Poverty, hardship trigger threats of protests nationwide!

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*FG gets 14-day strike notice from Organised Labour over increasing hardship

By Michael Oche

Amidst growing hunger and poverty across Nigeria, various interest groups and labour organizations have warned of impending protests to demand that the federal government move fast to address their demands to avert the consequences of such protest.

It would be recalled that protests over economic hardship had rocked Kano, Kogi and Niger stastes.

Yesterday, the organised labour comprising the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC has issued a 14 days strike notice to the federal government for failing to implement the 16 point agreement reached on October 2, 2023.

In a joint statement signed by NLC and TUC Presidents, Comrade Joe Ajaero and Comrade Festus Osifo, the two Labour centres said that non-implementation of the agreement by the Federal Government has deepened mass suffering of citizens.

The leadership of the NLC and TUC expressed sadness that the government appears indifferent to the widespread suffering and adversity in the nation.

“These agreements which were reached with the federal government were focused on addressing the massive suffering and the general harsh socioeconomic consequences of the ill-conceived and ill-executed IMF/World Bank induced hike in the price of PMS and the Devaluation of the Naira. These dual policies have had as we predicted dire economic consequences for the masses and workers of Nigeria”, they said.

They lamented that the widespread hunger is now ravishing millions of Nigerians, with the Workers purchasing power significantly eroded, while insecurity has assumed an increasing dimension.

“Nigerians are left wondering where their next meals will come from and what tomorrow might bring. The level of panic and anxiety amongst the populace has become nightmarish. Unfortunately, in the midst of all these, it appears our government is bereft of appropriate measures to ameliorate the huge burden it has foisted on the citizenry,” the statement noted.

The statement reads further, “We wish to state that these agreements, which encompass a wide range of issues crucial to the well-being of Nigerian masses and workers, have not been honoured as pledged by the Federal Government.”

“From Wage Awards, Palliative adjustments to improved access to public utilities; to the meddlesomeness in the internal affairs of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and the interference by the Lagos State Government in union activities, the case of illegal and unlawful proscription of Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria RTEAN. The government’s failure to uphold its end of the bargain is deeply regrettable and unacceptable to the Working people and the citizenry.

“Constrained by this development and recognizing the urgency of the situation and the imperative of ensuring the protection and defense of the rights and dignity of Nigerian workers and citizens, the NLC and TUC hereby issue a stern ultimatum to the Federal Government, to honour their part of the understanding within 14 Days from tomorrow, the 9th day of February, 2024.

“Further silence amounts to committing mass suicide and this remains the only feasible course of action left for us and Nigerians to -compel remedial action by Government.

“We are committed to this resolve towards salvaging Nigerian workers and masses from the apparent insensitivity and lethargy of those in the corridors of power who are supposed to be the bastion of public trust”, they added.

“It is regrettable that we are compelled to resort to such measures, but the persistent neglect of the welfare of citizens and Nigerian workers and the massive hardship leaves us with no choice. Therefore, everything must be done within the two weeks to avoid a situation where we may be compelled to take appropriate steps to protect Nigerian workers and masses”, it added.

In a related development, the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) has threatened to protest naked nationwide unless the government at both federal and state level reviews upward the amount paid as pension to their members.

The Union said it disagrees with excuses by State Governments that they cannot afford the implementation and payment of the previous wage and pension reviews, despite the increase in federal allocation to states by the present administration.

“It may sound incredible and absurd, but it is the naked fact that many of our members across the states of the Federation are still earning as low as N500, N1,000 as monthly pensions, particularly, in the South-East states of Nigeria,” NUP president, Comrade Godwin Abumisi, told journalists in Abuja on Thursday.

Abumisi who spoke at a press conference said that states like Borno pay their pensioners as low as N4000, while Gombe pays N8, 000; and Enugu pays an abysmal N450.

Others are “Jigawa N12,000, Katsina N7,000, Kogi N5000, Kwara N3000, Niger N4,000, Taraba N5,000, Yobe N4,500, Zamfara N3,000, Nasarawa N4,000, Osun N10,000, Ondo N3,000, Oyo N5,400, Adamawa N2000, Kano N5,000.