A joint statement by the Acting General Secretary of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC and General Secretary of Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, Comrade Owei Lakemfa and Chief John Kolawole categorically dissociated organised labour from any plot to change the present regime in the country through the mass action spearheaded by it and assured that whenever the government was ready and called labour for further meeting, it would attend without conditions.
The statement read in part: ”Labour’s analysis of the situation is that tension is very high in the land following the fuel price increase, the resultant strikes, rallies and street protests and the human causalties that have followed. And that a suspension of the new petrol prices will reduce tension and return the country to normalcy. We decided to make a plea to President Goodluck Jonathan in the overriding interest of the country to suspend the PMS (petrol) price increases and direct that talks between government and Labour be concluded on the petroleum industry especially at it affects fuel subsidy and pricing within a short time frame.
“We made a pledge that once the price increase suspension is announced, Labour and its allies will immediately suspend the strikes, rallies and street protests. The summary of Labour’s position at the meeting was that talks and consultations were on-going before government aborted them by announcing the 120-220 per cent increase in the price of petrol, and that it is necessary to return to the status quo in order to douse tension, return the country to normalcy and allow for a conducive atmosphere for consultations and talks. However, Government’s only offer was to reduce the new prices while declining to allow a phased price increase. We think that the government position will not return the country to normalcy. The Labour Movement pledges that whenever and wherever government invites us for talks, we shall be there without any conditionality.”
Objectives of the Strikes and Protests
Continuing, the statement said: “The Labour Movement once again reiterate that the strikes, rallies and street protests must be peaceful and that the objective is the reversal of the petrol (PMS) prices to their pre-January 1, 2012 level. We are therefore not campaigning for ‘Regime Change’. The Labour Movement is wedded to democracy, therefore, anybody or group that wants a change in the political leadership of the country at whatever level, should do so through the ballot box.
“The Labour Movement and its Civil Society allies are also saddened by the unprecedented loss of lives and injuries sustained during the indefinite strikes, rallies and street protests that commenced from Monday January 9, 2012. We reiterate that those who visit violence on protesters and their masters who gave such evil orders will individually be brought to justice.”
FG warns hoodlums to steer clear of rallies
Meanwhile, the Federal government has warned that if the organised labour continues with protests and rallies today, hoodlums must stay away from the protests or else they will be dealt with ruthlessly.
According to the Federal government, it has become imperative for it to take that decisive action of crushing the hoodlums because hijacking the strike and turning it into a riot was not the intention of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Trade Union Congress and Civil society Organisations.
Answering questions from Journalists yesterday after the laying of wreath to mark the end of 2012 Armed forces Remembrance Day, Minister of Defence, Dr. Mohammed Haliru Bello who urged Nigerians not to panic as security is assured in the country, however stressed the need for everybody to continue to live wherever he is living now as nobody has the power to ask anybody to leave.
DIG cautions policemen on use of fire arms at rallies
The Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) in charge operations, Alhaji Audu Abubakar, has urged policemen to be extra cautious on the use of firearms at public rallies.
Speaking to newsmen in Yola on yesterday, Abubakar said the role of the police was to provide security to everyone including protesters as far as those protesters were within the confines of the law.
Abubalkar, who was in Yola to assess security situation and monitor protests against the removal of fuel subsidy, said so far the protests in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe had been peaceful.
“The main reason why we are in Yola is because we want to talk to our officers and men to ensure that they exercise extreme caution in handling the situation because this is a democratic dispensation and therefore whatever we are doing particularly policing should be democratic.
“The mission of the police is to provide security to protesters and those who are not taking part in the protest.
“On no account should they use firearms against protesters or those who choose not to protest against the removal of fuel subsidy”, Abubakar warned.
The DIG said he was impressed with the performance of the police in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states and urged the public to give them more support and cooperation to do better.