BY OLA AJAYI, IBADAN
NIgeria Labour Congress (NLC) Oyo State Council has said no fewer than 1.5million Nigerians would join in the Monday rally which it refers to as mother of all rallies.
This came as pockets of protests grounded some areas in Ibadan yesterday as students of higher institutions in the state took to the streets to say no to the fuel subsidy removal.
The demostration which took place at the Iwo Road interchange in Ibadan forced many commuters trekking a long distance as commercial drivers stay away for fear of being attacked.
This led to traffic gridlock at the ever busy road that links Ibadan to Lagos. Security agents were there to ensure that hoodlums did not take over the peaceful protest. The union in conjunction with Trade Union Congress, Academic Staff Union of Universities, Voters Assembly, a pro-democracy group led by Comrade Mashood Erubami and other civil societies vowed that they would not rest until the Federal Government rescinds its decision on the controversial fuel subsidy removal and reverts to the former pump fuel price of N65.
All the leaders of the unions spit fire but agreed that the rally would be peaceful warning Governor Abiola Ajimobi to call the security agents in the state to order not to shoot or injure any of the protesters.
If anyone is mistakenly killed by security agents, they threatened that such security agents who pull the trigger would not be allowed to leave the spot alive.
Other unions that joined the union at its secretariat in Agodi Gate include the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities (SSANU), and members of National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS).
At the meeting which was attended by the state Chairman of the NLC , Comrade Bashir Olanrewaju, leader of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Bayo Ajayi, the Convener of Nigeria Voters Assembly (VOTAS), Mashood Erubami, SSANU, Comrade Jonathan Olu Omolona and other leaders of pressure groups, said they had been pushed to the wall by the anti-people policies of the government and they had nothing left than to fight.
They noted that they were not intending to take over the government but if the FG insisted on forcing the unpopular policy down the throats of masses, they would not rest until the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan is shown the way out.
Erubami used the opportunity to warn miscreants, hoodlums and political thugs not to capitalize on the rally and cause mayhem.
He said hoodlums and miscreants were not invited to the rally which he said would start as from 8am on Monday and would continue until the government listened to the voice of the people.
The NLC boss said that should security agents kill anyone, “we will sustain the struggle until the government is brought down.
We don’t want anybody to die and that is why we are saying no to hoodlums and miscreants participation in the protest which is to tell our rulers that there is no power that can suppress that of the people. We voted for them, not to suppress and oppress us and if they don’t want to know, we are ready to tell them, sadly, they have no option than to listen to us and do our bidding, we are their masters, we sent them to Abuja to serve us and it cannot be the other way round, it is not possible”.
The TUC boss in the state, Mr. Bayo Ajayi, said,”If he doesn’t feel the pinch because of free things he and his collaborators enjoy, we are now telling him that Nigerians are groaning under the heavy yoke placed on them by the removal of oil subsidy.
He has no option than to listen to the voice of reason as represented by the masses of the country. We will remain on streets until the government reverses the obnoxious and killing policy.
“As noted by my colleague, this is not a fight against governor Ajimobi and he should not be seen to do anything either directly or indirectly to thwart the resolve of the people to say no oppressive rule, Infact, we are sending him to Jonathan to tell him that we the people of Oyo State reject the killing policy” he said.
The unions hinted that they would close down any filling station, banks or inducstries found to be operating during the process adding that all of them should join in the struggle to liberate the masses of the nation.
In similar development, the pan-social group, Yoruba Council of Elders, YCE described the astronomical increase in fuel price as a threat to the nation’s security and cohesion.
This was contained in a communique issued at the end of the emergency meeting of the Executive Council of Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE) yesterday where President Goodluck Jonathan was advised to heed the popular demand for the reversion to the fuel price of N65.
In the six-point communique signed by Major-General Adeyinka Adebayo (rtd) and Chief Idowu Sofola, President and Secretary-General respectively, the elders said they were surprised at the subsidy removal like majority of other Nigerians.
They described the decision as unilateral and untimely and an apparent design to throw the country into an ungovernable chaos.
As a way out of the logjam, the Yoruba council called on the Federal Government to invite Labour Unions and other interest groups to talk it over.
The elders also pleaded with labour Unions to make themselves available as patriots and in the public interest for the negotiation.