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NLC protest rocks states

…ODSG promises continued succour for citizens

By Jubril Bada, Michael Ofulue, Osogbo,
Victor Akinkuolie, Ado-Ekiti & Adedotun Ajayi

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The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) nationwide protests rocked many states across the country on Tuesday as  workers carried out their threat of  a two-day nationwide protest over the choking  economic hardship in the country.

The peaceful protests were recorded in Lagos,Ondo, Ekiti, Osun,  Oyo, Ogun and some other states across the country.

In Akure, the Ondo State capital, the state chapter of the NLC led by the Chairman, Comrade Victor Amoko, hit the street, in a peaceful manner, to protest against high cost of living and the attendant decreased purchasing power of  workers and the citizens alike.

The demonstration went on peacefully despite the appeal by the National Leader of the Pan-Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, warning against possible chaos that the nationwide protest might cause.

The peaceful protesters carried placards with various inscriptions which expressed their grievances.

The inscriptions read, “We are saying no to hunger and poverty”; “Fix Local Refineries”;  “Tax the rich”; “Reduce food prices”; “Stop the profligacy in government and subsidize the poor”; “Reject IMF/World Bank policies”; “End subsidies for the affluent”; “Support the underprivileged”; “Create job and economic prosperity”.

Others are: “Education is our right, stop school fees increments and fund public education”;  “Remove tax on drugs because health is wealth”;  “We want free education not student loans because student loan is for few people”, among others

The workers started their peaceful demonstration from the NLC Secretariat, Alagbaka,in Akure and marched to the Governor’s Office where they were addressed by the State Governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa.

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The peaceful protest held simultaneously across the country was conducted under the close supervision of the security agents.

Presenting their grievances to  Aiyedatiwa at the front of the Governor’s Office, Comrade Amoko explained that the protest became necessary following the outcome of a meeting between the Federal Government and the national leaders of NLC which did not yield fruitful result.

He pointed out that the high cost of goods and services in the face of devalued naira posed more hardship on citizens, and appealed to the governor to deliver the demands of labour to President Bola Tinubu.

“Our protest today is not just for workers alone but the entire citizenry who have been suffering from economic hardship. If you take a look at all our demands for today, you will see that they are about the welfare of all Nigerians, not workers alone.

“If the entire citizenry had come to protest, it could be given political colouration, but that is not the case here. There is no political undertone to our protest today.

“N30,000 minimum wage is no longer feasible. It ought to be reviewed once in five years. Therefore, our agitation for a review is lawful. We could have asked for a review during COVID-19 but we knew it was not yet time then. So, we are pressing for the welfare of both the entire citizens and workers,” the NLC chairman stressed.

Addressing the labour leaders,the Governor who spoke through the Head of Service, Pastor Kayode Ogundele, particularly appreciated the workers for making their protest peaceful.

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He emphasised that the welfare and concerns of labour and workers are  paramount to the present administration, adding that the NLC and TUC are playing pivotal roles in the state’s economy.

“Ondo State has experienced a period of industrial tranquility and unity. It’s important to acknowledge the challenges posed by our economic circumstances. Governor Aiyedatiwa’s administration has proactively implemented measures to alleviate the hardships faced by workers in Ondo State, recognizing the need to mitigate their difficulties.

“The Ondo State government, led by Governor Aiyedatiwa, empathizes with the people’s concerns, and is committed to addressing their needs,” he said.

Speaking with journalists after the protest, the HoS added, “We have told the labour leaders that the welfare of workers is our priority. We have been paying the N35,000 wage award to workers. Even before then, we had been paying N10,000 to retirees. As I speak, we don’t owe any outstanding payment for workers.

“We also ensured that workers got their share of food items distributed by government. As for the issues they raised for the Federal Government to address, I have assured them that Mr Governor will use his goodwill to relay their message to Mr President as soon as possible”.

The Governor revealed that five (5) CNG buses had been procured to be added to the existing  buses earlier deployed to commute workers and students to and from work and schools.

He stressed that the government will continue to take proactive steps as the need arises to ensure that workers and the citizens of the state are well taken care of.

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He also expressed gratitude to the security agencies for maintaining order during the peaceful protest.

Our correspondent gathered that in Ekiti State, NLC members dressed in various branded clothes gathered at the popular Fajuyi Park of Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, as early as 8:am and blocked vehicular movement, the development which caused traffic jam.

The protesters were spotted holding placards with different inscriptions including, “Say no to hunger”, “Go back to #100 per litre, we are tired”, “Stop subsidising the rich, let the poor breath”, among others.

Also, in Osun State, residents of Osogbo, the state capital took to the streets to demonstrate over the bitting economic hardship and the sufferings Nigerians are going through at the moment.

Our correspondent gathered that the protesting workers were joined by  activists under the auspices of Dialogue 360, Coalition for Revolution, Joint Action Force, Osun Civil Society Coalition and Committee for Defense of Human Rights (CDHR), Federation of Informal Workers including youths in the state.

The two-day national protest is expected to end today Wednesday

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