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NLC gives 17-point demand to Tinubu, suspends protest

NATION — The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, yesterday made a 17-point demand to President Bola Tinubu to assuage the poverty, hunger and mass suffering inflicted on the citizens by the policies of the federal government.

This is even as Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State participated in the protest in Ibadan, the state capital, saying there are hunger and anger in the land.

Suspends protest

However, leaders of NLC, yesterday suspended the two-day nationwide protest after the first day, saying its suspension was based on the fact that the street action achieved overwhelming success. In a communiqué at the end of its National Executive Council, NEC, meeting yesterday in Abuja, President of NLC and Acting General Secretary, Joe Ajaero and Ismail Bello, said: “The NEC-in-session, therefore, reviewed the execution of the first day of the nationwide protest to assess its effectiveness and take decision on further necessary action to guide congress in its effort at engaging government to protect the people and Nigerian workers from the increasing scourge of hardship.”

Meanwhile, on first day of nationwide protest yesterday, NLC, in a letter to President Tinubu, titled ‘’Tackling the Crisis of Survival and Mounting Destitution in the Land – What Must be Done Now!”, signed by its President, Joe Ajaero, said: “Sequel to the recent nationwide protests called by the National Executive Council, NEC, of the NLC, it is our considered opinion that we write to you at this time of great national distress that has left a huge majority of the citizenry and workers massively impoverished and hungry.

“We believe that together, we can co-create programmes and policies that will not only help reduce suffering on the people but also create a functional path out of this morass which the crushing weight of unmitigated inflation and hardship has imposed on us.

“First, Your Excellency may recall that two policies of your government are responsible for the unprecedented economic downturn facing millions of Nigerians. The first is your inauguration declaration that ‘fuel subsidy gone’. “The impact of that policy is unbridled hike in the price of refined petroleum products, especially petrol.

The second is the foreign currency exchange rate flotation policy which translates to massive depreciation of the naira. “We understand that these policies were at the instance of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. Your Excellency may recall the principled opposition of the NLC against hike in the pump price of refined petroleum products over the years.

‘’We recall the role Your Excellency played in the early days of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to mediate in the industrial action by the NLC against increase in the price of refined petroleum products, especially PMS. ‘’We recall your promise then that the APC government would fix the ills and rot in Nigeria’s downstream petroleum sub-sector. Unfortunately, nine years after, the story has deteriorated. ‘’The major cause of dislocation in Nigeria’s downstream petroleum sub-sector is failure of the state to efficiently manage our four national oil refineries and products distribution arteries, resulting in mass importation of refined petroleum products, expensive road haulage, incessant hikes in the pump price of petrol and transfer of high energy costs onto prices of other essential goods and services.

17-point demand

“However, your Excellency, NLC believes that the following demands as proposed below, if immediately implemented will assist our nation overcome the present crisis of survival in the short-run. ‘’They are adoption of measures to mitigate the increasing hardship in the country via mechanisms that will allow for immediate food availability locally.

* We suggest a reopening of land borders to allow food, cement and other essentials to come in.

* Emergency measures to ensure food security around the country, including ensuring that farmlands are secured so that farmers can return to the land.

* We propose an immediate removal of the collection of levies, fees, dues and tolls from petty traders across the nation by local and state governments.

* Immediate implementation of the October 2, 2023, agreement reached with your government.

* An immediate purchase and deployment of CNG/ electric buses across all states of the federation to be managed by stakeholders.

* An immediate deployment of large numbers of CNG conversion kits to all states of the federation to grant the citizenry easier access to conversion of their vehicles from PMS to CNG.

* Composition of a team of relevant stakeholders to monitor and supervise all Federal Government’s intervention funds in the interest of Nigerian people. The same arrangement is advocated at all levels to ensure that government interventions reach the poor and the vulnerable.

* Reversal and suspension of further increases in school fees across the nation;

* A drastic reduction and removal of import duties paid on essential drugs and medical consumables to relieve the current hardship being witnessed by the sick.

* Direct all state governments to immediately pay all owed wages, wage awards, allowances, gratuities and pensions.

* Cash Transfers to the vulnerable with verifiable and inclusive social register to begin immediately.

* An immediate tax holiday to all workers earning from N100,000 per month and below including a reduction in PAYE for all workers earning below N500,000/Month.

* A removal of VAT on basic consumer items.

* Direct the purchase and use of Made in Nigeria goods and services to stimulate local production and save jobs.

* Immediate reduction in the cost of governance in Nigeria at all levels to reflect the nation’s tight fiscal position.

* Halt immediately the implementation of all IMF and World Bank policies in Nigeria. They have not only worked anywhere but have brought extreme hardship which imperils our nation’s security and undermines our sovereignty.

* Speedy conclusion of the National Minimum Wage negotiation, ensuring that it approximates a living wage.

“Some of the foregoing proposals and recommendations are actually part of previously agreed Collective Bargaining Agreements, CBA, between organised labour and government at various times.

“We believe that diligent implementation of these proposals, in consultation with social partners via the various processes of social dialogue will go a long way in recovering our economy from the precipice and repositioning Nigeria as a productive economy with capabilities for decent job creation, inclusive growth and the rule of law. “Mr. President, the current economic hardship facing our nation requires bold and decisive action.

As the leader of our great country, we urge you to heed the cries of the Nigerian people and take immediate steps to alleviate their suffering. “The resilience and ingenuity of our workforce are invaluable assets that, if harnessed effectively, can propel Nigeria towards a future of prosperity and progress. “While we look forward to your consideration of our proposals, please accept the renewed assurances of our highest esteem.’’

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