NLC Advocates For Protests After Negotiations Collapse
NLC Advocates For Protests After Negotiations Collapse

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) remains steadfast in its decision to proceed with today’s protest against the removal of fuel subsidies, as discussions with the Federal Government on immediate relief measures have broken down.

Concurrently, the Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, has issued a stern warning, indicating that the police will not tolerate any form of violent protest orchestrated by the NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC).

During a recent meeting of the Presidential Steering Committee on Palliatives, the Federal Government made an earnest appeal to the labor union to reconsider the planned protest, asserting that it is actively undertaking measures to address the raised concerns.

Simultaneously, on the same day, the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) instructed its affiliated unions and all 36 state councils to wholeheartedly participate in the impending protest.

This development transpires as pro-labor civil society organizations, operating under the banners of the Joint Action Front (JAF) and the Campaign for Democratic Workers Rights (CDWR), have called on their members nationwide to mobilize and actively partake in the protest.

Recall that the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) had earlier issued directives for its affiliates across the nation to also mobilize in preparation for today’s scheduled protest.

The rationale behind the Inspector General of Police’s warning stems from the unfortunate history of previous protests in major urban centers across the country, underscoring the need to prevent any recurrence of disorder.

In a statement relayed from Abuja, the Force Public Relations Officer, ACP Muyiwa Adejobi, conveyed the sentiments of the Acting Inspector-General of Police, IGP Kayode Adeolu Egbetokun, who expressed deep concern about the unfolding events surrounding the planned nationwide protests by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC).

While upholding the constitutional right to peaceful protest, the IGP has strongly urged all parties involved to ensure that the impending demonstrations are conducted in a peaceful manner, without falling prey to any unruly elements.

The IGP duly recognizes the legitimate grievances put forth by the labor unions and underscores the indispensable role of constructive dialogue in addressing these issues.

Considering these circumstances, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) has taken decisive action, instructing the Commissioners of Police overseeing various commands and supervisory Assistant Inspectors-General of Police to initiate productive discussions with the leadership of the NLC and TUC. The primary aim is to foster mutual understanding and find common ground regarding the planned protests.

The IGP recognizes that a peaceful and well-coordinated approach is of paramount importance to achieve meaningful resolutions and avert any potential violence or disruptions to public order in the event that the protests continue.

The Nigeria Police Force is resolutely committed to upholding the safety and security of all citizens throughout the duration of the planned protests. Comprehensive measures have been put in place to facilitate the peaceful conduct of these demonstrations.

However, it is strongly reiterated that any endeavors by troublemakers to exploit the situation for violent purposes such as vandalism, gang-related activities, and extortion will be met with unwavering, professional, and appropriate legal action.

The Police unequivocally assert their intolerance towards any actions that jeopardize the peace and well-being of the nation. Given the potential challenges associated with the impending protests, the Nigeria Police Force is fully equipped to deploy all available resources in order to uphold law and order, safeguard lives, and protect property belonging to the citizenry.

In light of these circumstances, the IGP calls upon all police officers to exercise vigilance, and professionalism, and uphold the highest standards of conduct throughout this period.

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Furthermore, the Police Chief urges all stakeholders, including the NLC, TUC, and various civil society groups, to embrace peaceful dialogue as the most efficacious means of resolving grievances. He restates the Police’s unwavering commitment to ensuring a secure and conducive environment that facilitates open dialogue, constructive engagement, and mutual understanding, thereby enabling the seamless exercise of civil rights.

FG appeals to labour to suspend protest

Despite the warning from the Inspector General of Police (IGP), the federal government made a plea to organized labor, urging them to suspend the planned strike. The government assured that it was taking significant steps to alleviate the hardships caused by the removal of petrol subsidy.

However, organized labor expressed dissatisfaction with the palliatives presented by the President in his nationwide broadcast on Monday night. They deemed these measures to be inadequate in mitigating the widespread suffering experienced by the populace.

Interestingly, the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Joe Ajaero, was conspicuously absent from the meeting where these discussions took place. Despite the government’s appeal, the NLC reiterated its determination to proceed with the proposed national protest on Wednesday.

Following the meeting of the Presidential Steering Committee on Palliatives held at the State House in Abuja, the Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila, implored organized labor to halt the planned protest. He emphasized that the President’s interventions, outlined in his recent broadcast, were preliminary and that ongoing discussions would address the concerns.

In response, the NLC, led by its Deputy President, Comrade Titus Amba, criticized the lack of substantial progress. They contended that the President’s broadcast and the presented palliatives, though highlighted as a starting point, were inadequate and unable to effectively address the issues at hand.

The Trade Union Congress (TUC) President, Festus Osifo, shared insights from the meeting, stating that the proposals put forward by the government were considered insufficient. TUC highlighted gaps and expressed the need for more comprehensive solutions. They stressed that certain measures, such as the provision of 3,000 CNG buses, were grossly inadequate when divided among the states.

The issue of minimum wage increase was also raised. Osifo explained that labor advocated for a wage award, particularly for states that had independently increased the minimum wage beyond the legally stipulated amount. While the committee on minimum wage had not been formed, labor called for immediate action to improve the situation.

Osifo emphasized that labor aimed to push the government for more substantial efforts in addressing these challenges, beyond the baseline proposed by the President.

In light of these discussions, the stance of organized labor remains firm, and the planned protest is set to proceed as scheduled.

Protest ‘ll hold, NLC insists

Regarding the continuity of the proposed protest, Titus Amba, the Deputy President of NLC, affirmed that the protest would indeed take place as planned. He emphasized that the NLC and the TUC were aligned in their determination, as expressed by the TUC’s national president. Amba explained that discussions had taken place following their previous meeting and President’s broadcast, during which various issues were analyzed in-depth.

Amba revealed that one of the points of discussion was the President’s statement that the government had saved around N1 trillion within two months due to subsidy removal. This raised questions among the ordinary citizens about why these funds couldn’t be used to alleviate the suffering and needs of Nigerians.

Another concern raised by Amba was the inadequacy of the proposed 3,000 buses. He argued that when divided among the numerous states, this number would be ineffective in addressing the transportation challenges faced by the citizens.

Despite the government’s request to postpone the protest, Amba clarified that the decision to suspend or proceed with the protest would need to be discussed with other key bodies within the union. He emphasized that Nigerians were eagerly awaiting the outcome of these discussions, indicating the high level of anticipation and concern among the population.

Regarding the absence of the NLC President, Comrade Amba cited his unavailability due to indisposition. He expressed this information candidly, implying that the NLC President’s absence was due to genuine health reasons.

TUC mobilises affiliates, others

Mobilization efforts for the planned protest continued as various organizations and unions rallied their members to participate:

1. The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) directed its affiliates and state councils, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, to fully engage in the protest. The TUC emphasized its opposition to what it deemed as draconian policies of the Federal Government and the adverse impact of the recent removal of petrol subsidy on Nigerians. While not against the subsidy removal itself, the TUC asserted that measures should have been implemented to mitigate its effects before removal. The TUC called for the fixing of refineries, a functional transportation system, a living wage, improved medical facilities, and employment opportunities. It criticized the government’s response to the outcry, pointing out the disparity between the proposed N8,000 for poor families and the significant funds allocated to lawmakers and the judiciary. The TUC expressed concerns about the high exchange rate and the country’s dependency on oil for foreign exchange, as well as inadequate forex management. The TUC directed its affiliates and state councils to mobilize their members for the protest.

2. The Pro-labour civil society groups, Joint Action Front (JAF) and Campaign for Democratic Workers Rights (CDWR), also urged members across the country to mobilize and join the protest. These groups joined the call for action in response to the perceived hardships caused by subsidy removal and related government policies.

3. The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) instructed workers in all port formations, including jetties nationwide, to actively participate in the protest. This indicates widespread support for the planned action within the maritime sector.

Overall, the mobilization efforts indicate a coordinated response from various labor unions and civil society groups, reflecting a shared concern over the impact of recent government policies and a commitment to pressing for change through the protest.

JAF mobilizes members

The Joint Action Front (JAF) has added its voice to the call for nationwide protests and has directed all its members across Nigeria to participate. The group expressed support for the decision of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to lead workers and the poor masses in protesting against what it perceives as anti-poor policies of President Tinubu’s government, specifically highlighting the increase in the price of petrol and the devaluation of the naira.

JAF, through its spokesperson Achike Chude, urged unity between the NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) in engaging with the Federal Government and encouraged joint mobilization for the planned mass action on August 2nd. The group called on Nigerian workers, the poor masses, and youth to prepare for the protest by forming action committees in their workplaces, communities, and campuses.

The stated goals of the upcoming struggle include the reversal of the petrol price hike, addressing other policies detrimental to the people such as fee increases in public tertiary institutions, naira devaluation, and the planned electricity tariff increase. Additionally, JAF emphasized meeting the demands of various sectors, including health workers, education workers (such as ASUU), adequate funding for public education, salary and pension payments, and the signing of a new National Minimum Wage agreement.

JAF’s support and directive for its members to join the protest further signal a broad-based and unified effort to address the concerns over government policies and their impact on the citizens.

CDWR backs protest

The Campaign for Democratic Workers’ Rights (CDWR) has expressed its full support for the mass protest organized by the NLC, scheduled to begin on Wednesday. CDWR’s statement, issued by Rufus Olusesan (National Chairperson) and Chinedu Bosah (National Publicity Secretary), highlights the need for mass actions, including a general strike, in response to what they perceive as a series of attacks on the living standards of Nigerian workers and the poor masses.

CDWR criticizes the government’s removal of petrol subsidies, increase in school fees, taxation hikes, naira devaluation, and privileges for political officeholders. They argue that these policies disproportionately affect workers and the poor while benefiting the wealthy and political elite.

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The statement emphasizes that Nigeria possesses abundant human and material resources and should not have one of the highest rates of poverty. CDWR attributes this disparity to exploitation and looting by a few capitalists, often with the collaboration of international organizations like the IMF and the World Bank.

CDWR is critical of the NLC and TUC leadership for engaging in palliative discussions with the government after these policies have been implemented. They call on the NLC leadership to take the planned mass actions seriously and to escalate to a 48-hour warning general strike if the government does not reverse the anti-poor policies.

Additionally, CDWR urges labor leaders not to be swayed by court orders that hinder the people’s resistance efforts and stresses the importance of ideological struggle against capitalist policies. They advocate for presenting socialist alternatives as a way to sustain a resistance struggle and alleviate the exploitation and poverty faced by the working class and poor masses.

CDWR’s support and call for sustained resistance align with the broader sentiment expressed by various labor groups and civil society organizations against the perceived adverse impact of government policies on the well-being of the people.

Police responsible for the protection of Nigerians — NLC

In response to the Inspector General of Police’s (IGP) warning that the police would not tolerate violence during the planned nationwide protests, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) emphasized its commitment to nonviolence and urged the police to fulfill their constitutional duty of protecting citizens and their property.

A senior officer of the NLC stated that the organized labor movement is composed of law-abiding leaders who do not support or condone violence. They emphasized that it is the responsibility of the police to ensure the safety and security of all Nigerians in various settings, including places of worship, workplaces, schools, streets, homes, and other public and private locations.

The NLC advised the IGP not to allow himself to be manipulated into causing harm to innocent Nigerians who contribute to his salary and benefits, enabling him to lead a comfortable life.

This statement reflects the NLC’s position on maintaining peaceful protests and calls on law enforcement agencies to act in accordance with their mandate to ensure the safety and well-being of the public during demonstrations.


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