By Ekemini Simon
Organized labour and the Civil Societies allies in Akwa Ibom State are mobilizing Akwa Ibom workers and citizens for a potential mammoth protest over planned increase in fuel price.
The planned protest is targeted at Federal Government moves to increase the price of fuel from N165 per litre to between N380 to N408.
The Federal Government had said it cannot sustain a petrol subsidy regime especially with the Petroleum Industry Act in place hence It plans to replace the subsidy with N5,000 transport grant to 40 million poorest Nigerians.
This is coming 10 years after a far reaching protest and strike action rocked the country over increase in fuel price.
Briefing newsmen on Tuesday in Uyo after a high-powered joint meeting of organized labour and Civil Societies allies, the Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress, Akwa Ibom State Council, Comrade Sunny James said Organized labour and Civil Societies have agreed to mobilize Akwa Ibom workers and citizens to join other Nigerians to pressure the Nigerian government to get refineries to work.
He said the march which will hold nationwide on January 27, 2022 will witness the labour force and citizens in Akwa Ibom State gather at the State Secretariat of the Nigeria Labour Congress at 7am to move to Ibom plaza and proceed to Government House for the presentation of the position of the citizens on the issue.
Comrade James stated that after the march in the State, State actors will converge in Abuja on February 1, 2022 to proceed to the State House and give their protest letter to President Muhammadu Buhari.
The NLC Chairman explained that they are not against fuel subsidy removal but are concerned that without reasonable palliatives in place and government commitment to make refineries work, the removal will cause untold hardship.
He added “Collectively, we will leave no stone unturned to ensure Akwa Ibom workers and the citizens have the best. That is why we will be joining our counterparts across the 36 States and Federal Capital Territory.
” Nigerians do not want a repeat of what happened in 2012. We are not saying don’t remove fuel subsidies but we are saying put systems in place that would alleviate the suffering of that particular exercise. When you remove it from N165 and it moves to about N400 it is worrisome. NLC and the Civil Societies allies won’t fold hands to watch it removed without putting in place systems that would abate the effect.”
Comrade James described as questionable the Federal Government’s plan to give N5,000 transport grant to 40 million citizens described as poorest of the poor.
The Chairman said “For the Federal Government N5,000 transport grant, we want to state clearly that we are opposed to it because we don’t know the parameters which they will bring out to know the poorest of the poor.
“Many poor Nigerians do not have a bank account. Out of 200 million Nigerians, we don’t have up to 15 million bank accounts. It is someone that has money that has a bank account. That means the poorest of the poor do not have bank accounts. How do you want to transfer money to them? We want refined petroleum products in Nigeria. We don’t want to depend on an import driven model for petroleum products. That era should end”.
Present at the meeting were Chairman and Treasurer of Nigeria Labour Congress Akwa Ibom State Council, Chairman, Leadership for the Defense of Human Rights, Akwa Ibom State, Comrade David Ekanem, Executive Director of Policy Alert, Tijah Bolton-Akpan, Chairman, Civil Society Organisations in Akwa Ibom State Dr Harry Udoh, Chairman Civil Liberties Organisation, Otuekong FrankIyn Isong, Chairman National Association of Nigerian Students, Joint Campus Committee, Comrade Moses Itaketo and Chairman, Joint Public Service Negotiating Council, Comrade Etido Ukpong.