President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Joe Ajaero, has urged workers and Nigerians to disregard the insinuation in certain quarters that Wednesday’s mass protest has been called off.
The implication is that Nigerians would be gearing for likely uncertainty that will pervade the polity and the attendant fears and heightened tension. Speaking to Vanguard on Tuesday, Ajaero said to the contrary, Nigerians have been fully mobilized to show their opposition to the hike in the pump price of petrol. “We have no reason to call off the planned protest. If we suspend or call it off, you will know. I can tell you that the mobilization is very high.”
His comment is coming after NLC held its rescheduled meeting with Steering Committee on palliatives at the presidential villa in Abuja on Tuesday (today). Some government officials are creating the impression that the protest may be called off.
On Tuesday, Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila, said the Federal Government was confident the labour unions would call off their proposed strike scheduled to begin on Wednesday. Gbajabiamila stated this while briefing reporters after a closed-door meeting with the leadership of the unions in Abuja. He said the unions had accepted the proposal for palliatives announced on Monday by Tinubu in a nationwide broadcast. ‘’We appealed to labour to call off their strike tomorrow.
And they all agreed that Mr President’s broadcast was a welcome development and they will go back home to talk to the leaders that are not here today. ‘’So, we are hopeful that they will do the needful and call off the strike tomorrow,’’ Gbajabiamila said.
But Ajaero said there was no going back on the protest. Recall that the organized labour on Monday insisted on going ahead with its planned protest over the removal of petroleum subsidy. NLC had openly expressed doubts about President Tinubu’s ability to control inflation and gasoline prices due to the unification of the exchange rate.
Speaking to correspondents, Ajaero said the plan for workers to proceed on a peaceful protest from Wednesday has not changed.
He dismissed fears that the peaceful protest could be hijacked by hoodlums, saying that such had never happened in the history of workers protest. ALSO READ:Burkina Faso, Mali Dare Tinubu’s ECOWAS To Invade Niger Over Coup D’état However, he said it is the responsibility of security agencies to provide security for the protest to protect the workers. Reacting to Tinubu’s plan to intervene on exhange rate over inflation and high cost of gasoline prices, Ajaero said, “By the time you have a single market and you are not having anything that has a comparative advantage, your energy is import driven, then how are you going to control it? “How are you going to control somebody that exchanged dollar at about 900 (naira)? Are you going to tell him to sell below the price? “How are you going to tell even NEPA today, with the cost of production not to increase tariff? Even corn in the villages that was sold at N18,000 by February, now it’s about 56,000. How are you going to control it?”