Oil Subsidy Protest: Government, Trade Unions may reach compromise on Thursday

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It is emerging that a crucial  meeting of the Federal Government and members of the nation’s major Trade  unions  ended in deadlock and negotiation still stalemated on Wednesday evening… with the FG insisting on not reverting the oil subsidy  removal.

Labour Unions are obstinate that it is  “N65 per liter or an ensuing revolution!”

However, it has emerged that a crucial Thursday evening further negotiating meeting may provide for a resolution which may force both parties meeting at halve routes and reaching a compromise, with the government ready to make sacrifices to safe the nation from sinking further.

“Both have signaled the intention to safe the nation from further dilapidation by entering into compromises”, a source hinted.

However, as the Thursday evening meeting is being scheduled, Labour has  insisted that  the strike and  on -going mayhem across the nation should go on.

The  Wednesday negotiation meeting was convened by the House of Ad-Hoc committee, headed by representative Patric Ikharaile. Further talks has been fixed for Thursday  evening. Time has been fixed for 5:30pm.

Chairman of the Ad-hoc committee says both parties are closer to reaching an understanding.

President of the NLC, Abdulwaheed Omar said since no agreement has been reached yet,  the strike action must continue on Thursday.

However, the  mayhem continues across the nation as many hoodlums have exploited the union strike to unleash terror in many parts of the country.

Hundreds of Military personnel were dispatched to Minna, Niger State capital on Wednesday as the  state governor was only yards away from being lynched.

The governor had to be evacuated by helicopter after protesting youths there went on a deadly rampage, attacking his residence and setting an election commission office on fire.

The chaos erupted in the capital of Niger state, Minna, prompting authorities there to declare a statewide 24-hour curfew.

The general unrest had been precipitated  as government insists it would not rescind the decision to remove fuel subsidy which had made petrol very cheap for more than two decades.

Tens of thousands Trade Unions’ members  have protested across the country since a national strike started Monday, with hyped tension and  anger being demonstrated over the government’s action, which has spurred unprecedented violence.

At least 10 people have been killed, according to officials while there had been wanton destruction to public and private properties.

The government has warned that unless abated, the ongoing strike may paralyze the nation and create a state of  “anarchy”.

Senator David Mark, Nigeria’s leader of Senate has assured that all protesters found to have engaged in one destruction or the other would be brought to books.

In a statement, Attorney General Mohammed Bello Adoke described the strike by major labor unions as illegal, and warned public workers that the government would implement a “no work, no pay” policy for those who join the strike.

However, public workers sometimes go weeks without pay in Nigeria, where corruption and mismanagement has plagued government for decades.

“Continuing disregard of that order is (dangerous) to the public interest as it constitutes an open invitation to anarchy,” Adoke said in a statement issued last Tuesday

State Reports
In Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital of 15 million, several hundred protesters took over a major highway leading to the islands where the wealthy live on Wednesday. One protester carried a signed that read: “We are ready for the civil war.”

“We can sleep on the road until daybreak; we are not tired,” said Godwin Bassey, 16. “We voted for them. They need to obey our voice.”

A third day of protests and violence in some places has practically brought the nation to its knees, with neither labour nor government showing signs of shifting grounds.

Niger State
Widespread violence has resulted in the placing of a 24-hour curfew on Niger State by the state government. The curfew was declared Wednesday after rampaging youths torched cars and houses, particularly those belonging to the Peoples Democratic Party’s stalwarts in the state capital, Minna.

According to our correspondent in the state, the Independent National Electoral Commission head office was set ablaze while a police officer attached to it was killed. His death was confirmed by the state’s police public relations officer Mr Richard Oguche.

 

Violence Aborted in Kogi
A peaceful protest against the fuel subsidy removal in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital Wednesday turned into a clash between angry youths and security agents when policemen shot teargas at the youth to prevent them from blocking the high ways and preventing travellers from passing through the city.

The situation led to one of the youths and a policeman on duty sustaining injuries. A disabled old woman almost got choked by the tear gas as she was unable to run for dear life. The timely intervention of the state police commissioner, Mr Marvel Akpoyibo who was at the Freedom Square, calmed the situation, after he appealed to the youths to remain peaceful.

Government offices and businesses still remain under shut in total compliance with the industrial action, but for the youths they have vowed to continue the protest, saying nobody can stop them.

No Work in Abia
The Abia State chapters of both unions have said the order by the state government asking workers to return to work will not be obeyed.

Addressing a crowd in Umuahia, the state capital Wednesday, officials of the unions maintained that the strike will continue and asked workers not to go back to work.

Meanwhile, private schools have defied the strike order by organised labour and have resumed. The national association of proprietors of private schools in a statement signed by the national secretary of the group, Enyinnaya Harbor, stated that the body is not an affiliate of the NLC or the TUC and therefore will not continue with the action.

Ogun remains Calm
The Ogun State capital, Abeokuta, remained largely calm. However, some miscreants were seen in some streets in the state capital extorting money from residents.

Unconfirmed report states that there were clashes in the Sagamu area of the state between the Hausa and Yoruba communities, but the state police command denied any such clash or disturbance in the area.

The state Police Public Relations Officer, Mr Muyiwa Adejobi said that the alleged face-off was not true, adding that although some people wanted to take advantage of the killing by a stray bullet of a middle-aged man at Ibafo on Tuesday, the situation was immediately brought under control.

Meanwhile a mass protest organised by the state chapter of the NLC, and other civil society groups paralysed commercial activities in the Remo axis of the state, but the protest was said to be peaceful.

Jos Residents Sit at Home
The people of Jos in Plateau State appear to have obeyed the sit-at-home instruction given by the organized labour to the letter.

Our correspondent Yemi Kosoko reports that the union leaders are right now going round the plateau state capital and other parts of the state to monitor the situation, insisting that the sit-at-home order must be fully adhered to. However, individual petrol sellers, popularly called black marketers, seem to be having a field day as petrol stations are closed in parts of the state.

Meanwhile, the strike action is currently having adverse effects on passengers as some are now stranded at motor parks as no vehicles are seen leaving the city.

Also federal and state offices are still under lock and key despite the order by the federal government for workers to return to work or forfeit their salaries.

Anambra is Indifferent
The nationwide strike appears not to have been taken seriously in Anambra State as business premises, including some government offices are open for business, although with some banks remain closed.

Channels Television investigation revealed that markets were open, with traders, transporters and commercial motorcycle and tricycle operators going about their normal businesses without molestation. Some private schools students and pupils were seen in their various classrooms receiving lessons.

 

NLC-Abdulwahed-Omar... durin a protest

Protests Continue in Ibadan
The Joint Action Front or JAF is currently at the Challenge Roundabout in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, encouraging the people to keep the protest alive without destroying public property.

This follows reports of violence in some parts of the city Tuesday night but details about the cause are still hazy and the police could not confirm the incident. There also have been unconfirmed reports of attack on some law enforcement agents within the city as protests continue.

Kano Residents Hit the Streets
The ancient city of Kano remained grounded on the third day of the on-going indefinite industrial action embarked upon by the organised labour and civil society organisations to protest the withdrawal of fuel subsidy.

Thousands of people converged on the Filin Dala Open Field on Katsina Road in the metropolis in solidarity with labour to push for the reversal of the fuel subsidy removal.

The rally is coming on the heels of an earlier announcement by labour that workers should sit at home and that there would be no rallies and processions in view of the dicey security situation in the city.

Rallies and processions were suspended yesterday, day two of the oil subsidy removal strike.

Government establishments, including the Federal Secretariat are still under lock and key, despite the warning by the Federal Government to enforce the no-work no-pay on Federal Government workers who stay away from work.

The Kano Central Market and other major markets across the metropolis have remained closed but road-side traders and shop owners in some parts of the metropolis opened for business.

Commercial motor cyclists were seen operating on major routes that are not barricaded by security agents.

Meanwhile, the aerial surveillance operations, involving the use of helicopters belonging to the Nigerian Air Force and the Police Force, which started yesterday, continued on day three of the industrial action.

Heavy security presence is still noticeable in strategic locations across the city. Most of the roads are still empty, as many residents chose to stay indoors.

The city was peaceful and calm as at the time of filing this report.

Strike Continues in Delta 
The on-going strike action has become total throughout Delta State, as the organised labour were joined by members of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), market women and human rights groups to drive home their demand on the federal government to rescind its decision on fuel subsidy and revert petrol price to N65 per litre.

In parts of the state, especially Asaba, the state capital, Warri, Sapele, Abraka and Agbor, all public and private offices belonging to the federal and state governments, banks, schools and filling stations remained closed. Even the state-owned media establishments, Delta Broadcasting Service (DBS) and The Pointer Newspapers were under lock and key. Although the newspaper operated skeletally, the radio and television station were shut.

The state chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), William Akporehe, leading the protesters in the state capital called on all patriotic Nigerians to ignore threats by the governments that participating workers in the strike action would be laid off. He urged the people to join in the action because the protest is for the interest of the entire Nigerian people.

Meanwhile, the state Commissioner for Information, Chike Ogeah has appealed to labour to re- consider the option of dialogue between labour and federal government, saying that the negative effects of the strike outweighs what could be achieved in the long run.

He said that the Delta State government has evolved strategies by providing hundreds of buses and speed-boats which would mitigate the effect of fuel subsidy removal on Delta people.

The on-going protest in the state has been described as peaceful as armed security agents were on ground to ward off hoodlums who may want to hijack the protest and cause a breach of peace and security of lives and property.

According to the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr. Charles Muka, the state command is yet to receive any report of breakdown of law and order as he said that the Command had ensured that its men were dispatched to flashpoints in the state to forestall any kind of chaos.

Additions: Channeltv and AFP