By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
Following the suspension of the proposed strike for 14 days by organised labour on Monday, over Federal Government’s electricity tariff hike and increase in the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, Civil Society Organisations Tuesday, reacted and expressed their views about the decision.
The Convener, Coalition In Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution, CDNDC, Ariyo-Dare Atoye, said, “The only advice I have for the Ayuba Wabba leadership of the NLC, the TUC, and other Labour leaders, is to resign immediately, as Nigerians and the overwhelming majority of workers have lost confidence in their leadership.
“As a matter of fact, the suspension of the planned action-strike did not come to many Nigerians as a surprise, this is because the Ayuba Wabba-led NLC and other Labour Union leaders have been long seen as untrustworthy and also as appendages of the Buhari administration.
“Even if a court of law has stopped Labour from going on strike, and the FG has also made a last-minute “indecisive offer,” did anything stop these highly insensitive Labour leaders from holding a mass protest to make a bold statement to the federal government that Nigerians are indeed suffering?
“At this point, Nigerians should take their own destiny in their hands and never ever rely on or believe in the present crops of Labour leaders who are unfit to lead and too steeped in merrymaking than Labour matters. It is just a big shame that they have repeatedly let down the people, and now, the common people have no organized Labour to fight for them.”
The Founder and President, One Love Foundation, OLF, Chief Patrick Eholor, said, “I honestly think that the suspension is not welcomed, it is not surprising to me and I believe it’s not surprising to many Nigerians, the ordinary Nigerians were ready, men and women, students and leaders then surprisingly the merchants of misery that is the NLC and TUC after trading us in again which has been their Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) there wouldn’t have been a better time to embarrass the failed leadership of this country who had entered the Guinness Book of Records as the only country in the world that celebrates failure in spite of her resources.
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“Many states are owing workers salaries they NLC and TUC haven’t come out to represent them, NLC is supposed to have an idea about workers compensation, unemployment benefits, wrongfully terminated or fired at the workplace and am sure those reading my article will smile and say he’s right.
“My advice for labor and TUC is to be disbanded they’re comrades who wear khakis in the day and wear white lace in the night. They prefer to live in mansions and see the ordinary Nigerians die of salaries of 18,000 a month, what a shame? And I say these with all honesty no apology.”
The Country Director, ActionAid Nigeria, AAN, Ene Obi, said, “Two weeks should be used for total social mobilisation of workers and all stakeholders to ensure that demands are met.
“We commend labour for staying strong to the last minute but never to ever hold negotiations at midnight on Sunday. Negotiations must end on Saturday because, people change their plans to participate and they wake up in the morning….and strike is off.
“Increasing electricity tariff and pump price increase is terrible and should be reversed. Labour should not be blinded by any palliatives, more money for workers does not change inflation. Government decisions and policies do. All refineries should be made functional to create employment and also export.
“There is a need to engage the CSOs to defend how the issues are affecting the most vulnerable people especially women and girls.
“We must focus on the fact that hunger is killing many people across Nigeria. Many Nigerians are crying.”
The Convener, Concerned Nigerians, Deji Adeyanju, said, “We are disappointed but not surprised over the suspension of strike by labour. The reason why I said we are not surprised is that this particular leadership of labour union has not been proactive in putting the government on its toes.
“In fact, see how it took them long to react for weeks and weeks when these anti-people decisions were taken they reluctantly work when they saw the outcry and condemnation of compromise by Nigerians, civil society groups and several other actors.
“We on our own have tried several times to meet with labour since the anti-people policies were made including myself, Femi Falana (SAN) with other critical actors and labour has been reluctant to even do something.
“From their body language many of us were suspicious that is why we have also fixed October 1 for our rally because the people are unhappy with the government of the day and they must register their grievance with the government and that is why we are doing an October 1 rally which is tagged ‘Not Yet Independent’ to coincide with the 60 years independence anniversary of the country because we know that he government has very elaborate plan to celebrate to claim achievements that are not existent to grandstand at Eagle Square.
“Basically, I am disappointed and I have looked at what labour signed. You can see how unfortunate to have this kind of labour leaders. This was what many of us were crying that labour should not compromise before the announcement of the planned strike and should not use his as opportunity to negotiate with government.”
The President and Founder Peoples Movement for a New Nigeria, PMNN, Yahaya Ndu, said, “But beyond this all we should ask ourselves why are strikes necessary in Nigeria.
“Why are we always having one strike or the other with all the inherent uncertainty and disruption of social life? The answer is to be found in the deformed system of governance which we are running and which we call democracy.
“Democracy is supposed to be mass participatory in essence. If we run truly mass participatory governance we would not be having strikes as everyone would be more or less directly and indirectly involved in decision making.”
The National Coordinator, Grassroots Empowerment and Justice, GEJ, Initiative, Ebriku John Friday, said, “The suspension is completely a huge betrayal to the Nigerian workers. Nigerians were actually disappointed. The Labour actually confirm to Nigerians that its current leader is the worst and not in the interest of the people. It took the wide cry of Nigerians for Labour leaders to wake up from their long slumber to call for a strike action that never happened.
“Today, Nigerians feel betrayed, feel neglected, and abandoned. Nigerians are afflicted because of a dozile labour leadership, who are rather reactive than being proactive.
“What will change within the next two weeks. What Nigerian are demanding from government is a total reversal of all forms of hike in electricity tariff and fuel pump price, cut down cost of government, block leakages what have widened under the current administration, tackle corruption, address inequality and restructure the economy.
“The government and labour leaders must not toil with the patience of Nigerians with their unholy alliance that is killing and destroying the unity of the nation as well as the survival of the people.
“This labour leadership have failed Nigerians much more the government of President Muhammadu Buhari.”
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The National Coordinator, Israel Comrade Israel, Niger Delta Youth Congress, NDYC, said, “We the Leaders and members of the Niger Delta Youth Congress absolutely condemn the action of the Nigerian Labour Congress NLC and the Trade Union Congress TUC in suspending their strike action for two weeks.
“It is obvious to Nigerians that the toothless Nigeria Labour Congress and TUC have decided to suspend the strike after striking a deceitful and insalubrious agreement with the Nigerian Government. we are against this Anti-People resolution entered into by the leadership of the NLC and TUC.
“The labour unions have betrayed the general interest of the Nigerian masses, If The leaderships of TUC and NLC were sincere in their actions, they were supposed to have sprang to action long before now and also should have briefed Nigerians on the outcome of their meetings and guesstimate the feedback from us before announcing the suspension of the strike.
“We knew something was fishing from the beginning when the Federal Government increased fuel price and electricity tariff and there was no immediate mass Action from the NLC and TUC as seen in previous administrations.
“We call on the Federal Government to be sensitive to the plight of the masses and to follow the rule of law and reverse the petroleum pump price and the electricity tariff in order to ease the sufferings of Nigerians.
“It is insensitive and a blatant disregard of the welfare of the Nigerian masses for this administration to increase fuel pump price without first fixing our existing Refineries or building more as they promised Nigerians before coming to power.
“It is not farfetched that very soon Nigerians will buy a litre of fuel for two hundred naira when the crude oil price goes up in the international market and all this administration is offering are temporary palliatives to the permanent sufferings they are continually inflicting on the masses.
“It is very unjust in the first instance for electricity tariff to differ in prices from one region to another in the country, in some states for instance, the difference is up to eighteen naira when it ought to be a uniform price all over the Nation, these are some of the challenges we expected the NLC and TUC to urge the Federal Government to look into the order than conniving with the Federal Government in increasing electricity tariffs and pump price in order to appease the IMF and World Bank for their own selfish interest in collecting “loans for looting” to the detriments of the poor masses.
“We, therefore, call on all Civil Society Organizations in Nigeria and in the diaspora to form a unified front to Advance the decisions and course of the masses and to confront the insensitive incompetent and lackadaisical actions and policies of this administration with one voice as we cannot leave our fate to the NLC and the TUC whose total membership is less than 0.5 per cent of our population and whose leadership have either been compromised or intimidated.”