ABUJA- Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), on Friday, tackled the Federal Government for describing it as illegal and in contempt of court, the notice of protest and action declared by Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).
HURIWA, in a statement by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, said the administration of President Bola Tinubu is on a mission to send the Nigerian masses to their early graves with its anti-poor policies including the abrupt and poorly executed removal of fuel subsidy which caused the price of petrol per liter to rise from N184 to as high as N617.
The group said emphatically that no court order must be allowed to stop the nationwide industrial action of the NLC scheduled for August 2, 2023, saying that the only thing that can stop the planned protest is for the government to grant the demands of the labor union.
HURIWA further warned the NLC that should it capitulate to the judicial blackmail of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and chicken out of her publicized mass action in protest against increasing hardships due to poorly introduced economic austerity measures by this government will mark the end of the acceptance of the Nigerian Labour Congress by the masses because they will automatically be deemed as saboteurs.
The NLC had issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Tinubu administration to reverse “all anti-poor” people policies including the hike in the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) known as petrol.
The labor union also said since the President’s “subsidy is gone forever” speech, “the peace of mind of Nigerians has gone”.
The union demanded “the immediate reversal of all anti-poor policies of the federal government including the recent hike in PMS price, increase in public school fees, the release of the eight months withheld Salary of university lecturers and workers”.
However, the Federal Ministry of Justice, through Solicitor General of the Federation (SGF), Mrs. B.E. Jedy-Agba, said that the seven-day notice for the industrial action is in clear disregard of a National Industrial Court order of June 5, 2023, restraining the NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) from embarking on planned industrial action of any nature, pending hearing and determination of the perpetual Motion on Notice.
Commenting, HURIWA’s Onwubiko said, “The administration of President Bola Tinubu is clearly unfeeling and unsympathetic to the plight of the Nigerian masses which the new government has subjected to untold hardship right from Day 1 on May 29, 2023.
“No doubt, the Tinubu government has despised Nigerians with its anti-people policies including arbitrary increase in the price of petrol, subsidy removal without economic alternatives in place to cushion its effect, increase in fees of students of tertiary institutions, hike in electricity tariffs, amongst others.
“This is despite the fact that minimum wage is still at an unsustainable N30,000 while interest rate has been raised to 18.75%, and the consequent rise in inflation which is 22.79% amid soaring food prices and rising cost of transportation.
“The Federal Government cannot tell the labor union not to embark in industrial action. Can you beat a child and also stop him from crying? Any argument that workers can’t call for strike when costs of living become too high is like beating a baby with a belt and stopping the baby from wailing.
“The position of the Federal government is untenable and no court on earth can rule that workers should become slaves to death due to hard economic measures of government. More so, the order of interim injunction of the court was for the first fuel pump price adjustment and it does not apply to the second price hike of petrol as the government also breached the court order by expanding the hardships of workers and poor Nigerians.
“HURIWA urges the NLC not to capitulate to the propaganda of the government and the blackmail of applying gag orders whereas the hard economic policies of govt drives everyone to our early graves.”