17th January, 2012
After six days of mass protests and rallies throughout the country organised by the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, the Trade Union Congress, TUC and their ally, the Civil Society Coalition, to protest the decision of the Federal Government to withdraw fuel subsidy, the labour leaders yesterday called off the strike due to security concerns.
The decison to call off the strike came shortly after President Goodluck Jonathan had in an early morning broadcast reduced the price of petrol from N141 to N97 per litre.
Though the six-day mass demonstrations did not achieve labour’s ultimate aim of forcing the price of petrol back to N65 a litre, Nigerians must be commended for their resistance to government’s decision to make life more difficult for them.
We commend their resolve and steadfastness to challenge the obnoxious policy of government to further pauperise them.
More than at any other time, Nigerians were able to openly express their grievances and deep seated mistrust of government and its intentions. Through their actions, they exposed the underbelly of corruption and mismanagement in government and challenged it to find solutions to them before increasing their burden through a double digit increase in the price of petrol.
They elevated government’s decision to remove subsidy on petrol to a level of national discourse and challenged the government to find an alternative means of generating more funds to finance its expenditure.
Immediately the decision to remove fuel subsidy was announced on the first day of the new year, they did not wait for organised labour before taking to the streets to protest what has turned out to be an unpopular government policy. In a peaceful manner, they organised marches and rallies to express their disapproval of the harsh government policy.
For six days, young and old, men and women took to the streets to express their frustrations with the government and its bad policies. They suffered deprivations in the course of articulating their grievances, yet they remained undaunted, insisting that the government must revert the price of petrol to its former price of N65 a litre.
We salute the heroic Nigerian people for being resolute in the face of massive government propaganda in the media to force the bitter pill down their throat. They remained unbowed until the last minute when organised labour, buffetted by massive propaganda, intimidation and threat capitulated by deciding to suspend the strike.
If for nothing else, what the subsidy removal debate has been able to expose is the massive corruption in government and the need to reduce the cost of governance which many Nigerians have described as outrageous and unacceptable.
President Jonathan also attested to this when he ordered a 25 percent reduction in the basic salary of political office holders and a drastic cut in overseas medical treatment by civil servants.
But Nigerians were not impressed with this cosmetic measures and demanded for a more drastic cut in the cost of governance.
We salute the courage of Nigerians and urged them not relent in their effort to make the government accountable to them. We must never forget those who lost their lives in the struggle. We appeal to organised labour to immortalise them and give succour to their families.