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…. Phantom Fuel Subsidy Removal is Self Serving Policy of Economic Slavery!

The United Action Front of Civil Society, the Organised Platform of Civil Society Groups and Activists on matters of Governance and Democracy in Nigeria wishes to fully endorse the indefinite nationwide strike action jointly declared by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), which is scheduled to begin on Tuesday October 3, 2023. The indefinite strike became imperative following the 2-Day warning strike earlier embarked upon by the NLC on September 5 and 6 over the failure of the Tinubu administration to demonstrate commitment to implementing a series of agreements and pledges which the government reneged upon.

It is unfortunate that while the arbitrary fuel price hike in the name of subsidy removal on premium motor spirit (PMS) has pushed most Nigerians below poverty line, government continues to play the Ostrich in spite of the promises made to labour leaders on the need for upward review of workers wages, inclusive palliatives to citizens, among others. The leadership of the organised Civil Society therefore urges all Nigerians to rally behind NLC and TUC in protest against the insensitivity and dubious politics of the Nigerian government, which has, so far, demonstrated total lack of comprehension and sensitivity to the economic challenges facing the country. We wish to reiterate that the inhuman policy of arbitrary hike in fuel price has further impoverished and pauperised millions of households, who were hitherto merely coping with meagre wages and incomes for their livelihoods.

It is evident that the present government lacks the requisite wherewithal to fix the rots perpetrated by the immediate past government of the same party and may eventually end up worsening the situation. It is regrettable that rather than prioritise reduction in the costs of governance, the Tinubu administration is deliberately indulging in over-bloated appointments as typified by the appointment of the highest number of ministers and the largest cabinet yet in Nigeria history. It is also regrettable that the National Assembly which only recently arbitrarily allocated public funds to its members who embarked on recess has also increased the number of its standing committees, which would also translate into additional costs of governance in an economy where overwhelming majority of the masses could barely cope with the costs of living in Nigeria or afford one square meal.

The leadership of the United Action Front of the Civil Society therefore urges Nigerians across public and private sectors to rally support for the NLC and TUC in demanding living wages for the working people and improvement in the living conditions of Nigerians, while decrying the insensitivity and deceitful ploy of the Nigerian government to pauperise and enslave them and ensure the reversal of the suffocating policies of economic slavery in the name fuel subsidy removal.

Again, we wish to emphasise that the Tinubu administration cannot in good conscience insist on arbitrary fuel price hike while those who looted the national treasury in the name of subsidy are today being accorded red-carpet treatment all over the place. More disturbing is that the government appears determined to subject the citizens to more hardship with the prevailing abysmal exchange rate with consequences for higher inflation in the country. To this end, the indefinite strike action declared by the NLC and TUC is therefore inevitable to save the country from impending upheaval as the harrowing economic situation may heighten self help, insecurity and violent protests.

It is deceitful for the government to have delayed the review of minimum wage considering that the present N30,000 monthly can no longer support an average Nigerian worker who, under the prevailing economic situation, has more than 3 dependants in addition to the immediate family. We call on the NLC and the TUC to remain resolute in defending the country against all forms of anti-masses policies that have foisted unmitigated poverty on millions of Nigerians and unprecedented unemployment and hardship in both the urban and rural communities.

Finally, the leadership of the United Action Front of Civil Society wishes to enjoin all civil society Leaders, Activists, Working people in the private and public sectors as well as all well meaning Nigerians in general to team up with us in rallying support for the success of the indefinite strike action declared by Labour by making out time to be part of the Civil Society Coordinating Centre charged to enforce Citizens Sit At Home during the Nationwide Strike Action called to save Nigeria; push for living wages for the working people and better welfare conditions for Nigerians in the face of excruciating consequences of the exploitative and wrongheaded policies of government.

Olawale Okunniyi
(Veteran Che)
Head, National Coordinating Centre,
United Action Front of Civil Society
28th September, 2023

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