Following a statewide protest on Wednesday, organized Labour has resolved to halt further action in its opposition to the elimination of fuel subsidies.
This was the result of a meeting between President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and labor representatives.
The meeting was attended by the President of the Nigerian Labour Congress, Joe Ajaero, and his counterpart from the Trade Union Congress, Festus Osifo.
According to the DAILY POST, employees protested earlier in the day across the country against the current administration’s decision to eliminate fuel subsidies.
The protests came after weeks of impasse between them and the government.
The NLC, TUC, and other affiliate unions have called for the government’s decision to be reversed.
They turned to rallies after a National Industrial Court prevented them from launching a statewide strike on Wednesday, June 7, 2023.
A few hours after protests were staged around the country, labour groups met with President Tinubu at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa.
According to DAILY POST, they are satisfied with the President’s pledges and are now ready to postpone further activities.
President Tinubu was alleged to have told the workers at the meeting that the Port-Harcourt refinery will undoubtedly begin production by December of this year.
The President is said to have made five important commitments during the meeting.
According to a message attributed to the NLC President, Comrade Joe Ajaero, President Tinubu also vowed to ensure that an agreement on the Wage Award for Nigerian workers is reached as soon as possible.
“PBAT (President Bola Ahmed Tinubu) promised next week to unveil a workable roadmap for the CNG alternative.”
“PBAT committed to an immediate restructuring of the engagement framework in accordance with the input of Labour leaders.”
“We have decided to return to a new and reinvigorated dialogue process to allow for full implementation,” the NLC platform message stated.
On Thursday, labor officials are expected to make a formal announcement regarding the halting of the protests.
Meanwhile, employees around the country made bold statements condemning the federal government for being callous to the predicament of citizens.
Over 5000 protestors stormed the National Assembly in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
They gathered initially at Abuja’s Unity Fountain, then marched to the Federal Ministry of Justice before heading to the National Assembly.
However, after security authorities refused to permit them admission, the irate protestors tore down the gates and thronged into the assembly complex to vent their rage.
The NLC in Kano State claimed that the Federal Government’s palliative approach to mitigate the effects of the elimination of gasoline subsidies was dishonest.
The Kano chapter bemoaned the fact that President Tinubu imposed unpopular policies on the people only two months into his office.
Kabiru Inuwa, Kano NLC Chairman, stated that the union was not a political party and would never play politics with Nigerians’ lives.
“Tinubu should allow the people to breathe. “The palliative he promised should be shared as soon as possible,” he said.
The message was similar in Kogi, where organized labour urged the Federal Government to stop all policies that were working against Nigerians’ interests.
Comrade Gabriel Amari, Kogi State Chairman of the NLC, stated that the protest was in response to the hardships being experienced by Nigerians and that if immediate action was not taken, it may lead to national instability.
“Nigerians are living through the worst period of their lives.” President Tinubu did not give us renewed optimism when we voted for him.
“All of the anti-people policies must be reversed immediately before things get out of hand,” Amari said.
Subsidization, according to their counterparts in Ogun, is a global practice.
Workers characterized the elimination of gasoline subsidies, increases in education tuition, and VAT as anti-people policies.
They also demanded the return of university instructors’ withholding pay for the previous eight months, as well as an end to the government’s “inhuman actions” and policies.
“Let the poor breathe, don’t suffocate them,” “Stop the importation of petrol, revive the refineries now!” “Stop the looting, tax the rich, and subsidize the poor,” and “Give workers what is due.”
“We have to be on the street, 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,” said Hammed Ademola, the NLC Chairman in Ogun.
“The removal of fuel subsidies has caused enormous hardship to the people of this country.” We’re suffering, we have crude oil, but we’re still buying it from other countries; enough is enough,” Ademola added.
His counterpart at the TUC, Akeem Lasisi, stated that “subsidy is a global practice, so it is unfortunate in this country that our own subsidy is marred with corruption.”
The TUC head went on to say that “rather than removing subsidy, the government should remove subsidy corruption.”
Workers in Bayelsa warned the President that rising gasoline prices lead to increased poverty and criminality.
Comrade Barnabas Simon, State Chairman of the NLC, stated that the elimination of the gasoline subsidy was abrupt, with no thought out plan to cushion the effects on workers, and that the N8,000 cash transfer palliative to a thousand people was an insult to Nigerians.
“Permit me to remind the government that it was expected that organized labor would have been consulted and brought to the negotiation table to seek ways of mitigating the effects of subsidy removal on ordinary Nigerians,” they added.
Similarly, the chairman of the NLC in Anambra State, Comrade Humphrey Emeka Nwafor, stated that the masses could no longer bear the pain.
“The hardship Nigerians are experiencing under President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s current administration is too much,” he stated.
“Other Nigerians should also speak out against the country’s current economic situation.” We demand that the FG pay the University workers’ 8-month salaries.
“The FG should not allow private companies to determine petroleum product price increases for Nigerians when we have our own regulatory agency.” We are refusing the N8,000 palliative.
“This protest march serves as a warning to the Federal Government to do what is right in order to save Nigerians from hardship.”
In Enugu State, the NLC Chairman, Fabian Nwigbo, accused the Bola Tinubu-led administration of ambushing Nigerians on their first day in office by removing fuel subsidies, which more than quadrupled the people’s suffering.
“The government’s anti-human policies continue to affect our people, and some of them are dying as a result.”
“We are tired of what is happening, the N30,000 minimum wage cannot even fill the tank of a tricycle, and that is what some of us are earning and using to feed our families,” he said.
Ben Asogwa, Chairman of the TUC in the State, claimed that when the notion of removing subsidies was proposed, the labor unions fought it.
“When the government insisted, we requested that they restart our refineries and convert our vehicles to gas-powered vehicles to make it cheaper for us, as well as raise our minimum wage.”
“But none of that was done; we are not happy with the sufferings we are going through,” he explained.