Nigerian civil society groups and other stakeholders on have strongly dissociated themselves from the country’s major labour unions for calling off their nationwide strike.
At a press briefing at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, the activists, led by Mr. Dino Melaye, a one-time federal lawmaker, accused the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) of orchestrating a “charade” with the intention of deceiving Nigerians they were fighting in the interest of the masses.
“We dissociate ourselves from the leadership of organised labour,” Melaye said. “We cannot forget that every day they vowed and promised Nigerians in all languages and chanting songs that they will not cave in to pressure from the government until the price of fuel is returned to N65 per litre.”
Melaye, along with several other professional, religious, youth and labour leaders across all sectors of the economy who had condemned the government’s sudden removal of fuel subsidies on January 1 remained resolute in insisting the federal government reverse to N65 per litre of petrol.
After a week of nationwide demonstrations called by labour since January 9, which led to the death of numerous protesters and a freeze in economic activity across the country, Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan went into negotiations with the leadership of organised labour headed by NLC President Abdulwaheed Omar and TUC President-General, Peter Esele. The outcome saw President Jonathan pegging the fuel price at N97, and labour backpedaling on their promises to millions of Nigeria.
“It is our firm belief that someday these men and women who chose to ignore the cries of the common people of this land and the promise they made to the trusting people but rather aligned with the conquering class will answer to the people of Nigeria,” Melaye added.
The social change activists, including Ezenwa Nwagwu (the Joint Action Front), Dr. Yunusa Tanko and Roz Ben-Okagbue (the Save Nigeria Group), Azeenarh Mohammed, Olaonikpekun Ademyemi, Kate Pam (Occupy Nigeria), Hon. Oyetakin Ebenezer (the Nigeria Advance Party), Pastor Sarah Omakwu (the Family Worship Centre), Dino Melaye (the Anti Corruption League) and Willy Ezugwu (CNPP), thereafter jointly presented a signed petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission calling for a probe of the petroleum sector. They also submitted to the anti-corruption agency a copy of the 2010 forensic report of KPMG, the international audit firm, which exposed the gross corruption in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
The coalition of the civil society groups also called on Nigeria’s petroleum minister and managers of key petroleum agencies to resign their positions pending investigations into alleged fraudulent payments on subsidy to fuel suppliers. Should they refuse, they said Nigerians expect President Jonathan to order them to “proceed on indefinite leave”, as an assurance of his genuine desire to fight corruption.