By Bimbola Oyesola
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) said it has commenced mobilisation for a mega nationwide protest against the current fuel crisis, electricity hike tariff and others social crises Nigerians are daily forced to contend with by the government
President of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba, said this was the decision of the leadership of the Congress that had resolved it would no longer fold its hands watching Nigerians being taken advantage of in any manner.
“We call on those whose work it is to provide Nigerians access to affordable public services, amenities and utilities to undertake their responsibilities with utmost diligence and patriotism,” he said.
He noted that the leadership of the Congress was much concerned about the increasing incidences of citizens difficulties and in explicable stress in accessing basic services and utilities.
Wabba stated that, “from long petrol queues, to clandestine increases in the pump price of the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) also commonly known as petrol, to an illegal hike in electricity tariff, a debilitating inability to access the newly re-designed local currency, and the deliberate roadblocks mounted against citizens who desire to collect their Permanent Voters Card (PVC). These are all signs of a nation in dire straits”.
He said that as a pan Nigerian, progressive, pro-masses, and pro-poor organisation, the NLC would want the statement to be “a message to all those involved in these mischiefs and evil that we are mobilising our members across the country for a major protest.”
According to him, Nigerian workers and citizens are not slaves, they deserve tolerable and indeed decent living conditions in order for them to continue to make contributions to the arduous task of nation building.
Wabba expressed that it was sad, unfortunate and totally unacceptable that the current episode of the scarcity of refined petroleum products particularly petrol which started more than a year ago has continued to linger. He said, “The resurgence of fuel scarcity across the country leading to price hikes ranging from N200 to N450 per litre is of significant concern to us and ordinary Nigerians.
“It is appalling and shameful. Businesses are suffering and only few privileged Nigerians can afford this outrageous price hike which government keeps denying.”
The outgoing NLC boss opined that workers have been the worst hit as the unacceptable price hike is the latest assault on their static wages, from inflation spiral at over 17 per cent (NBS), exchange rate of N800 to the USD, hikes in utility charges, transportation, rents, health, school fees and sundry issues. He said marketers in collusion with the powers that be fix prices of products at will with little or no regard for consumers or collateral damage to the nation.
This he added was in spite of the Committee set up by government to clear the mess, “nobody appears to be in charge”.
He also pointed out the clandestine hike in electricity tariff in December 2022 regardless of the fact that public electricity supply has been most erratic for the past one year, in addition to the persisting scourge of estimated billings borne largely by workers and the ordinary citizens of the country.
The NLC boss added, “As if the multiple crises we face is not deep enough, there are widespread reports that registered voters are unable to access and collect their Permanent Voters Card (PVC) from the different designated locations earmarked by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
“Already, some Nigerians believe they are being disenfranchised by the bedlam that trailed the last few days of the recent voter registration exercise.”
The NLC President however charged INEC to rise up to the challenge and ensure that no Nigerian is obstructed or frustrated from collecting their PVCs and voting on Election Day.