Labour might have downgraded the national strike called by the Ayuba Wabba-led faction of the Nigeria Labour Cogress (NLC) to a mere protest as protesters resorted to arm-twisting tactics in some cities to force people to join the action in protest against the hike in petrol price to N145 from N86.50.F
NLC President Ayuba Wabba said yesterday he was not bothered for standing alone in the “struggle”, to the lukewarm attitude of Nigerians to the call.
He said: “This is about policy engagement. This action is to resist a policy that has been imposed on us and we have made the point clearly. The NLC must be seen to be consistent in standing by the truth and by the people to the extent that those policies are not consistent with the ideas of ensuring social justice.
“We will continue to resist the N145 fuel pump which has been imposed on us because this is a further exploitation to the hardship already in the country. Therefore we thought that we should make this position known. We are not worried that we are fighting this battle alone, because historically the NLC has always stood with the people.
Speaking on the ruling of the industrial court sopping the strike, Wabba said: “We have not been put on notice, but when we were meeting with government they tried to bring that issue. But as at today, we have not actually been served
“On the issue of returning to the table for negotiation, I am not sure that we have received any further invitation from government. The protest is to make the issue clear that this is a policy that Nigerians, particularly the working class cannot be able to go with especially looking at the high cost of goods and services
“The protest for now is going to last for one or two week, then we can now review our position and look at how best to look at a lot of other options. We will do a review by the middle of next week.
“We do not want to sign something and at the end of the day, the public will say where was the NLC when these issues were canvassed. Even the reduction from N145, they say it is sacrosanct and that it is not possible to reduce anything and we should expect that it will continue.
“The purpose of calling this action, is actual to make a point and offer leadership”.
However, a team of police officers escorted the protesters from the Julius Berger roundabout to Area 1 where there was heavy security to prevent a breakdown of law and order.
It took the timely intervention of security agencies to avert a possible clash between labour protesters and a large number of youth who besieged the Area 1 motor park, waving brooms and chanting pro-Buhari slogans.
The security agents had a hectic day trying to prevent a group of youths in the areas from confronting the labour protesters and when the NLC leaders and civil society activists addressed the crowd, the chanted Sai Buhari, almost drowning the speech of the labour leaders.
Spokesman of the youth who identified himself as Abubakar Adamu Guduf said they mobilised support for the government of President Muhammadu Buhari because labour did not speak for them when the Boko Haram terrorists were ravaging the North East.
“The reason why we are against the NLC is that none of them came out to protest against what Boko Haram was doing under former President Goodluck Jonathan or how government left our people to be killed like fowl. They abandoned us in the North East
“But now, Buhari is doing well, we now have peace and I can now go to Gwoza, my local government area and they say Buhari is not good”, Guduf said.
Another native of Gwoza, a 30year-old young man, Mr. Abass Gafaru Wiso, who spoke through an interpreter said he would support the president to any length because he lost his parents to Boko Haram attack.
General Secretary of the Congress, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, said in a statement that the labour leaders are determined to continue with the action and asked Nigerians to come out enmasse to support the action.