By Victor Ahiuma-Young & James Uwem
ABUJAâ€”ACTIVITIES inÂ Abuja were today brought to a stand-still as thousands of workers and other Nigerians marched through its major streets to protest government’s planned deregulation of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry.
It was organised under the umbrella of Labour and Civil Society Coalition (LASCO), and led by officials of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) and civil society allies.
The workers, who were also demanding a review of the minimum wage and full implementation of the Justice Uwais Electoral Reform Committee report, marched to the National Assembly, where they discovered that the leadership left the complex minutes earlier.
The protest which commenced at 9 a.m. from the Berger Junction took the protesters through Herbert Macaulay Road and other major streets in Abuja, terminating at the complex.
The protest caused traffic gridlock in all the adjoining streets, while commuters trekked to their destinations.
During the march, NLC’s President, Mr. Abdulwaheed Omar; TUC’s President-General, Mr. Peter Esele; Co-Chairman, LASCO, Dr. Dipo Fashina, and President, West African Bar Association,Â Mr. Femi Falana, among others, intermittently addressed the protesters,emphasising their three major demands.
At the complex, Omar warned that Nigerian workers and masses would not support deregulation and are for the full implementation of the ERC report.
Esele asked Nigerians to resist any attempt to impose more hardship of them through deregulation, stressing that Nigerians should also fight to ensure that their votes count.
While Fashina noted that deregulation is for the poor, Falana said deregulation is not only illegal, constitutionally, but anti-people and must be resisted.
Omar later presenting a letter to the Senate Committee Chairman on Labour, Senator Wilson Ake, for President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua, through the Senate President.