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Deregulation: Organised Labour resumes protest rallies today

By Victor Ahiuma-Young
NIGERIA Labour   Congress, NLC, has announced that Labour and its civil society allies under the aegis of Labour and Civil Society Coalition, LASCO, would today, in the ancient city of Kano, Kano State, resume the national protest rallies against government planned full deregulation of the downstream sector of the petroleum sector, privatisation of public refineries among others, suspended about a month ago.

The protest rallies are also designed to force government to review the national minimum wage and full implementation of the Justice Uwais Electoral Reform Committee, ERC’s report which LASCO says reflects the wishes of the Nigerian people.

Congress advised the government not to resort to its normal negative tactics of trying to blackmail Labour, nor would it be profitable to  use the police in a negative reaction against  peaceful protests and rallies and commended  faith-based organisations, professional bodies, informal sector organisations, employers and the mass of Nigerians who had expressed overwhelming support for the rallies and protests.

NLC in a statement by its Head of Information Desk, Comrade Owei Lakemfa, noted that Tuesday’s rally in Kano which would resume at 8am from the NLC Kano State Secretariat, Katsina Road, by Bukavu Army Barracks and that the protesters would march  through Murtala Mohammed, IBB Way, Ibrahim Taiwo and State roads, will terminate at the Government House, Kano.

According to the statement: “The Labour Movement and Civil Society Organisations are resuming their nationwide mass protests and rallies in Kano on June 16, 2009.

This follows lack of seriousness and dissatisfaction with the Federal Government’s handling of the demands that led to last month’s protests and rallies. Although government has agreed to establish a Tripartite Committee to negotiate a new minimum wage, the issue of a general wage review is yet to be tackled. Also quite important is government’s reluctance to put its de-regulation of the downstream sector of the Oil industry on hold.

We are convinced that such a policy which will lead to increases in the prices of petroleum products is injurious to the people, industry and the country. Since high cost of petroleum products especially kerosene which is used primarily by the poor and middle classes, and diesel which is essential for private power generation are a consequence of government’s negative policy, we insist that steps must be taken to redress the situation.

The coalition of Labour and Civil Society also perceive insincerity in government’s handling of the Electoral Reforms.  This is evident in the type of bill it sent to the National Assembly for the registration of political parties, and the lackadaisical attitude it displayed following its rejection by the Senate.”

“To us, no serious or fundamental Electoral Reform is possible if the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) and its leadership are under the direct control of the Executive.

Also, such reforms will be meaningless if electoral redress in the Tribunals or Court of Appeal is open ended as the government insists. In putting the protests and rallies on hold, we had expected Government to take advantage of the intervening period to take the steps necessary to ensure a peaceful resolution of the demands.

The first of such protests and rallies will resume on Tuesday June 16, 2009 in Kano.  On that Tuesday June 16, 2009 from 8am a march will commence from the NLC Kano State Secretariat, Katsina Road, by Bukavu Army Barracks.  The march which will move through Murtala Mohammed, IBB Way, Ibrahim Taiwo and State roads, will terminate at the Government House, Kano. We advise the Federal Government not to resort to its normal negative tactics of trying to blackmail Labour.”

, nor would it be profitable for it to use the police into a negative reaction against these peaceful protests and rallies. We remain eternally grateful to faith based organizations, professional bodies, informal sector organizations, employers and the mass of Nigerians who have expressed overwhelming support for the rallies and protests.  We pledge that the Labour Movement and its broad allies will never back away from the struggle to ensure a better life for our people.”


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