By ANDREW OJIEZEL
It is no longer news that fuel subsidy has been removed and took both labour and all Nigerians unaware, it is also no longer news that organised labour has vowed to make the country ungovernable for President Goodluck Jonathan unless he revert to the old pump price of N65 through indefinite strike action, the news is that labour has accused Federal Government for spreading false rumours against organised labour with the intent to bring mistrust and weaken the unity among Nigerians. In that regard labour has called on Nigerians to disregard the rumours dialogue between labour and government and its officials, saying “We are only occupy on how to mobilise our people for the strike that is starting by 12 midnight on Sunday January 8, 2011. The Acting General Secretary, Comrade Owei Lakemfa stressed that the union is also aware that government was polluting minds of Nigerians through purported bribing of labour officials, which is not true, these are just some of the ways government wants to use to cause disunity among Nigerian masses.” The President General, Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Peter Esele and President, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Abdulwaheed Omar, in a joint statement again warned that unless President Goodluck Jonathan revert to the old pump price the organised labour will shake the Jonathan-led government. NLC and TUC who are not averse to subsidy removal, “all we are saying is that there must be enough refineries within the country that can refine our oil rather than depending on import-driven oil, it is wrong timed and wrong way because government has not met any of the steps before removal of subsidy. “ Labour has meanwhile accused Federal Government of planning false rumours in the media as means of weakening the hands of Nigerians against the protests, saying “Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) is not any discussion with federal government or any of its officials, the purported stories planted in some media houses by government is meant to break the unison between labour and Nigeria masses over the planned protest. “We are also aware that government has been using some media houses to spread falsehood about labour collecting money from government or beneficiaries of the subsidy, we did not collecting any kobo from government neither are we having any dialogue with government, we are busy mobilising for the protest”-Owei Lakemfa.
ASSBIFI mobilises members
As a part of its contribution, the Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions (ASSBIFI) like other affiliates of the NLC and TUC directed all its unit officers to mobilize their members in readiness for this indefinite strike action from Monday, 9th January, 2012 until further notice. The President, Comrade Sunday Olusoji Salako in a statement signed by Senior Assistant Secretary General, Comrade Friday Inegbedion warned members that during this mass action, “our banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions will not open for business and all national as well as unit leaders are advised to be in touch with the national secretariat for subsequent directives as may be necessary.”
Claim of subsidy by govt is fallacy -Aturu
Speaking with Allvoices, Barrister Bamidele Aturu, explained that the much-talked about subsidy was just a deception by the Federal Government and its agents to hold the country to ransom because since there was no subsidy, there was no nothing to remove. According to human rights activist, “there have never been anything called subsidy, it is all lie to continue by the ruling class to milk the country of the resources, fuel subsidy is a deceit; it's fraudulent.”
Use the proceeds to provide infrastructure- Chairman, Magboro Unity CDA Although most Nigerians are kicking against the removal of the subsidy, I believe that the removal is justifiable. The focus of the protest by Nigerians should not be how to bring back the subsidy but to use the protest to make government use the N1.2 trillion for drastic infrastructural development. Taiwo Alade, who is the Unity Community Development Area (CDA) chairman, noted that removal of subsidy by Lagos State from education, thereby Lagos State University students are battling on how to pay the 100 per cent increment in school fees was wrong because it is another way of re-introducing mass illiteracy in the state and Nigeria at large. So, the N1.2 trillion should be channeled to the right direction, education should be free at all levels to reduce the pain of the subsidy removal. Government should remember that education has time limit and age limit, as a result, as a result, education should be prioritised. Then the savings that would come from the subsidy withdrawal should be also channeled towards provisions of infrastructures. Government should be truthful; sincere in using, or else it would be deception from government.
After subsidy removal, what next?-Fagite
In his reaction, Comrade John Fagite, the general secretary, Footwear, Leather and Rubber Products, commended President Goodluck Jonathan for boldly pulling the rug off the feet of the so-called cabals that have been holding the nation captive for years. Now that the subsidy has been removed after unsuccessful attempts by many presidents to remove it, government should embark on serious development to cushion effect. “The issue of subsidy removal started years back without any success, now that Jonathan has boldly removed, I will urge labour to embark on how best salaries of Nigerian workers be increased and infrastructural development should be priority. Any protest for reversal to old price will only be at the advantage of commercial drivers and traders who have already increased the prices of their goods and services. What we should focus now is salary increment. Although governments have not paid the N18, 000 minimum wage they should be prepared to face the challenge for new minimum wage because N18, 000 salary will not work following the subsidy removal.