Following a nationwide protest on Wednesday, organized labour (NLC) has resolved to halt further action in its opposition to the elimination of fuel subsidy.
This was the result of a meeting between President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and labour 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.
Earlier in the day, employees protested around the country over the current administration’s decision to eliminate gasoline subsidies.
The demonstrations occurred after weeks of impasse between them and the administration.
The NLC, TUC, and other affiliate unions have called for the government’s decision to be reversed.
They turned to rallies when a National Industrial Court prevented them from launching a nationwide 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.
They are happy with the President’s pledges and are now ready to postpone further activities, the report said.
President Tinubu was alleged to have told the employees at the meeting that the Port-Harcourt refinery would undoubtedly begin production by December of this year.
The President is said to have made five important pledges during the meeting.
According to a statement attributed to the NLC President, Comrade Joe Ajaero, President Tinubu also vowed to ensure that an agreement on the Wage Award for Nigerian workers be achieved as soon as possible.
“Tinubu has promised to release a workable roadmap for the CNG alternative next week.”
“Tinubu 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, labour leaders are scheduled to make an official declaration regarding the halting of the demonstrations.
Meanwhile, employees around the country made strong remarks condemning the federal government for being callous to the predicament of residents.
Over 5,000 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 inside the assembly complex to express their rage.
The NLC in Kano State said that the Federal Government’s palliative approach to mitigate the consequences 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 added.
The message was similar in Kogi, where organised labour urged the Federal Government to reverse all policies that were working against Nigerians’ interests.
Comrade Gabriel Amari, Kogi State Chairman of the NLC, stated that the demonstration 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 newfound optimism when we voted for him.
“All of the anti-people policies must be reversed immediately before things get out of hand,” Amari said.
Subsidisation, according to their colleagues in Ogun, is a global practise.
Workers condemned the elimination of fuel subsidies, increases in education tuition, and VAT as anti-people measures.
They also demanded the return of university instructors’ withheld 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 subsidise 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 hurting; we have crude oil, but we’re still purchasing it from other countries; enough is enough,” Ademola added.
His counterpart at the TUC, Akeem Lasisi, stated that “subsidy is a global practise, 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 fuel prices would 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 strategy 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 organised labour 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 tolerate 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 match 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 gasoline 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 added.
Ben Asogwa, Chairman of the TUC in the State, claimed that when the notion of removing subsidy was proposed, the trade 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.