Protesters Blames Over Zealous Police Show Of Force For Pulling Down NASS Gate, Complex Invasion
The Pandemonium, erupted on Wednesday morning, at the first gate of the National Assembly (NASS) complex, as members of labour unions protesting the removal of fuel subsidy by the federal government broke down the gate and forced their way into the premises. The protesters in their hundreds convened at the Unity Fountain from where they marched to the NASS Complex.
The protesters, after forcing their way into the National Assembly complex through the first gate, subsequently moved to the second gate of the Assembly Complex even as Senators immediately entered a closed-door session.
The NLC and the TUC, as well as their affiliate unions had kicked off a protest in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, and other states of the Federation including Lagos, Abia, Plateau, Kaduna, Kano, Rivers, Zamfara, Katsina, Cross River, Ebonyi, Enugu, Kwara, Ogun, Imo, Ondo, and Edo.
The protesters in their hundreds convened at the Unity Fountain from where they marched to the NASS Complex.
With officials of the Nigeria Labour Congress, representatives of the Civil Society alongside other concerned citizens were protesting “anti-people” policies that were rolled out by the President Bola Tinubu administration.
Passersby observed the movement of patrol vans of men of the Nigeria Police Force, and Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps around the Unity Fountain, FMOJ among other strategic points. The exercise, it was gathered, was part of the measures put in place to ensure that the march wasn’t hijacked by non-state actors.
Senate President Godswill Akpabio is expected to address the protesters ahead of today’s screening of ministerial nominees.
Earlier, the NLC President, Joe Ajaero, told Channels Television at the Unity Fountain that there is “nothing stopping the protest, not even an overture from the government”.
Ajaero said the response from the states will determine “whether the protest will be from today, or tomorrow or next or till thy kingdom come, it is not by using force”.
“We are here for the protest and to make a statement that since we started the negotiation, there is nothing we have in our hands,” he said.
notable personalities among the protesters include a former national president of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba. Already, the Federal Ministry of Justice through its Permanent Secretary, Jeddy Agba, had filed a motion to prevent the protest.
The decision of the protesters to take a breather at the justice ministry might not be unconnected with the “war of words” between the ministry and the labour Centre.
He said that Organised Labour won’t shelve the protest until there is a desired response from the government.
Meanwhile, the Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, on Tuesday, warned against “violent mass protests” across the country.
Tinubu had removed subsidy on petrol during his epic inauguration speech on May 29, 2023, with a litre of petrol jumping from N184 to over N620 and food prices and general inflation galloping at an unprecedented rate.
Last week, the NLC issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Federal Government and demanded “the immediate reversal of all anti-poor policies of the federal government including the recent hike in PMS (Premium Motor Spirit) price, increase in public school fees, the release of the eight months withheld salary of university lecturers and workers”.
The union also demanded an upward review of the minimum wage from N30,000 to N200,000, saying that since the President’s “subsidy is gone” inauguration speech of May 29, 2023, the peace of mind of Nigerians has gone.
Several meetings between the Presidency and the unions on palliatives for Nigerians suffering hardship in the wake of the petrol subsidy removal proved abortive.
Also, the intervention of the Senate and the House of Representatives achieved no success as the unions insisted that the government’s palliatives package was out of touch with the economic realities that Nigerians face.
In a last-minute move to placate the aggrieved unions, Tinubu, in a broadcast to Nigerians on Monday night, promised to review workers’ salaries and minimum wage.
He also announced an N75 billion palliative for the manufacturing sector, saying 75 businesses would benefit within a nine-month period spanning the third quarter of 2023 to the first quarter of next year. Tinubu went on to declare an N125 billion fund to energize “this very important sector”.