Reacting to the public outcry by Nigerians over the difficult conditions they have been forced to endure as a result of the Federal Government’s insistence to carry on with the increase in electricity tariff, the lingering fuel crisis and the persistent economic hardship experienced under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) took a decision on Wednesday to go on a one-day warning nationwide strike.
In his address to mark the opening of the Central Working Committee (CWC) meeting in Abuja, the NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, bemoaned the nonchalant attitude of the government towards responding to the harsh economic situation prevalent in the country and accused the Buhari-led government of failing in several areas in its promises to the people.
On the issue of hike in electricity tariff, Wabba maintained that the increase was “illegal, unfair, unjustifiable and a further exploitation of the already exploited Nigerians”. He made it clear that the due process in the extant laws for such an increment was not adhered to in consonance with Section 76 of the Power Sector Reform Act, 2005.
Mr. Wabba went on to lament the fact that there has not been any notable improvement in service delivery, adding that most power consumers do not have a metere as is stipulated in the signed Privatisation Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) of November 21, 2013 which states that within 18 months gestation period, all consumers are to be metered.
According to him, “the privatisation of the power sector was done in bad faith and it has become obvious that the investors do not have the capacity to improve power generation and supply in the country.”
Consequently, the CWC will agree on a day to embark on the nationwide strike, because several actions promised by the Federal Government to checkmate the tariff increment have not been implemented.
Speaking on the obviously offensive act of disobedience exhibited by the government for failure to revert to old electricity tariff as ordered by the court, Wabba made it clear that government cannot randomly choose to flout orders of such nature without being resisted by Labour. He said:
“The point must be made that obedience to the rule of law by all citizens but more particularly those who publicly take the oath of office to protect and preserve the Constitution is desideratum to good governance and respect for the rule of law. In a constitutional democratic society like ours, this is meant to be a norm.”
Addressing the problem of fuel scarcity in the country, the NLC president admitted the existence of untold difficulty it has brought on workers and Nigerians generally. According to him, when the nation experienced the first sting of fuel crisis under the present government, “we put it to sabotage and urged the government to deal decisively with the saboteurs but with an eye to enhanced local production as an enduring solution. When the second incident happened, we similarly reasoned the same way.”
He then emphasised:
“However, with the latest incident of prolonged scarcity and confession by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources that scarcity will persist till May as he is not a magician, regular scarcity might as well be a familiar feature, and we would do well to brace ourselves for long spells, except government does the needful.
“We must, however, make the point that spells of scarcity will not be acceptable to Labour and other Nigerians because the human and economic costs are unimaginable.
“We have been patient with this government but this persistent scarcity and suffering of our people will no longer be tolerated.’’
Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN, who also spoke at the event stated firmly that the entire population of Nigerians “didn’t vote change for suffering. We didn’t vote change for agony, we didn’t vote change for tyranny. We fully endorse NLC resolutions for a nationwide strike.”
He attacked the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, for his inconsistency with words saying that, “today he says fuel scarcity will end in May, tomorrow, he says he’s not a magician. Somebody is supervising himself because there’s no NNPC board.”