Wednesday, September 23, 2020

‘Nigerians can’t bear these burdens any longer’

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By Victor Ahiuma-Young & Johnbosco Agbakwuru

Trade  Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, yesterday petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari, demanding immediate reversal of the hikes in the pump price of petrol and electricity tariff in the next seven days, or face indefinite industrial action.

In a letter dated September 14, 2020, President and Secretary General of TUC, Quadri Olaleye, and Musa Lawal, respectively, insisted that Nigerians could no longer bear the burden of harsh and anti-poor polices, saying it had “observed the gradual and steady annihilation of Nigeria and Nigerians in the light of government actions for the umpteenth time.”

In the petition titled “We cannot bear the burden any longer, issuance of seven days ultimatum”, TUC also complained of non-implementation of the N30,000 new minimum wage, alleged corruption in government agencies such as the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, and  Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, loss of jobs across the industries, high cost of living, and businesses not moving in the light of the effects of COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the petition “We bring you warm greetings from the National Executive Council, NEC, of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, and write this letter to draw your Excellency’s  attention once again to earlier communication on the following salient issues. We have observed the gradual and steady annihilation of Nigeria and Nigerians in the light of government actions for the umpteenth time.

“Some of the issues that have become worrisome to the working class, their families and the masses include sudden increase in petroleum Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) Products pump price without any definitive and concrete efforts to make our refineries functional, which has a devastating multiplier effect on the working people and their families;

“Increase in Electricity Tariff without proper consultation and consideration of the effect of COVID-19 pandemic, commensurate electricity supply, non-provision of prepaid meters and other biting economic realities;

“Non-implementation of the negotiated National Minimum Wage by most of the state governments, and federal government’s inability to create and sustain salary date and calendar to ensure transparency;

“Corruption in government agencies such as the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, and the Federal Ministry of Health over failure to explain and lack of transparency on how funds received in the fight against COVID-19 was spent among others;

“Loss of jobs across the industries, high cost of living and, businesses   not moving in the light of the effects of Covid-19;

“Palliative that never got to those that needed them etc.”

The petition informed that TUC at the just concluded meeting of its organs have demanded that “government  should take immediate steps to reverse the hike in prices as it affects Electricity, Petrol and all other social services in the country to status quo ante (prior to increase) within  seven days. The government should provide adequate and quality healthcare and education for all to save the poor and the vulnerable at all levels.

“Your Excellency, we can no longer bear the burden of these avoidable problems. These demands are made in good faith, and to save the dying masses and the vulnerable in our society. In the event of not showing empathy for this class of people by adhering to above demands, we shall, together with our Civil Societies and allies ,sympathetic to the suffering masses of our people commence   an indefinite industrial action and national protest from   Wednesday 23rd   September 2020.”

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