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The NLC, Organized Labour To Hold Mass Protest Price Hike

The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, in collaboration with members of organized labour have decided to give the government a two-week ultimatum in which to revert the increase in pump price of petrol and the hike in electricity tariff. It has scheduled a nationwide strike on the 28th of September, 2020 given the failure of government to rescind its decision. The National Executive Council, NEC, the highest decision-making organ of the NLC ratified the decision of the Central Working Committee, CWC, of the body. The NLC has therefore directed all State Councils to intensify the mobilization of workers and other Nigerians for the scheduled strike action.

Speaking after the NEC’s meeting, Ayubba Wabba, President of the NLC, condemned the fixing of prices of electricity and petrol without consultations with Nigerians. He also lamented that the increases have erased the gains of the minimum wage of N30,000 signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari, judging by the current state of things, especially with high rate of inflation.

Wabba said many Nigerian workers are struggling to survive because of the high cost of living caused by government’s recent policies which include increase in the Value Added Tax (VAT). He advised the Federal Government to the cries of workers and other suffering Nigerians and rescind the increases, in the interest of industrial peace and social order, failure to meet the demands would make the planned strike and mass protest inevitable. He described the decision of government on electricity and fuel as ‘ill-timed’ and ‘counterproductive’ at a time when Nigerians were still grappling with the shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The NLC criticized government’s privatization of the electricity sector, noting that it sold the sector for N400 billion and injected N1.5billion in the last four years without accruing a commensurate or palatable sum. ‘Therefore, NEC came to the conclusion that the entire privatization process has failed and the electricity hike is actually a process of continuous exploitation of Nigerians.’

The Labour organization also commented on the deregulation of the petroleum sector. It asserted that Government continues to pay lip service to lasting solutions to the sector because it has refused to revitalize three refineries in the country therefore it relying on the foreign refinery partnerships to cater for Nigeria’s needs. NLC also asserted that Government must involve itself in business in order to protect the social, spatial and economic interest of the common man like some other countries in the world.

‘The National Executive Council of the Nigeria Labor Congress, comprising members of the National Administrative Council, President and General Secretary of members of the affiliate unions and our state council chairpersons and secretaries of the 36 states and FCT met today (yesterday)…‘NEC resolved to reject in its entirety the issue of hike in electricity tariffs by almost 100 percent as well as the fuel price increase in the name of full deregulation. This decision is premised on the fact that this twin decision, alongside other decisions of government, including the increase of VAT by 7.5 per cent, numerous charges being charged by commercial banks on depositor’s funds without any explanations, will further impoverish Nigerian workers, citizens and their families.

‘In the light of these, NEC decided to endorse the two-week ultimatum given to the federal government to reverse those obnoxious decisions and also pronounce that the action proposed by the Central Working Committee is hereby endorsed by NEC that 28th of September should be the date that those decisions should be challenged by Nigerian workers, our civil society allies and other labor centre’s.’

Peace Omenka

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