THE stage seemed set for today’s petrol prices strike as some protesters were seen in Abuja with blankets ready to camp out.
A senators’ last-minute effort to stave off the strike failed. Labour mapped out details of its action and the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) called on lawyers to join the strike.
Besides, the House of Representatives advised the Executive to roll back the prices. But the Presidency described the resolution as inciting.
Petrol now costs between N138 and N200 per litre, up from N65 before the New Year’s Eve’s sudden withdrawal of subsidy.
Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Acting Secretary General Owei Lakemfa issued a directive on the protest in Abuja.
He said: “The NLC and TUC have directed that Abuja residents converge on Berger Roundabout daily by 8.00am from Monday January 9. Please pass on information to others by means.”
Some would-be protesters arrived at the Eagle Square yesterday, carrying mattresses, blankets and tents – ready for the action.
The Lagos State council of the congress will begin its protest from the Labour House in Tejuosho.
NLC Deputy President Promise Adewusi said he was not aware of any official invitation to a meeting with senators.
Said Adewusi: “I am not aware of any formal invitation by the National Assembly. So, I will not attend a meeting without an invitation as that will be tantamount to gate crashing. We are not likely to go for any negotiation now without PMS pump price being firstly reverted to N65 per litre as that will amount to negotiating under duress. Nigerians have been fully mobilised by hunger, poverty, anger and angst and are primed for the start of the strike tomorrow. Like our President ordered, ‘no retreat, no surrender’.
NLC and Trade Union Congress (TUC) leaders shunned the Senate’s invitation for a meeting over the planned strike.
The Senator Wilson Ake-led Senate Committee on Labour and Productivity scheduled the meeting for 3p.m. yesterday. It was not to be.
A source said: “Members of the committee were actually at the Senate, expecting the labour leaders who did not turn up. After some time, the senators went to the Labour House to meet with the leaders but they were not there. Efforts to reach them on phone did not yield positive results as the phones were switched off.”
The Nation learnt that most of the labour leaders were in Lagos to perfect plans for today’s action when members of the Senate Committee on Labour and Productivity were waiting for them in Abuja.
Labour leaders could not also be reached for comments.
Senator Ake had in a statement expressed worry over the consequences of a nationwide industrial action proposed by labour, civil society organisations and professionals against the federal government’s removal of fuel subsidy.
He called for restraint, warning that an industrial action could be catastrophic.
Ake dismissed the notion that the government was deliberately punishing Nigerians, saying all parties should cooperate in the collective interest of the nation.”
The nationwide indefinite strike begins today.
In Lagos, officials of Labour and Civil Societies Coalition (LASCO) met to put finishing touches to their plan for the strike.
NLC Deputy President, Joe Ajaero said after the meeting that nothing has happened to change Labour’s position. The strike and protests will begin today, he stressed.
His words: “Nothing has happened to change our position, not even the House of Representatives session. The President’s speech was also empty; it did not address the issue. We are not intimidated. It is a challenge to the Nigerian people, not only Labour. Therefore, the strike begins tomorrow (today) as scheduled. If Government is ready to listen to the people, the president should invite us. We will meet with him.”
LASCO Secretary Abiodun Aremu named the co-ordinating centres for the peaceful street protests to include NLC Lagos Secretariat, Yaba, TUC Secretariat, Ikorodu Road, Textile Union House, Acme Road, Lagos State University, Ojo, and Agric Union House, Alaguntan, Iyana Ipaja.NLC is the central coordinating centre.
Protesters will converge on NLC office and set out from there for the street rally at 8am.
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For readers in Nigeria, how do you plan to 'survive' during this strike? The Power Holding Company has been on life supply due to 'epilepsy' since I was brought to Nigeria in the 80s. So yo can be rest assured that you shall not be enjoying your DSTV and DVDs without blowing off steam as your diesel/petrol back up goes down. Thank God for Indomie Noodles and egg...the SUBSIDY MEAL after 'cassava-garium and peanuts'...LOL. Anyways, we journalists don't strike so I am on my way to work.