Regina Otokpa Abuja
The Trade Union Congress (TUC), yesterday, said it will join forces with the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to shut down economic activities in Nigeria on September 28, should the Federal Government refuse to reverse the recent increase in the pump price of petrol and hike in electricity tariff.
The resolution came just as the National Executive Council (NEC) of the NLC ratified the earlier decision of its Central Working Committee (CWC) to stage a nationwide protest on September 28 over government’s unfavourable policies.
TUC had, a week ago, issued a seven-day ultimatum to the government, seeking to embark on an industrial action by September 23 should the Federal Government fail to reverse its obnoxious policies on subsidy in the energy sector.
However, a statement issued yesterday in Abuja, said that ultimatum has been shifted to coincide with a similar ultimatum issued by the NLC. TUC President, Comrade Quadri Olaleye and its Secretary General, Comrade Musa-Lawal Ozigi, in a statement, also called on the international community to place visa ban on all corrupt Nigerian politicians who have looted the resources of the country.
TUC said: “After an exhaustive meeting held to review its mobilisation strategies on the forthcoming strike to protest fuel hike and electricity tariff, resolved that the Congress is going to work in collaboration with its sister Labour Centre, the NLC and the Civil Society allies to execute the strike.
“Consequent upon this, the ultimatum which should expire by midnight of today 22nd September, 2020 has been shifted to 28th September, 2020 for effective and maximum effect. We want to use this opportunity to call on Nigerians, especially those in the informal sector, to bear with us while the industrial action lasts. “There is no need for the pains we bear. It is a needless one.
They ask us to tighten our belts while they loosen theirs. Services are not rendered, yet we are compelled to pay estimated bills. You will recall that this government, during its election campaigns in 2014, told the world there is nothing like subsidy.
We were told that they will build refineries. That is all history now. We run a mono economy and any hike in fuel automatically will have adverse effect on us yet successive governments tow that path because they are not creative. “As at today, about eight states are yet to commence the payment of new minimum wage and its consequential adjustment, even though the president signed it into law on April 18, 2019.
We have written letters to the governors and also engaged them in dialogue, but all to no avail. Sometimes we wonder if these people have conscience at all. “The Congress hereby appeals to all Nigerians to get ready for the unprecedented mass action against corruption, obnoxious policies, rape and other violent offences, breach of Collective Agreement, unemployment, etc.
We also call on the USA, UK, Germany, Spain, etc. to support our struggle by placing indefinite visa ban on our political leaders whose stock in trade is to loot and impoverish the masses and the country.
We can no longer take it. Enough is Enough!”
Meanwhile, the NLC has also condemned the increment in bank charges, Value Added Tax (VAT) and other sundry charges. The labour union advised the Federal Government to review these policies. It said that the only sustainable solution to fuel price increases was the immediate revamping of the nation’s refineries and putting them into operation.
President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba, who conveyed the position of labour at the end of the NEC meeting yesterday, said Congress endorsed the strike and protest actions put forward earlier by its CWC, to shut down the entire Nigerian economy on September 28. “NEC resolved to reject in its entirety, the issue of hike in electricity tariff by almost 100 per cent.
Also, NEC resolved to reject the fuel price increase in the name of full deregulation. “This decision is premised on the fact that, these decisions alongside other decisions of government or policies which include increase of VAT by 7.5 per cent, including the various sundry charges being charged by commercial banks on debits without explanation will further impoverish Nigerian workers and citizens including their families.
These increases coming in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic are counter-productive. “NEC also observed that the privatisation of the electricity sector seven years down the line has not yielded any positive results.
Perhaps, the entire privatisation process of the entire sector was sold at about N400 billion; we are also surprised that government, in the last four years, injected N1.5 trillion over and above the amount used in selling these very important assets.
“Therefore, NEC came to the conclusion that the entire privatisation process has failed, and the electricity hike is actually a conduit of continuous exploitation of Nigerians. “On the issue of the refineries and also the increase in the pump price of fuel, this particular issue has been on the table for more than three decades.
The argument has not changed whether it’s in the name of full deregulation, subsidy removal what is obvious is this fuel price hike. This has further eroded the gains of the N30,000 minimum wage because it has serial effects which includes the high cost of goods and services, and the reduction in the purchasing power of ordinary Nigerians.
“NEC thought that the issue of the deregulation will be a continuous exploitation if it is import driven.
While demanding that our three refineries should be made to work optimally to benefit Nigerians, NEC also concluded that government has a business because the primary purpose of governance is about the security and welfare of the people. “If in other OPEC countries governments are maintaining refineries and they are working optimally for the benefit of the people, Nigeria cannot be an exception.
“In line with all of these, NEC decided to endorse the two weeks ultimatum given to the Federal Government to try and reverse those obnoxious decisions. It is also pronounced that the actions proposed by the Central Working Committee is hereby endorsed by the NEC that 28 of September will be a date that those actions would be challenged by Nigerian workers, our civil society allies and also other union movements,” Wabba said