Workers under the platform of Joint Action Front (JAF), Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and beyond (ASCAB) protested in Ibadan Monday, describing the decision of the national leadership of Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) to suspend the planned commencement of strike as betrayal of trust.
Carrying placards, the unionists who embarked on a protest rally from state Secretariat of the NLC, American Quarters, to state Secretariat, Agodi, Ibadan, decried that the decision reached in Abuja had put the labour movements in bad light.
The groups maintained that they remained opposed to increasing in fuel price and electricity tariff and called for its reversal to status quo.
In her own address, Secretary, ASCAB, Professor Adenike Ogunshe lamented that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration rather than cushion the effects of COVID-19 on Nigerians, inflicted more hardship with the increase in electricity tariff and fuel price.
She also accused Buhari of having earlier opposed fuel subsidy only to now justify its existence five years into his administration.
She charged Nigerians to revolt against the increases, noting that taking to docility will be unfortunate.
Also speaking on auspices of ASCAB, a human rights lawyer, Femi Aborishade, blasted the NLC and TUC for reaching a compromise that was not in the interest of Nigerian masses.
Pointing to Federal High Court pronouncements of 2013 and 2016 as rendering arbitrary increases of prices of petroleum products and electricity tariff as illegal, null and void, Aborishade urged the Buhari government to be a respecter of the rule of law.
“We must be governed by the rule of law. The Federal High Court had made an order as far back as 2013 that the regulation of petroleum products by which oil dealers can increase the prices of petroleum products at their whims and caprices that that policy is unconstitutional, illegal, null and void.
“In 2016, a federal high court ordered that the 45 per cent increase in electricity tariff was illegal, unconstitutional, null and void and that all DISCOs should reverse back to the old price.”
Also speaking, the Chairman, JAF, Oyo State, Professor Ademola Aremu said the federal government unleashed poverty on Nigerians under the guise of subsidy removal.
He accused Buhari of not living to his campaign promise of reducing pump price of fuel to N45, noting that what is termed subsidy is over-invoicing and massive corruption in the oil and gas sector.
“After the 2012 struggle, they promised to fix our refineries and about N148 billion has been spent and till today, we are made to believe that we are not actually producing anything. There are 445,000 barrels of crude earmarked for local consumption so what they are expected to do is to take our crude oil out, get it refined and put it back to us. We don’t know how a litre of PMS is N162.
“The effect of this is an increase in food prices. A bag of rice is now N30,000 due to an increase in the cost of transportation. What this government is doing is to unleash poverty on the people,” Aremu said.