Nigeria Labour Congress has dissociated itself from opportunistic politicians who have stylishly hijacked the current nationwide protest to launch political attacks on the government of Goodluck Jonathan.
In a statement to outline the outcome of the meeting held on Saturday night between government and Labour Union leaders, the nation’s union umbrella Organisation advised that anybody or group that wants a change in the political leadership of the country at whatever level, should do so through the ballot box”.
NLC had fulfilled its pledge of telling Nigerians details about the outcome of Saturday night’s meeting between the government and leaders of the union over the unions demand to reinstate the old price of 65Naira.
The Saturday night meeting was stalemated as both government and Labour leaders met to find a solution to the oil subsidy which has culminated in almost one week of protest by labour unions.
Labour had insisted that it would not release details of the meeting until all the organs of the Union had been met just as it was pressed on Saturday night.
According to a statement released from the Seretariat of NLC, the talks between the Federal Government and Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) in Abuja on Saturday 14th January, 2012 stalled due to differences on the methodology in finding a solution to the crisis.
Labour’s analysis of the situation is that “tension is very high in the land following the fuel price increase, the resultant strikes, rallies and street protests and the human causalities that have followed”. And that a suspension of the new petrol prices will reduce tension and return the country to normalcy.
Labour decided to make a plea to President Goodluck Jonathan in the overriding interest of the country to suspend the PMS (petrol) price increases and direct that talks between government and Labour be concluded on the petroleum industry especially at it affects fuel subsidy and pricing within a short time frame.
Labour made a pledge that once the price increase suspension is announced, Labour and its allies will immediately suspend the strikes, rallies and street protests.
The summary of Labour’s position at the meeting was that talks and consultations were on-going before government aborted them by announcing the 120-220 per cent increase in the price of petrol, and that it is necessary to return to the status quo in order to douse tension, return the country to normalcy and allow for a conducive atmosphere for consultations and talks.
However, Government’s only offer was to reduce the new prices while declining to allow a phased price increase. We think that the government position will not return the country to normalcy. The Labour Movement pledges that whenever and wherever government invites us for talks, we shall be there without any conditionality.
The Labour Movement once again reiterated that the strikes, rallies and streets protests must be peaceful and that the objective is the reversal of the petrol (PMS) prices to their pre-January 1, 2012 level. We are therefore not campaigning for ‘Regime Change’
Many opposition leaders have hijacked the current protest using it as political brickbat to hit the government and advocating the protest should be extended as a forum to fight corruption. This has made many Nigerians accuse Labour of condescending being used by politicians to achieve political score points.
The Labour Movement said it “is wedded to democracy, therefore, anybody or group that wants a change in the political leadership of the country at whatever level, should do so through the ballot box”.
The Labour Movement and its Civil Society allies are also saddened by the unprecedented loss of lives and injuries sustained during the indefinite strikes, rallies and streets protests that commenced from Monday January 9, 2012.
They also reiterated that those who visited violence on protesters and their masters who gave such “evil orders” will individually be brought to justice.
“We in the Labour Movement have done our duty to our country; we have made tremendous sacrifices including loss of lives; we have carried out the mandate of the Nigerian people; we can do no more”, NLC said.
They also vowed to continue the strike action until a lasting resolution is reached by both parties “For the avoidance of any doubt, the indefinite strikes, rallies and protests continue nationwide from Monday 16th January, 2012”.