NLC rejects DSS’ warning to shelve planned protest

There is a disagreement between the Department of State Services (DSS) and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) over next week’s planned protest against the hardship caused by the withdrawal of petrol subsidy.

Second labour centre, the Trade Union Congress (TUC), yesterday disowned the planned protest, describing it as a “unilateral action” by the NLC.

The NLC last week declared a two-day protest for Tuesday and Wednesday to follow the end of its two-week ultimatum for the government to fully implement the 16-point agreement reached last October.

But the DSS kicked against the protest, saying it might be hijacked by hoodlums to create chaos.

The DSS, in a statement by its Director of Public Relations and Strategic Communications, Dr. Peter Afunanya, said: “The attention of the DSS has been drawn to plans by sections of the organised labour to stage protests between 27th and 28th February 2024 in parts of the country over sundry economic issues.

 

 

 

“While the service recognises such action as the legitimate right of the labour movement, it, however, urges the body to shelve the plan in the interest of peace and public order.

“The DSS further calls on parties to pursue dialogue and negotiation rather than engaging in conducts that could heighten tensions.

“This is more so that the Service is aware that some elements are planning to use the opportunity of the protest to foment crisis and by extension, widespread violence.

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“The development, without doubt, will worsen the socio-economic situation across the country.

“It is common knowledge that all levels of government are striving to ameliorate the prevailing economic condition and as such, should be given a benefit of the doubt.

“So far, appropriate authorities are working assiduously with a spectrum of stakeholders to fashion out modalities to address the current difficulties.

“They should, therefore, be given the chance to handle the challenges at hand.

“In this vein, citizens are encouraged to recognise that what remains unsolved in peacetime, would not be attained in war-time.

“The timeless piece of the esteemed Poet, JP Clark, ‘The Casualties’ is a resonating reminder to us of the possible dangers of escalated conflicts. In times of trouble, everyone will be a casualty.

“Also, ongoing wars in the global scene are a stark reminder of their catastrophic repercussions on the affected countries’ domestic environments thus, the critical need to protect and maintain our internal stability and unity.

“Those exploiting the fault lines in the country need to have a rethink as resorting to negativities will endanger our peaceful coexistence with dire consequences.

“Similarly, parents and guardians are implored to exert authority in guiding their children and wards from inimical acts capable of jeopardising public safety and harmony.

“Additionally, all sectors, including political parties, opposition groups, religious and traditional institutions, civil society and non-governmental bodies are called upon to eschew violence; and demonstrate leadership and statesmanship in these challenging times.

“Making political capital out of the current situation or involving in divisive utterances at a time like this, will be of no benefit to any peace-loving Nigerian.

“Citizens are advised to be vigilant and not allow fifth columnists and hostile forces or agents to use them to destabilise the peace of the nation.

“The DSS stands opposed to violence as a means of settling our present-day challenges, be they economic, political or otherwise.

“Accordingly, the service will work with sister security and law enforcement agencies to ensure that lasting peace is maintained in the country.”

But the NLC dismissed DSS’ claim, saying the protest would be peaceful. It wondered when the secret service became the “spokesperson for the government”.

The labour centre, in a statement by its president Joe Ajaero, said: “We are concerned by the unsolicited advice of the DSS to shelve our planned protest against the unprecedented high cost of living in spite of the indescribable suffering in the land, spiraling inflation, deepening poverty and the naira at an exchange rate of N1,900 to a dollar.

“According to the Service, the planned protest should be shelved ‘in the interest of peace and public order,’ pre-supposing that the action is intended to be violent and disruptive even when we have a history of peaceful protests.

“More worrying is the new role the service has assigned to itself, the chief spokesperson of the government.

“According to the Service, ‘It is common knowledge that all levels of government are striving to ameliorate the prevailing economic condition and as such, should be given a benefit of the doubt…’

“We are equally worried that although the Service is ‘aware that some elements are planning to use the opportunity of the protest to foment crisis and by extension, widespread violence,’ it has not executed the arrest of these elements.

“Having said this, we would not have ourselves blackmailed or lied against by the Service.

“Our protest is a peaceful one against the unpardonable cost of living of which the unserviced personnel of the Service are also victims.

“We cannot fold our hands and pretend all is well. That will be a grievous conspiracy that history will not forgive.”

<<The Nation>>