Tensions Rise as Nigerian Labor Defies Government Plea, Prepares for Mass Protests
Mass Protests Over Fuel Subsidy Removal to Proceed Despite Government's Plea
Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has reaffirmed its determination to hold a protest against fuel subsidy removal, as discussions with the Federal Government regarding short-term palliatives collapsed. The Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, warned against violent protests called by NLC and Trade Union Congress (TUC), emphasizing the importance of peaceful demonstrations.
During the meeting of the Presidential Steering Committee on Palliatives, the Federal Government urged labor to postpone the protest, assuring that efforts were being made to address the concerns raised. However, the organized labor maintained that the government’s proposed palliatives were insufficient to alleviate the suffering caused by the subsidy removal.
Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) directed its affiliates and state councils to actively participate in the protest. Pro-labor civil society groups, represented by the Joint Action Front (JAF) and Campaign for Democratic Workers Rights (CDWR), also urged their members nationwide to mobilize for the demonstration.
The IGP expressed concerns about past experiences with protests and urged all parties involved to engage in constructive dialogue. The Police Force emphasized its commitment to ensuring citizens’ safety during the planned protests and warned against any attempt by miscreants to exploit the situation for violence.
Despite the plea from the Federal Government and the warning from the IGP, NLC insisted that the protest would proceed as planned. They found the government’s proposed palliatives inadequate and emphasized the need for concrete actions to address the hardships faced by Nigerians.
The President of NLC, Comrade Joe Ajaero, was absent from the meeting due to indisposition, but NLC deputy president, Comrade Titus Amba, assured that the protest would still take place.
The Trade Union Congress and other civil society groups demanded more extensive measures to address the subsidy removal’s impact on Nigerians. They criticized the government for offering only a paltry sum to poor families while allocating large sums to lawmakers and the judiciary.
Meanwhile, the Police Force has been instructed to engage in discussions with NLC and TUC leadership to find common ground and prevent violence during the protests.
The planned mass protest is expected to commence on Wednesday, August 2, 2023, and NLC, TUC, and various civil society groups have urged their members to participate actively in the nationwide demonstration. The groups are calling for a reversal of the petrol price hike, among other anti-poor policies, and demanding that the government take concrete actions to alleviate the suffering of Nigerian workers and citizens.
As the protest unfolds, both the government and labor leaders will need to engage in constructive dialogue to find a resolution to the ongoing crisis and address the concerns raised by the people.