Protesters storm Lagos Assembly, Falana seeks social security bill


NLC protest in Lagos

By Esenvosa Izah

Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Femi Falana, says provision of palliatives is not enough to address the economic challenges facing Nigerians.

Falana spoke at the Lagos State House of Assembly, Alausa, on Tuesday, where protesting members of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) presented a letter of their grievances to the lawmakers, after marching from Ikeja.

He said that the government should rather address youth unemployment, and called on the state to put in place a law on social security.

“We want a bill for social security in the state, and if Lagos can start, other states will be compelled to follow suit.

“It is no longer enough to give palliatives; it must be on a permanent basis, and that is why a social security bill must be passed by the house in the interest of our people,” he said.

Falana commended the NLC for insisting on enforcing their rights to assemble peacefully and express themselves.

He said: “What you have done today is a major victory in the annals of our history.

“The Attorney-General of the Federation wrote to the police that what you are doing today will be contemptuous of court.

“We replied the government on behalf of NLC that there is nothing contemptuous in enforcing your rights.

“In this particular instance, you insisted on your rights and that is why the inspector general of police came out today,” he said.

Falana also spoke on the federal government’s decision to implement the Oronsaye report, saying he did not see it helping in reducing the cost of governance.

NAN reports that the national body of the NLC had announced a two-day protest against hardship and hunger affecting workers and Nigerians at large.

The NLC in Lagos had complied with the directive by marching from the Ikeja, under-bridge in Lagos to the State House of Assembly to present a letter stating their grievances.

The state Chairman, Mrs Funmi Sessi, while addressing members of the house, presented the letter to the speaker and clerk of the house.

“We hope that you are going to help us pass our message to the governor of Lagos State.

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“We want the governor to come out tomorrow to address us because we will be at the assembly again to continue our protest,” she said.

Responding, Noheem Adams, the Majority Leader, State House of Assembly, commended the leadership of the NLC for a peaceful protest.

Adams said: “We agree that protest is part of democracy and we appreciate this peaceful protest.

“Last week Tuesday at out plenary, honourable members discussed extensively on the issue of hunger and sufferings of the people of the state and Nigeria.

“However, we passed a resolution to the governor to roll out palliatives, permanent one, to the people of the state.

“Just about six days ago, the governor of the state rolled out these palliatives and he talked about reduction in BRT and others.

“Also, just yesterday, a special committee was inaugurated and we assure you things will be shaped in the state.”

The Federation of Informal Workers of Nigeria (FIWON), on the sidelines, urged the Federal Government to invest in the fundamental structure of the economy.

FIWON’s General Secretary, Mr Gbenga Komolafe, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Lagos.

Komolafe said this was a necessary step to address the hardship facing the citizenry, rather than planning to implement the Oronsaye report.

Komolafe said that the protest by the workers was beyond cost of petrol and transportation, but about jobs, overall levers of the economy.

He said, “That is why Nigerians must pay more attention to it; we must examine why we are hungry in the midst of so much plenty.

“Quite candidly, we do not think that the issue on ground can be addressed with such measures.

“Like we have said, we need fundamental shift in the paradigms of the management of the economy of this country.

“Government must invest in education; healthcare; industries, especially the critical super structure of the economy,” he said.

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