News

February 27, 2024

Protest: We need immediate end to hunger, insecurity, NLC tells Tinubu

NLC, TUC in talks over suspending strike

—As Sowore, Adeyanju join rally in Abuja

By Johnbosco Agbakwuru, ABUJA

THE Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, on Tuesday told President Bola Tinubu to find an immediate solution to the hardship and insecurity ravaging the country.

NLC also told the President to also address transportation problem occasioned by the removal of fuel subsidy and the attendant high price of petroleum products.

Speaking to journalists on the first day of the two day nationwide protest in Abuja, the NLC President said that insecurity, banditry, hunger in the land and high cost of transportation fare were among the reasons that made workers to protest in order to register their plights to the government.

According to him, “Well, part of the reason why we are protesting is because of the security situation in the country. So it’s good that you understand this. So as the security situation in the country is that bad, the level of kidnapping and abduction is high, even kidnapping for ransom.”

He said he was not afraid of being attacked by anyone in as much as the protest is peaceful.

Ajaero wondered why someone with his right senses would attack him because he complained that people are hungry and that insecurity that is ravaging the country.

“So why will even somebody that is in this country say that he will attack me in the street because I said that people are hungry? That’s not the issue, I’m not sure any Nigeria, not even those in government have said that there is no suffering.

“They have all acknowledged that there is suffering but they are saying give us patient. And we are saying if we give you all that patient, everybody may die before that time, do something now that’s the only difference.

“There is nobody that doesn’t know that indomie pack is almost N17,000 That a bag of rice is almost N70,000 they all know, but we’re now looking at the timing, we need a short term intervention before what you say you are going to do the next one year, people have to be alive before they benefit from it.”

Asked to give insight on the demands of the labour to the government in the two day protest, he said:

“End hunger in the land, end insecurity because if you end insecurity, end banditry today, people will go to the farm. When you go to the farm, there will be farm produce that we’re going to eat. Nobody dares going to the farm now to cultivate anything because of fear. And this is very important.

“So, the two work together. If you address the problem of transportation, you have a short-term intervention and you address the problem of security, people will go to farm and in the next three months or six months, corn and some other things will start to have produce but there’s no security and that is the situation.”

He said that the NLC had presented all its demands and the suffering in the country to the President, adding that the procession was symbolic.

He said that there was no ulterior motive for going on the street and making their positions known to the government, expressing optimism that President Tinubu would take immediate steps to address all the concerns with the urgency they required.

“We have made our position to be conveyed to him, there is no other aim of doing it and I believe that the President and the federal government would do something to address this issue.

“It is only when we wait for a long time that we will continue to cry out for them to do something for Nigerian worker because as at today, there is suffering in the land and it is a problem for the worker.”

Ajaero said that the situation in the country is so bad that some people can no longer afford something to eat on daily basis, stressing, “So it is our responsibility and that has been the history of the labor movement”

He explained that the late meeting the NLC had with the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Senator George Akume and some cabinet members on Monday night, was to perfect how the rally would be peaceful.

He said, “We explained that the late meeting would make the desired impact so that the government will get the message and Nigerians can breadth.”

On the insinuation that the rally will not achieve much results because the Trade Union Congress had said it was not part of the process, Ajaero said:

“I will allow you to check the result at the end of the rally today and compare it with other rallies. But NLC is NLC and even if within NLC, they have fifty something affiliates, any of them can organize rally even people who are not in NLC can organize.

“So it’s not a question of we, I will not comment about another union but NLC said that they are doing rally and we are out, I think we should restrict ourselves to the NLC really.”

Reminded that the TUC President, Comrade Festus Osofo had on Monday said that it was not the time to choke the government but to proffer solutions , the NLC President said there was no way any right thinking person would describe the noble agitation as choking.

“Is rally choking? It is an expression of the situation so that they can look at it and solve the problem, is it choking? I don’t think that’s choking and I think that that was referred to us because they were equally in the meeting, where we took this decision to continue with the rally, in their presence.

“So I don’t think that TUC has a different view on the sufferings in the country. Maybe they have another approach which they want to adopt and because of that, we can’t condemn them.”