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Anti-deregulation protest holds in Abuja

By Victor Ahiuma-Young

ABUJA — LEADERS of organised labour and civil society yesterday arrived Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) for today’s anti-deregulation mass protest code-named “Mother of all protest,” even as the Senate President sent a special delegation to leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) over the protest which is expected to terminate at the National Assembly Complex.

Vanguard gathered that leaders of state councils of the NLC across the country, affiliates unions and associations, Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) and allies in the civil societies, among others are already in Abuja for the rally, which is expected to be a rehearsal for the long battle against deregulation.

President-General of TUC, Comrade Peter Esele flew in from Port-Harcourt yesterday to coordinate members of his affiliates.

One of the leaders of NLC, Comrade Issa Aremu who flew in from Kaduna, told Vanguard that government’s subsidy claims were dubious as most of what they pay as subsidy were completely avoidable.

Comrade Aremu who is also a vice president of the NLC, warned that any further increase in the prices of petroleum products in the name of deregulation would destroy the remaining existing industries.

General Secretary of NLC, Comrade John Odah, said the opposition against government planned deregulation of the downstream sector of the oil industry was hinged on the fact that the policy is exploitative and would not only worsen the poverty in the country, but also lead to more factory closures.

According to him, the alternative to deregulation can be seen in the  cancellation of demurrage on petroleum products in transit, dredging of the ports, rehabilitation and expansion refining capacity in Nigeria and the fighting of the corruption associated with the fuel import and distribution in the country.

Meanwhile, a delegation of Senate President yesterday visited the leadership of NLC to confer with organised labour on today’s protest.

According to Vanguard sources, the Senate delegation was made up of Chairmen, Senate Committee on Petroleum (Upstream) and his House of Representatives counterpart.

Vanguard gathered that the leadership of NLC told the delegation to stand on the side of the Nigerian people and ensure that their actions do not contradict the expectation of Nigeria.

The delegation, Vanguard gathered, assured the leadership of NLC that they would always be on the side of the people of Nigeria.


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