NLC suspends protest, lists demands


..FG gets March 13 ultimatum

By Ukpono Ukpong, Haruna Salami, Kinsley Chukwuma, Samuel Luka, Stephen Gbadamosi,Tom Garba, Kehinde Akinpelu, Okioma Amos

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), has suspended its street action for the second day of the nationwide protest scheduled for Wednesday (today).

The NLC called off the protest after executing the first leg on Tuesday across many states without hindrance.

It has given the Federal Government up to March 13 to address its catalogue of demands failing which it threatened to resume the protest on a larger scale.

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Instead, the Congress has opted to hold simultaneous press conferences across all the states of the federation by the state councils of the Congress, including the national headquarters.

The Congress had called for a two-day nationwide protest for Tuesday and Wednesday, over the economic hardship in the country.

In a communique issued at the end of its National Executive Council (NEC), meeting on Tuesday, the NEC-in-session reviewed the entire process and resolved to adopt new strategies.

The communique read, “The NEC of Congress in session on February 16th, 2024, ordered a two-day nationwide protest to join Nigerians in demonstrating outrage over the massive suffering and hunger facing the masses and workers as a result of the policies of the government to hike the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) and float the Naira.

“The NEC-in-session therefore reviewed the execution of the first day of the nationwide protest to assess its effectiveness and take decision on further necessary action to guide Congress in its effort at engaging government to protect the people and Nigerian workers from the increasing scourge of hardship.

“To this end, NEC commended Nigerians, all NLC affiliates, state Councils, workers and civil society allies across the nation for trooping out in large numbers to peacefully demonstrate their outrage on the hardship imposed by the government and its twin altars – the IMF and the World Bank.

“NEC also deeply appreciates Nigerian workers and masses for sending a strong message to the powers that be on their united resolve to demand accountability from those who occupy positions of leadership in our nation. It believed that the message has strongly resonated.

“Consequently, NEC-in-session resolved as follows: To suspend street action for the second day of the protest having achieved overwhelming success thus attained the key objectives of the two-day protest on the first day.

“However, nationwide action continues tomorrow with simultaneous press conferences across all the states of the federation by the state councils of the Congress including the national headquarters.

“To reaffirm and extend the 7-day ultimatum by another 7 days, which now expires on the 13th day of March, 2024 within which the Government is expected to implement all the earlier agreements of the 2nd day of October, 2023 and other demands presented in our letter during today’s nationwide protest.

“To meet and decide on further lines of action if on the expiration of the 14 days, the government refuses to comply with the demands as contained in the ultimatum.

“Once again, NEC recommits the NLC to continue defending and promoting the interests and desires of Nigerian workers and the downtrodden masses.”

Ajaero on Tuesday led the day-one of protest in Abuja, flanked by the leadership of all affiliate unions of NLC and civil society organisations, marched to the National Assembly complex where they tabled their demands.

Addressing the National Assembly leadership, Ajaero said Nigerians are tired of the “many theoretical or rhetorical solutions” being proffered by the federal government to the ravages of hunger in the country.

He charged the government to bring up practical measures to quell hunger and the worsening hardship in the country.

Saying that hunger in Nigeria required urgent intervention, Ajaero further charged President Bola Tinubu to show capacity by taking immediate actions that will reverse the current hardship.

“This is not to use theoretical or rhetorical solutions. Serious intervention actions must be taken by the government immediately to save the citizens from death and the country from civil unrest.

“Across Nigeria, the murmuring and dissenting voice of displeasure is growing stronger by the day. It will be unfortunate and regrettable if the government allowed the voices in the shadows snowball into a mob action. Our rally today is a kind of early warning to what may come if government hesitate to act now.

“Members of the National Assembly should know that they will not be spared if things go out of hand. We are not coming here every time to register displeasure or submit letter for the fun of it. If you refuse to take action too, you will equally have yourselves to blame,” Ajaero said.

Receiving a letter from the protesting workers, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Labour and Productivity, Senator Diket Plang, said the demand of Labour and civil society organisation allies will be discussed at the plenary of both the Senate and House of Representatives. He assured that the Senate President will transmit the demands of workers to President Tinubu and ensure urgent action is taken to end the hardship.

In the letter, addressed to President Tinubu through the National Assembly, NLC made the following demands:

  • Employment generation through massive investment in agriculture and value-added manufacturing.
  • Immediate subsidy to farmers to boost agricultural production and food security and opening up food storage silos and enforce equitable distribution across the country.
  • Immediate fixing of abandoned factories and revival of local production and patronage of made-in-Nigeria goods and services.
  • Fixing of the four refineries as a matter of urgent national priority and making electricity and water available, affordable and accessible to all citizens.
  • Masive investment in road/rail infrastructure and social housing.
  • Immediate deployment of cheap CNG powered mass transportation buses to ease the crisis of transportation for the poor.
  • Putting an end to further privatisation and liberalisation of the economy and taking control of the commanding heights of the economy, in the line with section 16 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
  • Going after oil subsidy cabal and other economic saboteurs instead of helpless Nigerians.
  • Putting a stop to the dollarisation of the Nigerian economy and putting a stop to all wasteful spending and profligacy in government.
  • Proper and adequate funding of education and health care at all levels and adequate provision for social security for the aged and the vulnerable.
  • Paying all outstanding wages and pensions at all tiers of the government.
  • Fast-tracking negotiation and implementation of the new national minimum wage.
  • Rejecting IMF/World Bank policies as they bring extreme hardship to Nigerians as well as imperil the country’s security and sovereignty.

The protest was also staged in Oyo, Osun, Niger, Bauchi, Plateau, Lagos, Adamawa, Kano, Borno and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) among many others.

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