Protest needless, FG addressing agreements – TUC, NANS

As the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and other civil society groups insist on commencing a two-day nationwide protest following the current hardship Nigerians face, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) has said protest is not the best way out.

 Rather, the TUC issued a 15-point demand, both immediate, short term and long term to tackle the current economy challenges in the country.

President of TUC Comrade Festus Osifo said this while briefing journalists Monday in Abuja.

He said his organisation will not be joining the national protest called by the NLC because government had commenced implementation of the agreements signed on the 2nd October, 2023.

According to him, before the expiration of the two-week ultimatum jointly issued with NLC, the federal government had implemented some of the agreements reached.

 “At the expiration of the two weeks ultimatum, we reviewed the situation and came to a conclusion that protest won’t address the current hardship in the country. We also note that since the government is engaging us to resolve the dispute, having also seen that they have commenced implementation of the October 2nd 2023 Agreement, we identified 15-point areas which if addressed, the situation would be partly solved,” Osifo said.

He listed the 15-point proposal to include;  “Determination of Real Value of Naira, New Minimum Wage, Custom Exchange Rate for Goods used in Manufacturing,  Allegation that sub Nationals throw billions of dollars Monthly into the Parallel Market and Dollarieation of Political Party Primaries and Electioneering.

“Others are Clamp down on speculative trading in the foreign exchange market, Patronizing Made in Nigeria Goods, Strengthening the Economic Management Team, Time to stop following the dictate of IMF and World Bank and Effectively supervising the activities of Banks.”

Also, the Congress proposed “Curbing Crude Oil Theft and Increasing Investment in enhancing Oil and Gas, Curbing Insecurity for Farmers to Return to Farm, Temporary Importation of Food from Abroad, Task for States and Local Government and Local Refinery of Crude Oil the congress leadership visited.

 “The congress leadership strongly believes that when all the solutions proffered above are implemented, the current challenges faced by Nigerian workers and indeed the downtrodden will ease off within the shortest possible time,” he added.

…NANS backs out

 Also, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has urged the NLC to back down on its planned industrial action and embrace dialogue with the federal government.

In a statement by NANS Senate President Akinteye Afeez, they said  the impact of the strike on academic activities would be particularly devastating for the students.

The body noted that disruptions to academic calendars, examinations, and other educational activities could derail the progress of students and exacerbate the already precarious situation in the education sector.

“The Nigerian government has reportedly fulfilled approximately 60 percent of the demands presented by the NLC, indicating a commitment to addressing the concerns of workers and improving their welfare. However, the looming threat of a strike poses a significant risk of further exacerbating the economic challenges facing the nation and disrupting the lives of ordinary citizens, including students.

 “We are appealing to the NLC to shun the path of strike action and explore alternative avenues for resolving disputes with the government. We believe that dialogue and constructive engagement are essential for addressing grievances and achieving meaningful progress in improving the welfare of workers and citizens alike,” the statement said.

 …Police on red alert, warn against hijack

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) has placed armed officers on red alert to monitor the 2-day protest organised by the NLC and avoid crises.

It also affirmed the fundamental rights of all citizens to engage in peaceful protest in line with extant laws.

To this end, Inspector–General of Police (IGP) Kayode Egbetokun has briefed and instructed all Commissioners of Police and their respective supervising officers to coordinate the officers on the ground in ensuring the safety and security of all participants if the protests hold as planned.

A statement issued Monday by Force Public Relations Officer ACP Olumuyiwa Adejobi said: “The Nigeria Police Force, on the heels of the proposed nationwide protest by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), hereby affirms the fundamental right of all citizens of the country to engage in peaceful protest in line with extant laws. As such, the NPF reiterates its commitment to ensuring the rights and freedom of protesters are protected.

 “In line with its lawful duty to maintain law and order, the Nigeria Police Force has deployed personnel nationwide and placed them on red alert to monitor the planned protest.

“While recognizing the importance of peaceful protest, the Nigeria Police Force remains vigilant against any attempts to hijack such protests by individuals or groups of persons with sinister intentions. Emphatically, the force, therefore, is fully prepared to respond swiftly and decisively to any unlawful activities or acts of violence that may threaten peace, public safety, and security in the event of such.

“It is vital to state that the Police has spread its tentacles nationwide to curb any attempt by some individuals who might want to leverage on the nationwide protests, to create brouhaha, and such will be met with an approved legal and proportional force as the Police will not allow wanton break down of law and order, loss of lives and property like we had experienced, in some instances, in the past, in any part of the country.”

The IGP also urged all those participating in the planned  test to conduct themselves peacefully and responsibly and adhere to the principles of non-violence and respect for the rights of others.

Egbetokun similarly pleaded with the organisers to cooperate with the police and other relevant security agencies in ensuring  “their protests remain peaceful and orderly even as the NPF works tirelessly to ensure that protests are conducted in a safe environment, conducive to the promotion of democracy and the rule of law in Nigeria.”

About Moses John and Chizoba Ogbeche,  Abuja

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