HOW LABOUR PROTEST MARCH TURNED INTO SOLIDARITY VISIT TO OSINBAJO

The leaders of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and their Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, counterparts,  became happy on meeting with the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo. turned a protest march against perceived bad governance, and worsening hardship, into a solidarity visit at the Presidential Villa on February 9.

Aggrieved workers and their society allies, in Lagos and Abuja, displayed several placards with inscriptions such as “President Buhari let there be light”, “End jumbo salary for all political office holders”, “prosecute all indicted persons”. “Jail all looters” and so on,

Leading the protest, leaders of NLC and TUC made it clear that Nigerians were dissatisfied with the style of governance of the present government that had made Nigerians poorer and unable to cope with the hardship. They demanded that the Federal Government should make known the identities of those that looted the nation’s treasury and asked that their hands be amputated to serve as deterrent.

The protesters insisted that the level of hardship in the country had risen to alarming levels and that workers were  the worst hit by the current recession, demanding upward review of the minimum wage.

They also threatened to drag some  state governors to the anti-graft agencies for alleged diversion of the bail-out funds recently released by the government for the payment of workers’ salaries, arrears, pensions and gratuity.

In Abuja, NLC president and its TUC counterpart, Ayuba Wabba, and Bobboi Kaigama, respectively, at the Unity Fountain,  among others,  expressed deep frustrations at the  socio-economic and political situations in the country.

On his own part, the Vice President of Industriall Global Union and General Secretary of National Union of Textiles, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria, Issa Aremu, lamented that before the increment of the pump price of petrol, labour had predicted what would be the outcome of the government policy, adding that the predictions had come to pass.

 

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From the unity fountain, the protesters moved to the National Assembly, where they demanded from the leadership of  the National Assembly, the immediate upward review of minimum wage amidst increasing cost of items in the country. They lamented that besides the issue of minimum wage, pensioners in the country were owed up to 77 months. They called on the National Assembly to liaise with other arms of government to pay them.

Responding, the Senate President Bukola Saraki, said it was time to go into action towards addressing the numerous challenges confronting Nigerians and that everybody should  sit down and work out how to make necessary adjustments. He said: “It can’t continue this way, the exchange  rate is high, cost of things in the market have gone high but only the workers’ salaries remained the same. By the next time we will meet I will tell you what the National Assembly has done to improve the living condition of Nigerians.” Leaving the Assembly complex, the protesters decided to storm the  Aso Rock Villa. But hardly had they got to the thresholds of the Presidential Villa through the Supreme Court route when they met with a horde of security agents preventing them from gaining access to the villa to deliver their protest message to  Prof.  Osinbajo.

For more than an hour, they waited in the scorching sun,  and while they were still battling with the security operatives, words reached Osinbajo on the development. The acting president gave approval for their leaders to be allowed in. The leaders met with Osinbajo in his conference room inside the presidential villa.

But while the leaders had thrown all types of darts at government at the Unity Fountain, upon meeting face-to-face with the Vice President, their attitudes changed into a chorus of strong support for the government.
Read more at: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/02/labour-protest-turns-solidarity-visit-osinbajo/

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