February 22, 2024

Hardship: DSS, NLC in face-off over planned protest



By Soni Daniel & Victor Young

ABUJA —The Department of State Services, DSS, has asked organised labour to shelve its planned nationwide protest over high cost of living and sundry issues in the country in the interest of peace.

But the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, yesterday dared the DSS to stop the protest, advising the secret police to face its of job providing credible intelligence to government on the devastating effect of the harsh economic policies.

It will be recalled that organised labour, had served the Federal Government a notice to embark on a twoday protest between February 27 and 28 to protest the hardship which arose from fuel subsidy removal and flotation of the naira by the present administration.

But reacting to the protest notice in a statement yesterday, the DSS said while it is the right of the labour movement to embark on protest, the body should not go ahead with it so as not to further jeopardise the prevailing situation in the country.

The statement signed by the DSS Director of Public Relations and Strategic Communications, Dr. Peter Afunanya, read: “While the Service recognises such action as the legitimate right of the labour movement, it, however, urges the body to shelve the plan in the interest of peace and public order.

‘Pursue dialogue instead’

“The DSS further calls on parties to pursue dialogue and negotiation rather than engaging in conduct that could heighten tensions. ‘’This is more so that the Service is aware that some elements are planning to use the opportunity of the protest to foment crisis and by extension, widespread violence. The development, without doubt, will worsen the socio-economic situation across the country.

“It is common knowledge that all levels of government are striving to ameliorate the prevailing economic condition and as such, should be given a benefit of the doubt. “So far, appropriate authorities are working assiduously with a spectrum of stakeholders to fashion out modalities to address the current difficulties. They should, therefore, be given the chance to handle the challenges at hand. “In this vein, citizens are encouraged to recognise that what remains unsolved in peace time, would not be attained in war-time. The timeless piece of the esteemed Poet, JP Clark, ‘The Casualties’ is a resonating reminder to us on the possible dangers of escalated conflicts.

In time of trouble, everyone will be a casualty. “Also, ongoing wars in the global scene is a stark reminder of their catastrophic repercussions on the affected countries’ domestic environments, thus the critical need to protect and maintain our internal stability and unity. “Those exploiting the fault lines in the country need to have a rethink as resort to negativities will endanger our peaceful coexistence with dire consequences. “Similarly, parents and guardians are implored to exert authority in guiding their children and wards from inimical acts capable of jeopardising public safety and harmony.

“Additionally, all sectors, including political parties, opposition groups, religious and traditional institutions, civil society and non-governmental bodies are called upon to eschew violence; demonstrate leadership and statesmanship in these challenging times.

“Making political capital out of the current situation or involving in divisive utterances at a time like this, will be of no benefit to any peace-loving Nigerian. Citizens are advised to be vigilant and not allow fifth columnists and hostile forces or agents use them to destabilise the peace of the nation. “The DSS stands opposed to violence as a means of settling our present day challenges, be they economic, political or otherwise.

“Accordingly, the Service will work with sister security and law enforcement agencies to ensure that lasting peace is maintained in the country.’’ However, countering the DSS yesterday, Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, has dared it to stop the protest, arguing that workers have the right to protest the hardship they had been subjected to by government policies.

JAF takes on DSS, reaffirms support for NLC

Similarly, the Joint Action Front, JAF, the umbrella body for pro-workers civil society organizations, CSOs, also expressed angst against DSS’ opposition to non-violent civil protest, saying such statement from the agency could only have emerged from security operatives being hoodwinked and directed by a failing regime desperate to cover up its apparent mismanagement of the country’s affairs. President of NLC, Joe Ajaero, said in a telephone interview: “DSS should have warned the Federal Government not to proceed with their anti-people policies. Anyway, we don’t know their reasons for such warnings but we are not deterred by such. “DSS should rather concentrate on providing credible intelligence to government on the devastating effect of the harsh economic policies.

We believe it is the only way for the DSS to be useful to Nigeria. “It is unfortunate that we only see DSS with their warnings when the poor start crying over the beatings and whippings from government, instead of warning the government to stop flogging the poor masses.” On his part, Secretary of JAF, Abiodun Aremu, said: “JAF deplores this unwarranted and reckless statement credited to have emerged from the DSS. ‘’Such an irresponsible statement could only have emerged from the security operatives being hoodwinked and directed by a failing regime that is desperate to cover up its apparent mismanagement, clueless and apparent lack of understanding of how to govern and manage the nation’s resources.

“The DSS should be warned to desist from its destabilising plot, aimed at the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, under the pretense of non-existence security report, but one manufactured by its own operatives. “At this period, in which the country is almost grinding to a halt and the regime has run out of ideas, a responsible security agency could have authored an independent assessment of the current realities of failures of the current regime and present it as it is, rather than keep chasing deception and falsehoods. “JAF reaffirms its support to the NLC in its resolve to call out workers on February 27 and 28 to protest the economic hardship.”

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