By Caleb Ayansina
ABUJA—Mixed reactions greeted the protests and industrial action begun yesterday by Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and Trade Union Congress, TUC, which grounded business activities in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja.
Markets, government offices, banks and fuel stations were shut.
Vanguard observed that only NNPC fuel station along Olusegun Obasanjo Way, in the Central Business District, was opened for business.
Self-employed citizens have, meanwhile, called for an alternative labour action against subsidy removal, while others are indifferent about the issue.
Some citizens, who spoke with Vanguard, said although the fuel subsidy removal was ill-timed, there was no need for the strike, just as labour unions insisted that they had succeeded in telling the government that its policy on the removal of subsidy was anti-people. The unions insisted they would sustain the tempo of the industrial action if government proved adamant.
A civil servant, who preferred anonymity, said: “The fuel subsidy removal will be a welcome development on the long run. Anybody seen fighting against it has a personal reason. But I do not think the strike is helping us.
“We can give the government a chance and bear the burden for a while. If after one or two years nothing is happening, the president should resign.
“I don’t think the strike is necessary. Look at the market women who have perishable goods like tomatoes and fruits in their stores. Who will pay them if these things get spoilt? If labour wants to go on strike they should just use civil servants and the banks.”
Also, Funsho Asaju said: “I am not against subsidy removal. But the time of implementation is totally wrong. A lot of people travelled home for the Yuletide, and suddenly this.
“During the town hall meeting between the government officials and the people, government told us that they were going to remove this subsidy by April.
“All of a sudden, we just heard the announcement on January 1. Government would have exercised patience, fulfil its promises before subsidy removal.”
‘Now they ‘ll listen’
Mr. Joseph Ndirang, Agriculture Union Headquarters, Abuja, said: “The first mistake of any leader is not to listen to the yearning and aspiration of his people.
“What we have achieved today (yesterday) is that it is now clear to the government, and to Jonathan himself, that Nigerians do not welcome this policy. It is not acceptable to Nigerians, it should be reversed.
“So we decided to take off from this place (Berger Junction) and we are taking up from here tomorrow (today) and head to Eagle Square.
“Speaker of the House of Representatives and Senate President called us for a meeting. But we said we must finish with the rally today (yesterday).”
“If you want to see us, I think they will see him today or he calls on them tomorrow (today).”