail, a recourse to a strike action is justified.
The group maintained the call for mass action by NLC is tainted with insinuations, adding that during last presidential election, the Labour Unions were partisan.
He said: “The Labour Congress is becoming stereotyped. Unionism should not be about strike only. There are times when you have to evaluate the realities and adopt other methods. Dialogue and negotiation cannot be ruled out…. With the realities in the country,calling for mass action is unfortunate. Strike is not needed now.
“I am certain majority of patriotic Nigerians, even civil servants, will not heed the call because NLC was unable to distinguish itself from Labour Party and was involved in the presidential poll as if NLC and TUC were political parties. The action being taken by President Tinubu, i.e. fuel subsidy removal, should have been taken twenty years ago. Patriotic Nigerians should rise up against the NLC and tell them enough is enough.”
A human rights activist, Comrade Alagoa Morris, said strike should only become necessary when all reconciliatory efforts fail to yield the desired results.
He called for understanding between the organised labour and the government to avert the action.
Morris, a former Secretary of the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), urged the government to do the needful to discourage the industrial action. He also called for the slashing of humongous allowances paid to political office holders.
The Bayelsa State Coordinator, Environmental Right Action and Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), said: “Industrial action or strike is a weapon and bargaining tool available to industrial unions or students union, etc; especially when all other options fail to yield desired results.
“It is seen as a last resort to make the other party to come to further look at the issues at stake; the crux of the matter.
“At a time like this, the minimum Nigerians should expect from those occupying political offices is sacrifice rather than loosening their belts while the masses tighten theirs. What some of us would have been happy to hear, and justifiably too, is for the allowances of political office holders, from those at the Presidency to local government be slashed.
“The development will be seen as a way of showing genuine concern and being sensitive to the plight of those who have no jobs, those whose businesses are no longer thriving, the ordinary civil servants, farmers and fisher folks.”
Northern Elders urge patience with Tinubu
Northern Elders Forum (NEF) pleaded with Nigerians to be patient with the administration.
The Director, Publicity and Advocacy of the forum, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, in a statement in Abuja, said Nigerians want to know what the administration plans to do to bring the past to book.
He said: “The administration must hasten to provide relief to millions of Nigerians who are facing imminent starvation and total loss of any means to earn an honest living. Time and an informed targeting with a good chance of massive impact are of the essence here.
“It is important to mention here that amounts being handed over to State Governors to design palliatives are unlikely to make the type of impact that should keep hungry and desperate populations patiently waiting.”
Bear with, pray for President Tinubu, Lam-Adesina urges Nigerians
All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain Adedapo Lam-Adesina urged Nigerians to be patient with the Federal Government.
He said in a statement that Tinubu will not fail Nigeria.
According to the All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain, he said: “I am aware of the challenges being faced by Nigerians.
He said: “President Bola Tinubu means well, especially by making that tough decision of removing subsidy on his first day in office. That action alone, sounded a death knell for oil cabals.
Lam-Adesina added: “What you are seeing is just one of the after-effect when such action is taken. We are almost out of the woods as the hardships of the moment will eventually give way for a more prosperous, equitable and inclusive economy.
“It isn’t that he deliberately placed hardship on Nigerians. The subsidy that was removed has made the market a free one now.
“Though there is a form of control, the rise in the cost of premium motor spirit is a result of the pricing across the global market which Nigeria is not an exception. So we have got to exercise patience. It is a patience that is time-bound.”