Saturday, 14 January 2012

Subsidy war:Expect mother of all strikes from Monday--labour.

Nigerians should brace
up, from Monday, for
what the Nigeria Labour
Congress (NLC)
yesterday called the
“Mother of all strikes”.
The President of the
NLC, Comrade
Abdulwaheed Omar,
said yesterday that
Nigerians should
prepare for a prolonged
strike from Monday if
the government does
not reverse the pump
price to N65 per litre.
The NLC boss did not
elaborate on what he
meant by “Mother of all
However, the
Petroleum and Natural
Gas Senior Staff
Association of Nigeria
Thursday threatened to
shut down operations in
the upstream and
downstream sectors,
including export
terminals, if by Sunday
the Federal Government
refuses to revert the
pump price of petrol to
N65 per litre.
At a briefing in Lagos,
PENGASSAN President,
Babatunde Ogun, said,
among other
implications, Nigeria
would default in its
contractual obligations
to the international
community as there
would be no crude and
gas supplies.
According to him, it
would cripple
power and healthcare
delivery to Nigerians and
the country will not
meet its crude
production quota for
the next six months.
His words: “PENGASSAN
remains committed to
the ongoing popular and
nationwide protests,
and will continue to
work with all concerned
groups to sustain the
struggle, until the
Federal Government
respects the will of
“The resolution of the
House of
Representatives and
the Senate has said it
“All branches of
downstream, refineries
and upstream sectors
have been and shall
remain fully mobilised in
the actualisation of
NLC/TUC directives on
the on-going strike.”
The Federal
Government on
Thursday night at a
meeting with Labour
insisted on full
deregulation of the
downstream sector of
the oil industry.
But the Labour insisted
on the mandate from
workers that
government must
reverse the pump price
to N65 per litre.
Apart from the reversal
to N65 per litre, Labour
is also asking for a 90-
day moratorium to
allow a window for
discussion between the
government and
stakeholders. The
stakeholders will look at
the challenges of
subsidy withdrawal,
pump price and ways
for appropriate pricing
for the PMS.
Both the NLC and Trade
Union Congress (TUC),
led by Comrade Peter
Esele, are scheduled to
take a final decision
today on whether to
continue with the
ongoing nationwide
strike action or suspend
A labour leader, who
spoke with our
correspondents, said:
"Saturday's session will
define the next stage
of the strike. The NECs
of the NLC and the TUC
will meet to take a final
decision on the
negotiation offers from
the government.
"After the NEC session,
the labour leaders will
also meet with the
government on the
same day. So, the strike
might either be called
off or continue."
The General Secretary
of the NLC, Comrade
Owei Lakemfa, said:
"Labour is giving
Nigerians an opportunity
on Saturday and Sunday
to refresh and stock
their homes with
foodstuffs in readiness
for a prolonged strike
action from Monday."
Notwithstanding, the
Labour yesterday held a
three-hour rally at Julius
Berger Roundabout in
At the rally, the NLC
President insisted that
the people's will must
prevail and "there is no
retreat, no surrender on
the demand for N65
pump price."
He also asked Nigerians
to prepare for the
“Mother of all strikes”
from Monday should
government fail to
reverse the pump price
to N65 per litre.
Omar said: "They say in
the definition of
democracy, there are
three sides. They say it
is government of the
people for the people
and by the people. This
word is true, no be so?
Na so! But do you know
the largest group of the
people? No! That is the
people. This means if
you run government, it
is people who will run
government that is by
the people. But if it is
run for the people,
therefore it is among
the people that you
choose another small
number of people to go
and do government.
"But when the large
number says this is
how it will be, is it
justifiable for the small
group that is working
for this large number to
say No? No! Therefore,
the people’s will must
prevail. I want to talk
today very briefly but
let me start, comrades,
by telling you about
where we are today.
"We have a committee
that plans everything
we do everyday. That is
why we take different
routes everyday.
Today, in consideration
of so many factors, our
planners said the only
way we can get relaxed
is during the weekend
so that by Monday, if
government is yet to
change the cost of fuel
from N145 per litre to
N65, we are going to
come out on Monday
very strong.
"Please, those who
have never come here
before, inform them,
maybe they are your
brothers, sisters or
your friends or even
your parents because in
Lagos , all ladies came
out to the streets and
protested. So, tell
everybody that we
should start coming in
such a way that we
must be noticed. If
Nigerian government
will not notice us, we
would be so large that
the international
communities will notice
us and they will begin to
talk to them”.
Omar added: "We want
to make sure that
people will get
refreshed by the
weekend, but Monday
morning, it is going to
be the ‘mother of all
crowds’. Do we agree?
Yes, do you agree? Yes.
I must say again on
behalf of my colleagues
that we are grateful.
"Several agencies of
government attempted
hired crowds, where
they will say they will
give them N5, 000 each
and get 1, 000 people.
The 1, 000 would
disappear in less than 1,
000 seconds. As soon
as they have taken the
money, they will go
away. Nobody is giving
you anything but you
are here because you
are patriotic, because
you love Nigeria and you
want your welfare to
"Therefore, this is
something we must
continue to do. I want
to assure you to relax
tomorrow and Sunday.
We will get ready for a
greater struggle
beginning from Monday."
The NLC President
debunked the
insinuations that labour
leaders have
The NLC President said:
"Yesterday or day
before yesterday, I
swore to you that we
are people of honour
and integrity. I swore to
you that we will do that
which we are asked to
do by the people.
"If anybody is practising
true democracy, we are
the people practising
true democracy. We are
saying that because
people put us here, they
have given us mandate.
We must have to carry
out the mandate of the
people and do you
remember the mandate
people gave us? What is
the mandate? N65 or
nothing! I tell you
comrades, this is
exactly the message
we have sent across to
the government.
"We are aware that
there are a lot of
rumours going round.
Some people will say
labour has
compromised. They
have given them
money, given them this
and that. I don't know,
comrades, who will
have the courage after
taking somebody's
food, you will still look
at him in the face and
abuse him, is it
possible? No!
"We went and told
them that the mandate
we have from Nigerian
people is that you have
to revert back to N65.
And when government
insisted and they keep
saying they are not
ready to come down
and reduce the price,
we told them that we
have principals but
because we have a
system, it is just by
calling the people who
gave us the mandate.
We said the highest
thing we can do is to go
back to our principals.
"We will give them the
message and it is up to
them to give us either a
new message or say
what are you talking?
Go back and maintain
our position. By the
night, we could not
agree yesterday with
the government.
Despite all their pleas
and what they told us
that our economy will
collapse, we told them
we have a mandate and
our standing mandate
is: reverse back to N65.
"If anybody is sending a
text message to you,
saying whatever, I
want to assure you
that as far as we are
concerned, it is just
blatant lies and nobody
will intimidate us with
those text messages.
If anybody has given
any money to anybody,
let that person come us
and say I have given a
particular sum of
money and we shall
pray with everybody to
say that whoever has
done this, Holy Ghost
He added: "And to our
Muslim brothers, we will
also ask them to do
Alqunut. That is to tell
you that, as far as we
are concerned, it is not
about money. If it is
about money, I tell you
by now, we would have
been exceedingly rich
and we would also
become part of the
cabal but that is not our
will. We have
undertaken for
ourselves that we
must always stand by
the masses and by the
grace of the Almighty,
so shall it be.
"Comrades, we have
discussed here and I
told you time without
number that some
government agencies
have been trying all
they could to destabilise
us in Abuja . And the
only way they think
they can do that is by
sending people to
create certain problem,
then government will
now make a broadcast
that because of the
security threat in Abuja,
there is going to be 24
hours’ curfew from
dusk to dawn so that
they will not allow us to
come out to meet
"But we believe our
strength always lies in
our unity and
collectivity. We must
continue to come out.
We are very grateful to
you that you are not
getting tired. In fact,
more and more people
are coming and we will
continue to come but,
comrades please, you
must also bear with us.
As your leaders, we will
never lead you astray
by the grace of God but
please, take it that all
plans to create problem,
we must avoid them."
On his part, the
President of the TUC,
Comrade Peter Esele,
said: "I want to say a
very big thank you for
all your support. The
other people give them
money. Did we give you
any money? If they give
you money, collect it
because that money is
your money that they
have stolen. That
money means the
education of your
children. That money
means good roads, that
money is your
"One thing you must
know, it is time for
change. We must
always seek good
governance. What do
we want? Good
governance. It is only
good governance that
will change this country.
The reason we are here
is that we love Nigeria.
If we love Nigeria we
must love one another.
It is for the love we
have for Nigeria that is
why we are here."
The Vice-President of
the NLC, Comrade Issa
Aremu, said: "As the
President of NLC has
said, without your
struggle, without your
sacrifice, the Federal
Government of Nigeria
could not have met
with the NLC and TUC
"And for the first time
in recent times, our
President, the Vice
President, the Senate
Government and
ministers have to meet
to address the plights
of Nigerians. It is due
to the struggle, which
you have put up in
Abuja , Lagos , in Kano ,
in Port-Harcourt and
virtually in all the 36
states of the
Ffederation. Let's give
them a hand of
"We should not give up
in this struggle. The
struggle is not over until
it is over. As Comrade
Omar has said, please
don't let us lose our
focus. We have to be
organised, we have to
be focused and we
have to be purposeful.
And we should not
forget what is our
demand. We don't want
other forces to add
other agenda that are
not our own.
"Government itself is
also spreading
propaganda so that
they can divide our
ranks. This propaganda
is what the NLC
president has said that
your leaders are being
compromised. And I am
happy he has addressed
He added: "There are
also some forces who
are not in government,
who have different
professions and they
want to have a
different agenda. I don't
want to mention
names because now
we have emergency
comrades. Don't you
know what we call
emergency comrades?
Those who used to be
in government and even
oppressed workers.
They are now
identifying with us. I
don't want to mention
names but you know
"So we must be
focused about our
agenda. Now the
second thing I want to
raise is that there are
those that are against
the masses. Please, let
us give one special
Gbosa! to the House of
Speaker for being with
the masses and
convening a meeting on
a Sunday to address
the plights of Nigeria
and they passed a
resolution to revert to
N65. And they also
called on Labour so that
we can suspend the
strike. I think we need
to commend them on
"So, let also give the
Senate President
applause. That is
Senator David Mark. I
also want to say that
there are some of the
governors but there are
some terrible governors.
And I want to say the
governor of Enugu
State, we need to give
a special boo to the
Governor of Enugu
State, Governor Sullivan
Chime. He was not just
pushing for the removal
of subsidy but he was
also attacking those
that are protesting. He
has a mobile court. This
is a governor we will
not only take to the
judicial process in
"So today we want to
reaffirm solidarity to
the people of Enugu
State . I want to
declare that we are
fully in solidarity with
them. And we call on
President Jonathan that
what he cannot do to
Nigeria is that we have
our right of freedom of
assembly. This is
because no governor
has the power of a
president. Yet, we are
peacefully protesting in
Abuja .
"So I want to say,
comrades, forward ever
and backward never.
Stay with your leaders
and your leaders will
stay with you.
Together with you, we
are going to achieve
victory. We have
decided to save Nigeria
and there is no going