Home Columnist Labour ignores FG’s warning, plans for nationwide protest

Labour ignores FG’s warning, plans for nationwide protest

Labour ignores FG’s warning, plans for nationwide protest

Members of the organised labour comprising both the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress have maintained their earlier stance that they would not back down on the nationwide protest billed to hold on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively.

This is coming amidst a series of warnings from various government quarters to the congress to should shelve its planned nationwide action in the interest of peace.

First to give its warning was the Department of State Services, who said, through its spokesman, Peter Afunanya, that the organised labour should negotiate with the government officials rather than embarking on an action that might affect national security.

In the same vein, the Attorney-General of the Federation, Lateef Fagbemi, said the action of the organised labour would be contemptuous if they embarked on the protest, citing two ex parte orders previously granted by the National Industrial Court.

But members of the organised labour and some civil society organisations, maintained that no level of blackmail, threats or warning from the government would make them to back down on their decision, saying the protest would be peaceful.

In an interview with Daily Trust, the Head of Information, NLC headquarters, Benson Upah, confirmed that members of the Congress were mobilising across the States, insisting that they have been working through the weekend to fine-tune how peaceful the protest would be.

“What I can tell you is that, mobilisation is going on with high spirits. We had commenced mobilisation since February 22 when the ultimatum expired. We’re working through the weekend to ensure that things are put in place,” Upah told our correspondent in a telephone interview.

Similarly, members of Joint Action Front (JAF), Coalition for Revolution (CORE) and other CSOs said they would come out en masse to protest against rising inflation, insecurity among other challenges being faced.

In a public notice shared on X y, the oanisations listed their demands as reversal of subsidy removal policy, stoppage of galloping inflation, stoppage of current increase in school fees among others.

Daily Trust reports that the protest, billed to hold across 36 States of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory simultaneously would be led by the President of NLC, Joe Ajaero, his counterpart from TUC, Festus Osifo, and the State chairmen of the Congresses.

Speaking on Sunday, NLC President, Ajaero alleged that the movement had uncovered a series of plots have already been put in place by the federal government to thwart its nationwide protest, insisting members of the movement remained undaunted.

Ajaero, while reacting to Daily Trust’s enquiry on whether the Congress has shelved its planned protest as advised by the Department of State Services (DSS), said there was no justification on ground to heed the advice.

Specifically, the labour leader said it has unmasked one civil society, which he described as “nebulous”, Nigeria Civil Society Forum (NCSF), as one of the organisations being pushed forward to unleash mayhem on the peaceful protesters nationwide.

Ajaero called on the United Nations and African Union to rein in on President Bola Tinubu by calling him to order in using forces to suppress peaceful protesters, adding that it should be noted that the protest was not about NLC but hungry Nigerians.

He said, “We would want to inform Nigerians that the State has perfected plans to attack our peaceful rallies across the country. One of the groups being primed to attack our peaceful rallies is by a nebulous name, Nigeria Civil Society Forum (NCSF).

“NCSF is one of the emergency groups put together, funded, promoted and remote-controlled by government to cause violence against our members for electing to peacefully protest against the hunger in the land.

“We would want the State to know that the solution to our horrible economic situation and hunger is not by  suppressing peaceful dissent or inflicting violence on peacefully protesting citizens as the government did in Minna and other cities where its agents tear-gassed and  beat up women before locking them up for raising their voice against hunger.

“It does not lie in the deployment of State -sponsored terror. The pangs of hunger cannot be cowed by bullets or tear gas. In light of this, we at the Nigeria Labour Congress and civil society allies are moving ahead with our protest rallies against economic hardship and insecurity in line with the decision of the National Executive Council.

“As citizens, we have a fundamental right to peaceful protest and history bears us witness that our protests are always peaceful except in instances of State-engineered violence.”

Speaking further, the labour leader added, “In light of this, we advise the State to put on its thinking cap and find solutions to the pains it continues to cause the people instead of further dehumanising them.

“However, if it is irrevocably set on the path of violence against us and other peace-loving Nigerians, it will be making a costly mistake because if we are attacked there will be a total shut down via withdrawal of services by workers.

“Let no one be deceived, we and other deprived Nigerians cannot easily be intimidated. Lest those in power now who may have forgotten be reminded, we faced a more resourceful and resilient adversary in order to have democracy.

“All we are saying now is that; let there be food for the people, let the people live in safety, let the people live a life of dignity devoid of suffocating  IMF/World Bank economic policies.

“Once again we advise those waiting in the wings to unleash violence on us that this is not about the NLC but about Nigerians who are saying “enough is enough”, about a people who have resolved not to be further pushed into the pit of misery and hopelessness, while a few live in obscene luxury at our collective expense.”

(Daily Trust)




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