Subsidy: ” It’s all for the future of our country”, Minister Okonjo- Iweala appeals for calm as strike spreads

    Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

    Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has made a passionate appeal to Nigerians to show understanding and work together with the government to create a conducive atmosphere for  nation’s governance.

    In a brief interview with Channel tv on Monday, the Finance Minister criticised the activities of many social media bloggers for peddling what she described as lies to run the government down.

    According to the Minister, at no time did she promise that the subsidy cut would be carried out in April.

    The apparently startled Minister however enumerated many of the programmes that the cut off money has been earmarked for.

    She explained that the Lagos townhall dialogue explained all details about the planned subsidy and the plan for its use.

    She spoke about her passion for Nigeria, claiming she had no other place to go and appealed to all Nigerians to back down on the current protest. She said  all decisions are being taken in the interest of the nation and the future.

    Her appeals came as Nigerians across the world  were united on Monday making  efforts  to force the government of Goodluck Jonathan to backdown on the removal of oil subsidy urging the government to restore  former price of  petrol in stations.

    The emerging effect of the nationwide strike on Monday has handicapped business activities across the nation and the threat by the nation’s Labour movement to continue the strike  on Monday may spell more doom for the nation’s economy.

    Three unfortunate deaths recorded and some injuries sustained by some protesters appear to have dented the government’s credibility and making the nation to play into international condemnation by human right bodies.

    “Unless the Government acts quickly, the nation  is on the threshold of a major political chaos and economic crisis with instability engulfing many states of the Federation and insecurity pervading all over the country.

    President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Abdulwaheed Omar declared that  protesters will continue to occupy the streets of Abuja until the Federal Government rescinds its decision on the removal of fuel subsidy.

    Speaking to Channels Television in Abuja, Comrade Omar says the removal of fuel subsidy is an anti-people policy that will further impoverish the people.

    President of the Trade Union Congress, Comrade Peter Esele and a former member of the House of Representatives, Dino Melaye criticised the decision of the Federal Government to deregulate the downstream sector of the petroleum industry.

    Some civil society activists also condemned the Federal Government’s action saying it is a misplaced priority.

    Meanwhile commercial activities are at a standstill in the Federal Capital Territory with the strike fully in place in the city.

    The Federal Secretariat is empty with workers firmly rooted in their homes in solidarity with the labour unions.

    But the streets are not entirely empty. Few cars are on the streets both private and commercial and pedestrians are walking freely from place to place.

    Thousands of Nigerians trooped out in various states of the nation, as organised labour, civil rights groups, professional bodies, and members of the public commence on rallies to protest the removal of petrol subsidy.

    In Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory, protesters who took off from the Berger junction resisted attempts by the police to stop them from going beyond the zone five bus stops.

    The protesters are insisting that they get to their destination, which is the Eagles square.

    From Abuja, to Kano state, Nigeria’s north – west region where our correspondent there says that a 15 year old boy has been killed after he was hit by a stray bullet.

    Security agents saved another nine year old boy from being crushed to death.

    Also security agents fired tear gas to disperse protesters trying to force their way into the government house.

    From Kano state to Minna, Niger state, where our reporter says there is a massive protest. At the moment, everywhere is closed for business. The protesters have matched to the state house of assembly in Minna, but there was no one to receive them.

    They are currently on their way to the government house.

    Now to Kwara state in Nigeria’s north-central region, our correspondent there says the state capital has been virtually shut down as a result of the strike action.

    In Ekiti state, Nigeria south west region, the Anglican bishop of Ekiti diocese, Most Rev. Peter Adekaye led a huge protest around the state capital.

    From Ekiti to Oyo state, protesters converged on Mapo Hall and they are asking for the reversal of pump price of petrol to N65 before any dialogue.

    In Ogun state also in Nigeria’s south – west region, where our correspondent says the strike action has recorded 100% compliance as streets, and roads were deserted, with commercial and vehicular activities grounded, government offices are also locked.

    In Lagos state also in Nigeria’s south-west region, the protests kicked off quite early with bonfires being lit on some roads.

    Irate youth have over roads on the Ikorodu axis, from Ogolonto junction through Ajegunle, Owode, mile 12 and Ketu.

    The youths lit bonfire on the road extorting money from motorists.

    The policemen stationed around there are reported to be calm, and have so far refrained from using force on the protesters.

    Former Information Minister Nweke speaks on the government decison about the subsidy removal