Connect with us

Featured

Economic Hardship: Protests Rock S’West, Rivers, Bayelsa, Anambra, Kaduna, Others …NLC Presents Demands To N’Assembly

Published

on

Nigerian workers across the country under the aegis of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday defied the Federal Government’s threat not to embark on nationwide protest.
NLC had issued a 14-day ultimatum to the Federal Government to meet its demands or face a two-day protest which began yesterday.
In response, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Lateef Fagbemi, had warned the organised labour that going on protest would amount to a contempt of court in view of a previous court order.
But the NLC was adamant, insisting on the protest after its meeting with the Federal Government ended in a deadlock on Monday.
There have been a series of protests across the country over the cost of living, inflation, insecurity and hardship among Nigerians.
The NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) had on February 8 issued a 14-day nationwide strike notice to the Federal Government over the failure to implement the agreements reached on October 2, 2023 following the removal of the fuel subsidy.
The organised labour threatened that the Federal Government’s failure to fulfil its promises after the 14-day ultimatum would be met with a two-day nationwide protest.
The NLC had last week Monday begun mobilising its members for a nationwide protest slated for February 27 and 28 over the high cost of living crisis in the country.
However, barely 24 hours after the planned protest, the TUC pulled out of the arrangement, saying it was not part of the planned protests declared by the NLC.
TUC said that the decision to protest on February 27 and 28 as announced by the NLC was not taken collectively by both unions.
A last-minute meeting called by the Federal Government on Monday night to avert the proposed nationwide protest ended in a deadlock, as the union vowed to kick off the protest.
As planned, NLC, yesterday, mobilised its members across the country for the protest.
In the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, the protest started from the Labour House Headquarters, Abuja at exactly 9:36 am and moved to the National Assembly where the NLC President, Joe Ajaero, handed over the Labour’s letter of demands to the National Assembly.
The demands included full implementation of the welfare provisions, employment generation, immediate subsidy to farmers to boost agricultural production, and fixing the four refineries among others.
Ajaero handed over the letter to the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Labour, Employment, and Productivity, Senator Diket Plang, yesterday.
Ajaero in his remarks at the National Assembly, said Nigerians embarked on the peaceful protests because there was hunger in the land, adding that “Nigeria is becoming like Zimbabwe.”
Ajaero noted that the minimum wage negotiation has started but the amount was yet to be decided.
He said that the protest would serve as a signal to the Federal Government to immediately tackle the challenges bedeviling the country.
Plang, after receiving the letter, assured the protesters that the demands of the NLC would be looked at and discussed immediately.
The protesters were seen wielding placards with inscriptions such as “#End Poverty and Hunger. Support Local Industries#,” “Fix Local Refineries End Subsidy#;” “#End Naira Devaluation; Tax the Rich, Subsidise the Poor#”, among other inscriptions to make their grievances known on the current economic hardship across the country.
Addressing journalists before the protest started, the NLC President, Joe Ajaero said, “The government said we should not do rally. They used peaceful means and threats but we are in God’s hands.
“We are here for a rally so that Mr President will know how Nigerians feel and know where it is pinching us.”
Unions taking part in the protest include the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria, the FCT Council, the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives, and the Nigeria Union of Teachers and Construction Workers’ Union, among others.
Also present at the national protest is a former Nigeria Country Director, ActionAid, Ene Obi; presidential candidate of the African Action Congress, Omoyele Sowore, among others.
In Lagos, the home state of President Bola Tinubu, members of the NLC stormed the streets to express their grievances over the current economic hardship.
The NLC members in their numbers stormed the Ikeja underbridge and were seen singing and dancing while calling on the government to give listening ears to their demands.
Meanwhile, there was a hilarious twist to yesterday’s protest as policemen were seen in a moving vehicle sharing biscuits and water to protesters who in turn chanted “Up Nigeria Police” in Alausa, Lagos.
In Rivers State, the NLC members led by its State chairman, Alex Agwanwor, began the protest at the Labour House, D-Line, Port Harcourt and moved to the Government House gate to present a letter of demands to the State governor, Sir Siminialayi Fubara.
The Head of the Rivers State Civil Service, Dr. George Nwaeke, who received the protesters on behalf of the governor, noted that the grievances outlined by the protesters primarily fell within the purview of the Federal Government.
He stated, “To all who listened to every presentation of the labour leader as it is being read out, we can find out none is local, not originating from local source here. They are all national issues and we have hope in the Renewed Hope Agenda of the Federal Government. We have hope. And I know Governor Fubara will also deliver this message as presented by you to the President.”
Fubara further assured the protesters that his administration remained committed to alleviating the economic hardships faced by the people of Rivers State.
In Ibadan, Oyo State capital, Governor Seyi Makinde joined the state chapter of the NLC in its peaceful protest.
During the protest, Makinde assured the protesters that the current hardship would soon be over.
The workers began their protest from the NLC state secretariat, Agodi in Ibadan, and moved down to Gate-NTA-Yemetu roundabout where Makinde joined the protesting workers.
The governor said, “I am aware of the hardship in town and the difficulty the people are going through but I will be part of the generation that will fix the country.”
He also assured the workers that their letters of protest and complaints would be delivered to President Bola Tinubu.
Earlier, the state NLC Chairman, Kayode Martins, had said the cost of living was no longer bearable, especially for the common man.
He said, “The cost of living in Nigeria today is nothing to write home and the people are fed up, so that’s why we are on the street now.”
In Osogbo, Osun State capital, business activities were paralysed for some hours as the NLC and its affiliates in the State staged a peaceful protest against the current economic hardship ravaging the country.
The protesters led by the Osun NLC chairman, Christopher Arapasopo, began their march from Freedom Park, Osogbo, and moved through MDS road chanting anti-President Bola Tinubu songs.
Some of the affiliates of NLC that participated in the protest include; the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Radio, Television, Theatre and Arts Workers Union of Nigeria (RATTAWU), and Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), among others.
As the protesters moved towards Olaiya Junction where they eventually converged, vehicular movement was grounded along Osogbo/Gbongan road.
Also, for more than two hours that the protesters converged under Olaiya Bridge, business activities around the area were paralysed.
Police operatives, men of the Department of State Security and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, were also present at the scene of the protest in large numbers while it lasted.
But in other parts of the state capital, business activities went unhindered before and during the protest.
Addressing the protesters, ASUU Coordinator for Akure Zone, Dr. Adeola Egbedokun, lamented the hardship that Nigerians were going through and called on the Federal Government to reverse its policies that have impacted negatively on the people.
Egbedokun said many people felt unconcerned and refused to join the protest because they did not have a deep understanding of the negative effects of the Federal Government’s policies on them.
He called on the workers to sensitise other members of the public on the need for them to join the protests.
In his remarks, Osun NLC chairman, Arapasopo, called on the Federal Government to immediately find solutions to the economic hardship facing Nigerians.
He said, “What Tinubu promised during his electioneering campaign was a reprieve for Nigerians but what we are seeing now is the opposite of that.
“He must immediately come up with solutions. People are hungry and they are angry. We don’t want the situation to go out of hand. There is a need for measures that will immediately address the situation.”
NLC protest also held in Bayelsa State yesterday as NLC members hit the streets of Yenagoa, the State capital, to protest against the high cost of living in the country.
The protesters matched towards the Government House gate in the state capital while policemen provided protection for them to prevent hoodlums from hijacking the rally.
In Anambra State, the protest was led by its chairman, Humphrey Nwafor.
The protesters gathered at the Aroma Roundabout in Awka, the State capital, and marched towards the Government House gate.
Also joining the protest were members of ASUU led by its chairman, Prof. Kingsley Ubaoji.
The state NLC chairman, Nwafor, in a short address, said the economic hardship in the country has become unbearable for workers and other citizens.
He called on the Federal Government to review workers’ salaries to a minimum of N1.2 million, insisting that is one of the solutions that can save workers out of the current situation in the country.
He also urged the state governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, to resume the payment of the N12,000 wage award which the state has stopped paying for some months now.
The ASUU chairman, Ubaoji, on his part, urged Soludo to look into the poor condition of the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, adding that, “At the moment, nothing is happening at the COOU, infrastructure is decrepit, the governor should look into this.”
Security operatives, such as the police personnel, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps and other critical agencies were on the ground offering protection for the protesters to prevent hoodlums from hijacking the rally.
Similar scenario played out in Kwarra Kaduna and Zamfara States where civil servants trooped out in their number in Ilorin and along Independent Way in Kaduna respectively to voice their concerns about the prevailing economic challenges in the country.
The workers were seen carrying placards and banners with different inscriptions while chanting protest songs.
The protesters said threats by the government cannot deter them from registering their displeasure over the poor economic situation in the country.
In Zamfara State, protesters stormed the streets and marched to the office of the State’s Head of Service, Barrister Ahmed Liman.
Addressing the protesters at Liman’s office, the chairman of the state chapter of the NLC, Sani Haliru, said the protest was not only for the workers but for the entire people of the country.
“The alarming rate of hunger and starvation, suffering has become so worrisome and unbearable that the labour forces have no option than to go on protest,” Haliru said.
He stated that a series of meetings have been held between the Labour and the federal government but the meetings could not produce any beneficial result.
He, however, commended the state government for clearing the backlog of three months’ salaries of workers and pensioners even though the governor inherited such liabilities from the past administration in the State.
Meanwhile, Liman lauded the labour for protesting peacefully across the state while assuring them that he would convey their message to the state governor, Dauda Lawal, for appropriate action.
Borno, the home State of the Vice President, Kashim Shettima, was not left out as protesters were seen walking just a few meters outside the gate of the NLC secretariat to the junction of the road leading to the Vice President’s residence.
They were, however, halted by a barricade erected by police operatives at the junction.
The State NLC chairman, Yusuf Inuwa, had earlier explained to the workers who had thronged the secretariat preparatory to the rally that they were restricted by the Police AIG Zone 15, Abdu Umar, and the Borno CP, Mohammed Yusufu, on the grounds of the peculiar security of the state.
“At our meeting with the police at the State Police Command, which lasted up to about 3:30 am, the police said that there were intelligence reports that some miscreants were planning to sneak in and hijack the protest,” he said.
“Two to three days ago there were intelligence reports that some of the surrendered Boko Haram insurgents, who have been complaining of hunger and threatening to go back to the bush, were planning to sneak in and hijack the protest, which could have resulted in a development more dangerous than we can imagine,” Inuwa stated.
Police operatives, led by Yusufu, had earlier barred the workers from stepping out of the NLC secretariat gate, warning that if the workers insisted, they had the mandate to seal the secretariat.
The workers were, however, afterward allowed to stage the rally at the gate of the secretariat, which extended a few meters to the junction of the road leading to the house of the Vice President.
In Jos, Plateau State capital, hundreds of protesters stormed the streets chatting anti-government songs.
The protesters who gathered at the Secretariat Flyover bridge lamented the economic hardship and insecurity being faced by Nigerians in the state and other parts of the country.
Describing the situation as unbearable, the protesters called on the Federal Government to act quickly and save Nigerians from further suffering.
They also demanded an end to the security challenge in the country.
The state Chairman of the NLC, Eugene Mangji, who led the protests said, “We are not happy, Nigerians are not happy over the situation in the country that has brought untold hardship and suffering of the citizens which started immediately after the removal of the oil subsidy.
“It started as a joke and suddenly, the price of petrol which was initially sold at N197 jumped to N530 and then to N670. Today, petrol is sold at more than N700.
“Imagine that we are not up to one year in the life of this present administration and Nigerians are experiencing this kind of thing. The exchange rate has also gone to almost N2,000 per dollar and since everything is dependent on the exchange rate, prices of goods and services have also gone up beyond the reach of ordinary Nigerians. Even the students in higher institutions are not finding it easy at all.
“Nigerians are crying over the situation and we are not left out as Labour and we are calling on the Federal Government to arrest the ugly situation quickly, including the security challenge before they get out of control.
Workers in Akwa Ibom State also joined their counterparts in other states of the federation to protest the economic hardship currently facing the country.
The NLC Chairman in the state, Sunny James, who led the protest, yesterday, lamented that people had been stretched to their limit due to excessive hunger and hardship.
Addressing the Speaker of the House, Mr Udeme Otong, James urged him to encourage his members to make laws that would address the problems of the people and enable them to eat on a daily basis.
He that the situation of the country does not need laws that do not have meaning and positive impact.
He said that Nigerians are suffering due to unfavorable policies of the present Federal Government.
“We are here to present our position to members of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly that they need to make laws in the direction of our problem, laws that will be beneficial to us. We don’t need laws that don’t make meaning to us.
“If the leaders are not willing to change the situation, we will force them to change the situation, how can we be buying a bag of rice at N95,000 and a cup of garri N500?
“In Akwa Ibom State, this protest has to be domesticated, we need our gratuity, we need our promotion arrears, we need our 2023 promotion to be released immediately, we need the CNG busses to work, we need our refineries to work, we need increase in our wages, we need the prices of our staple food to come down, we need to see rice from Ini, we need to see garri and tomatoes been sold at our secretariat here.
“We are presenting these proposals to the governor and we give him a timeline, if he does not listen to us, we shall gather again for a protest.”
The NLC also commended the commissioner of Police and the leader of DSS in the State for their solidarity and support especially giving the protesters premium security and ensuring that everything went successfully.
Responding, the Speaker, Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Udeme Otong described the protest as orderly and peaceful, and promised to look into the prayers of the NLC as contained in their letter.
He assured the protesters of the governor’s readiness to put up all measures to assuage their suffering noting that the three laws that would be passed today (Tuesday) are geared towards bringing down the cost of living vis a vis the prices of commodities.
He added, “Be assured that no matter what happens you have somebody like me who is once a comrade you can rely on. I’ll ensure that all your demands as contained in this letter receive legislative action.
“Thank God we have a proactive governor who is on top of the situation. The three laws we are going to pass today will bring down the cost of living. The governor has assured me that he will meet with the leadership of NLC and TUC to address some of these issues.”
The nationwide protest is expected to continue today (Wednesday).

Boye Salau

Featured

Rivers’ll Be Known For Peace, Not Crisis -Fubara

Published

on

Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has said that peace has prevailed because he draws strength from God to resist insults and tantrums thrown at him while frustrating attempts by some disgruntled persons who wanted to plunge the State into unending crisis.
The Governor also said that because he has anchored his Government on promoting peace, the enabling atmosphere has been provided for investments and sustainable development to flourish.
Governor Fubara made the assertion when he received a delegation of members of the Bishops and Gospel Ministers’ Association International Incorporated, Rivers State Chapter, at Government House in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Represented by the Head of Rivers State Civil Service, Dr George Nwaeke, Governor Fubara said while most people took his meekness for weakness, his stance on peace has unarguably enhanced harmonious atmosphere of concord as residents sleep with their two eyes closed, and investors and shareholders are happy with the returns on investment.
He said, “Before, what they hear of Rivers State is that they are fighting, and some genuine investors will not come. Some people even ask you: How are you coping in Rivers State?
“But now”, he asserted: “The Governor has brought about a lot of changes in the State. One of the most important things is that he has changed the negative narrative. It is no longer Rivers of blood. It is now Rivers of peace.
“We are enjoying our lives here. Why? Because there is a change in the narrative. We have peace. The Governor is, as much as possible, absorbing any level of insult at him only for one purpose: that Rivers State may have peace; that we may grow; that this state will experience genuine development.”
Governor Fubara urged them, as members of the Christian family in the State, to continue to pray for the State and the Government so that the enemies of the State will be put to greater shame.
“This peace is what I want you to embrace. Go and continue to pray, because when the sower of the seed went and sowed, the enemy went in the night and sowed tares inside there. But the Governor is sowing peace.
“When I listened to the leader of the team, His Grace Eddy Ogbonda, he said you came all the way from Eleme Junction, and stopped at major junctions, and you uttered prayers for the peace of Rivers State.”
He also said: “I, hereby want to thank you for identifying with the Governor at a time like this. At a time when it looks as if someone wants the Governor’s peace posture misunderstood as weakness.
“When someone has the strength to fight back, but refuses to fight back. That is a bigger strength; that power of restrain does not just come, it can only come from God.
“You cannot give peace, if you do not have peace within you. The Governor is not interested in any form of trouble or violence. What he is interested in is known, and it is: let there be peace in Rivers State,” he said.
In his address, leader of the group, Archbishop Eddy Ogbonda, said they had observed a week-long intensive prayers that culminated into a peace rally, which brought them to Government House, and assured the Governor that God will continue to give him victory over his adversaries while preserving Rivers State.
“It is Rivers State Prophetic Prayer Convocation and Rally 2024 with the theme: ‘Peace be still’. Of a truth, everyone of us understands that we live in a time when we need peace much more than any other thing.
“Rivers State needs peace. Everyone as individuals need peace. The country needs peace, and the world at large needs peace. So, we are here to do a peace march. We pray that God will command His peace to reign in Rivers State,” he said.

Continue Reading

Featured

Hoteliers, School Owners Charging In Dollars Risk Arrest -EFCC

Published

on

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has stated that hotels, schools, and other establishments that accept payments in dollars from their customers are at risk of facing arrest.
The Chairman of EFCC, Ola Olukoyede, said this in the agency’s publication called EFCC Alert on Monday, adding that action would be taken against individuals involved in the dollarisation of the economy.
According to him, the exception is if foreigners come in to transact business and the only means of transacting is their credit card and dollar but to charge local customers in dollars or other foreign currencies would no longer be allowed.
He said charging local activities and customers in dollars is against Nigeria’s constitution.
The EFCC chairman said, “Schools that charge Nigerians in dollar, supermarkets that trade in dollar, estate developers that sell their property in dollar, hotels that are invoicing in dollar, we are coming after you and we have made arrests in that area.
“Yes, if foreigners are coming in and the only means of transacting is their credit card, and dollar, why not? You will get that.
“But document it properly as against selling things within the system, local economy and you will be using dollar as the medium of exchange, it is illegal.
“Our law does not allow for that. And we have also affected some arrests.”

Continue Reading

Featured

Eid-El-Fitr: Fubara Felicitates Muslims, Calls For Unity, Tolerance

Published

on

Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has enjoined Muslim faithful to remain steadfast to the lessons learnt during the holy month of Ramadan.
Governor Fubara stated this in his message of felicitations to Muslims as they celebrate the 2024 Eid-el-Fitr Sallah, which marks the end of the one-month Ramadan fasting.
The Governor emphasised the importance for Muslims to also uphold the tenets of Islam by exhibiting the fear of God and showing piety in their daily work.
Governor Fubara said, “We must all continue in the good attributes imbibed during the holy month of Ramadan as directed by God through His Prophet, so as to ensure peace, unity and harmony in the society for a better future.”
While praying that the essence of the festival offers them happiness, peace and prosperity in all aspects of life, Governor Fubara said he recognises and appreciates the critical role that the Muslim community continues to play in the development of Rivers State, and indeed, Nigeria at large.
Governor Fubara charged them to remain unwavering and steadfast in their commitment and positive contributions to advance the development of the State and the country.
“I enjoin you all in the State to remain calm, be patient and continue to do what is right,” the Governor added.
He wished the Muslim faithful in the State and across the country a happy Eid-el-Fitr celebration.

Continue Reading

Trending