The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday declared a nationwide strike as from Wednesday. This was sequel to the removal of subsidy by the Federal Government (FG). Meanwhile a faith-based human rights group, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has accused the workers’ union of abusing civil liberty. The group urged NLC to allow the new administration to settle down.
This was contained in a statement released on Saturday, 3rd June, 2023 by the Executive Director of the group, Professor Ishaq Akintola.
He said :
“The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday declared a nationwide strike. The workers’ union wants the strike to start from Wednesday, 7th June, 2023. The industrial action is a counter move by Nigeria’s umbrella workers’ association against the withdrawal of subsidy by the Federal Government (FG).
“MURIC considers NLC’s declaration of strike at this particular time as an abuse of civic liberty. To declare a strike within four days of the inauguration of a new administration is rash, confrontational, provocative and unpatriotic. NLC is impatient. Its leaders have failed to demonstrate responsible leadership.
“A union can be radical but it must also be rational. NLC leadership has exhibited acute desertification of rationalism and responsible leadership. There must be human face in activism.
“NLC leadership has behaved as if it has an axe to grind with the new administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Neither has the union convinced Nigerians that its strike is based on informed opinion.
“How can an elite union go on strike because government is trying to save the masses from the clutches of a cabal comprising capitalist comprador bourgeoisie whose tool for the oppression of the hoi polloi is the exploitation of petroleum subsidy? How can NLC take an action calculated to protect the interests of those who are sucking the blood of the jamaaheer? It beggars belief.
“Nigeria’s situation requires better understanding on the part of NLC and other unions. The 2022 Multidimensional Poverty Index survey revealed that 63% of Nigerians (i.e. 133 million people) are multidimensionally poor. Our country is the 26th poorest nation and the 20th hungriest in the world. Eleven million Nigerians are undernourished. Per capita income is just a little above $300 and the average Nigerian relies on two dollars per day.
“Just 1% of the population which comprises of the super rich consume 85% of the resources. They grudgingly leave the remaining 15% for 99% of the population which is the extremely poor class. The average life span of Nigerians which was 74 before independence is now 47. It should be noted that average life span in Japan is 82. It is 78 in the United States.
“This widespread poverty is caused by uneven distribution of wealth. Too many people are poor. Too many people are suffering. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer due to anti-people economic policies like fuel subsidy through which an infinitesimally small number of people parasite upon the large majority of Nigerians courtesy of fuel subsidy.
“We must start somewhere if there must be change and striking at the oil subsidy cabal is a good beginning. Is NLC leadership with us or against us? Is NLC with the people or against them? This is the defining moment. Fuel subsidy is a gangarene that must be burned out with hot iron. NLC must join the Federal Government and the rest of Nigerians in excommunicating the fuel monster.
“MURIC urges NLC to reconsider its proposed strike. It is unpopular, anti-people and counterproductive. We must allow the Tinubu administration to settle down. By the way, Tinubu did not remove subsidy. His administration is just a victim of the continuity of government. You cannot talk with an administration once, in one day only and decide to go on strike. That is not dialogue.
“We appeal to opinion leaders, traditional rulers and all men and women of goodwill to make NLC leadership see reason. We also urge Nigerians to patiently persevere now in order to enjoy the benefits in the near future. Retaining fuel subsidy is like going to bed while the roof is on fire. Let us burn fuel subsidy before fuel subsidy burns up Nigeria.”