After suspending nationwide protest, NLC issues fresh ultimatum, demands

 On day one of its nationwide protest over the high standard of living among Nigerians, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Tuesday asked the leadership of the National Assembly to act on their letter to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to save Nigerians from further hunger.

NLC President Comrade Joe Ajaero said this while addressing protesters at the National Assembly.

…Suspends strike

The demands came as the NLC called off its protest slated for Wednesday, claiming it has achieved “overwhelming success on day one” of its protest.

But, it said “nationwide action continues tomorrow with simultaneous press conferences across all the States of the federation by the state Councils of the Congress including the National Headquarters.”

The congress said this in a joint statement Tuesday by Ajaero and its acting general secretary Ismail Bello.

The congress issued a fresh 14-day ultimatum to the federal government, which elapses March 13, for the full implementation of all the October 2, 2023 agreement and other demands presented in its letter during Tuesday’s nationwide protest.

It said: “To suspend street action for the second day of the Protest having achieved overwhelming success thus attained the key objectives of the 2-day protest on the first day.

 “However, nationwide action continues tomorrow with simultaneous Press Conferences across all the states of the federation by the state Councils of the Congress including the National Headquarters.

“To reaffirm and extend the 7-day ultimatum by another 7 days which now expires on the 13th day of March, 2024 within which the Government is expected to implement all the earlier agreement of the 2nd day of October, 2023 and other demands presented in our letter during today’s nationwide protest.

“To meet and decide on further lines of action if on the expiration of the 14 days Government refuses to comply with the demands as contained in the ultimatum.

“Once again, NEC recommits the NLC to continuing defending and promoting the interests and desires of Nigerian workers and the downtrodden masses.”

…Ajaero addresses protesters  

 But addressing the protesters Tuesday, Ajaero said Nigerian workers could no longer tolerate a situation where her demands given to the NASS leadership for onward transmission to the president were not acted upon.

He said: “We will no longer take it. You either act on our demands or we would resort to self-help.”

Ajaero urged the federal government to take drastic measures to cushion the worsening hardship and hunger in the country.

He said the level of hunger in Nigeria required urgent intervention, adding that President Tinubu must show capacity by taking immediate actions that will reverse the current hardship. 

“This is not to use theoretical or rhetoric solutions. Serious intervention actions must be taken by government immediately to save the citizens from death and the country from a civil unrest. 

 “Across Nigeria, the murmuring and dissenting voice of displeasure is growing stronger by the day, it will be unfortunate and regrettable if the government allows the voices in the shadows growing, snowball into a mob action. Our rally today is a kind of early warning to what may come if government hesitates to act now.

 “Members of the National Assembly should know that they will not be spared if things go out of hands. We are not coming here every time to register displeasure or letter for the fun of it. If you refuse to take action too, you will equally have yourselves to be blamed,” Ajaero said.

…The demands   

In the demand letter to President Tinubu through the National Assembly, the NLC asked for; “Employment generation through massive investment in agriculture and value-added manufacturing. Immediate subsidy to farmers to boost agricultural production and food security. Open all food storage silos and enforce equitable distribution across the country. 

“Immediate fixing of abandoned factories and revival of our local production and patronage of Made-in-Nigeria goods and services. Fixing of the four refineries as a matter of urgent national priority. Make electricity and water available, affordable and accessible to all citizens.

“Massive investment in road/rail infrastructure and social housing. Immediate deployment of cheap mass transportation, buses powered by CNG to ease the crisis of transportation for the poor people. Put an end to further privatisation and liberalisation of the economy and take control of the commanding heights of the economy in the line with section 16 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Go after oil subsidy cabal and other economic saboteurs instead of helpless Nigerians. 

“Put a stop to all dollarisation of the Nigerian economy. Put a stop to all wasteful spending and profligacy in government. Proper and adequate funding of education and health care at all levels. Adequate provision for social security for the aged and the vulnerable. Pay all outstanding wages and pensions at all tiers of the government. Fast-track negotiation and implementation of the new national minimum wage. Abandonment of IMF/World Bank policies as they bring extreme hardship to Nigerians as well as imperil our security and sovereignty.”

 …NASS assures

Receiving the protesting workers, Chairman Senate Committee on Labour and Productivity Diket Plang said the demands in their letter would be discussed immediately at the plenary of both the Senate and House of Representatives. He promised that Senate President Godwill Akpabio will transmit the workers’ demands to President Tinubu, and ensure urgent action is taken to end the hardship.

…Kano

 In Kano, the Kano state capital, the NLC asked the federal government to immediately stop the implementation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Western and American policies saying “the money lenders don’t design anything that favors the masses of Nigeria.”

The state chairman of the congress, Comrade Kabiru Inuwa, disclosed this while leading different labour unions in a protest against the current economic hardship.

Blueprint monitored how protesters flaunted placards with various inscriptions tagged “price of food is High, Stop inflation”, “Double Allocation to Politicians, Renewed Hunger in Nigeria”, “Save the Naira, Stop Collapse of Industries, Stop Job Losses.”

The organised labour also called for the removal of Value Added Tax (VAT) on all basic consumer items, and that the federal government should, also, as a matter of urgency, ensure proper implementation of all the agreements reached with the labour unions.

“There is intense hunger in the country due to several hardships. People are struggling to eat once or twice a day, and some are not getting any meal at all.

“People suffered due to hunger, the price of food changes on hourly rates, if you buy a commodity now, in the next one or two or three hours the price would change, which type of country are we?” Inuwa said.  

He then called on all relevant stakeholders to come to the aid of the masses in Nigeria and ensure the price of food is reduced to the level that a common man can afford it.

In a remark, Governor Abba Kabiru Yusuf welcomed the protesters to the Government House roundabout, and assured that the state government would look into all issues raised and address same to a logical conclusion.

Represented by the head of civil service, Abdullahi Musa, the governor  added that all requests and issues would be communicated to President Tinubu in due course.

…Makinde joins protest in Ibadan

Also in Ibadan, Oyo state Governor Seyi Makinde, acknowledged the pain in the land, saying   Nigerians are now in trying period. 

The governor who joined the protesters at the Total Garden area of Ibadan, called for calm, assuring this shall soon come to pass.

The governor stressed it was time for the country as a whole to come together and address the challenges and problems facing it, adding ” it is, indeed, a trying period for Nigerians.”

“My message to the protesters and people of Oyo state is to simply let them know that this is a trying period for our country. It is not the time for divisive activities. We have to pull together and confront the challenges that we are faced with,” he said.

“Usually, when you are going through a period where you are trying to reform a system, there will be challenges. We saw it in 1989 during the Structural Adjustment Programme. We had riots but, at the end of the day, we still all came together to solve our problem,” he further added.

While calling on the federal government to urgently alleviate the suffering of the people, he stressed the need for policies that promote growth and job creation.

Makinde, who stressed that the worsening economic situation was not unique to the state, frowned on the claim by the NLC national president that state governments in the country were not paying their workers.

“I told the NLC president that this is not the time for lies and propaganda. No one can say that no state is paying wage awards, as we have been paying it to our workers and pensioners since October 2023,” he said.

The governor promised to convey the grouse of the protesting workers to Abuja.

Earlier, the protesters had gathered at the NLC secretariat at Agodi area of Ibadan for the commencement of the two-day protest.

About Moses John, Abuja, Bashir Mohammed, Kano, Bayo Agboola, Ibadan and Chuks Nweze, Enugu

View all posts by Moses John, Abuja, Bashir Mohammed, Kano, Bayo Agboola, Ibadan and Chuks Nweze, Enugu →