NLC blasts Tinubu over protests comment, asks him to forget 2027 election

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has blasted President Bola Ahmed Tinubu over the comment made on the union’s Tuesday’s protest which he described as “unacceptable”.

The union asked the President Tinubu to forget about the 2027 election for now and channelled his energy in ending hunger and hardship in the country.

Tinubu, while inaugurating the Lagos Red Line Project on Thursday emphasized that the organised labour does not represent the sole opinions of Nigerians.

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Reacting to the President’s comment, the NLC, on Friday in a statement signed by Ajaero, asked Tinubu to show evidence of fulfilling any agreement reached with the organised labour within the nine months of his administration.

The NLC said it was regrettable that the President seems oblivious of the profound hardships endured by millions of Nigerians including pervasive hunger, unemployment, housing insecurity, and escalating costs of basic necessities such as food and healthcare which demand immediate attention and decisive action..

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”Yet, instead of addressing these pressing concerns, President Tinubu appears preoccupied with political calculations and future electoral prospects.

“The NLC wishes to emphasize that our primary objective is not to vie for political positions, including that of the President. Rather, our sole focus is on advocating for effective governance that prioritizes the welfare and security of all Nigerians. We urge President Tinubu to redirect his efforts towards fulfilling this fundamental duty of public office, rather than engaging in political rhetoric.

“It is imperative that we refocus our collective energy on addressing the substantive issues that have been the subject of engagement between Labour and the government since June 2023.

“These include critical matters such as wage increases, social welfare programs, infrastructure development, and the revitalization of key sectors such as education and healthcare,” the NLC president said.

He added that it is important to focus on the real issues because having engaged the government since June 2023 after the subsidy is gone statement.

“The issues are around the non-implementation of agreements reached between us and the government. For example; on June 5, 2023, after the hike in the Price of PMS, the following agreements were reached between us and the Government viz; Review Proposal for Wage Increase and Award including framework for timing and implementation

“Review the program of Cash Transfer and propose inclusion of low-income earners in the program; Review issues hindering effective delivery in the education sector and propose solutions for implementation; Revive the CNG conversion program; Review the framework for the completion of rehabilitation work on the Nation’s refineries; Review framework for the maintenance of Roads and expansion of Rail networks across the country.

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“Mr. President, these agreements were reached but the Committee that was saddled with working on these was never inaugurated and none of them was implemented until we were forced to organize a nationwide rally while the president gave his personal commitment. However, Mr. President, nothing came out of your promises,” Ajaero said.

The labour leader recalled that it took another round of protests for the October 2, 2023 agreement to be reached. “We outline the agreement below so that your government will tell Nigerians which one it has been able to implement. They are; The first item on the Agreement is the N35,000 Wage Award; Port Harcourt Refinery will come on stream by December, 2023; 25,000 cash transfers to 15 million poor households would be implemented; Tax waivers for workers, small businesses and the general public.

“Government interference in the internal affairs of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and RTEAN to be stopped; The agreement will be deposited as settlement with the Court by the Government; That CNG buses and 55,000 conversion kits will be provided; All parties shall henceforth commit to the use of social dialogue in all of our engagements; The National Minimum Wage Committee to be set up immediately; Outstanding Wages and Salaries for Tertiary Education workers in all federally – owned educational institutions to be paid; States and Private sectors to be compelled by the federal government to give Wage Award to workers; Fertilizer initiative to farmers across the nation; Provision of funds for MSMEs across the nation; Visitation to the Refinery to monitor completion of the PH refinery,” the NLC president said.

He reminded Tinubu that these issues are not election to take up the job of the President.

“Once again Mr. President, these are the issues and not election or perhaps seeking to take over your job. We would want Mr. President to show us the items his government has implemented in this agreement. Perhaps, the Government wants to tell Nigerians that we do not have the right to ask that it complies with the agreement it willingly reached with us.

“But besides all these, in the two MoUs signed with this government on the 5th of June and October 2nd 2023, which item has his government implemented beside rhetoric? The first MoU has seven items while the second has 15 items. It has been a chain of broken promises not only to Labour but to hungry Nigerians

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“President Tinubu’s administration must be held accountable for the commitments made in previous agreements with Labour. It is disheartening to note the apparent lack of progress in implementing these agreements, despite repeated assurances from the government. Nigerians deserve transparency and tangible results, not empty promises and bureaucratic delays.

“Furthermore, the use of divisive language and veiled threats against Labour by President Tinubu is unacceptable. It is incumbent upon all stakeholders to foster constructive dialogue and collaboration in addressing the myriad challenges facing our nation. Violence and intimidation have no place in a democratic society, and any attempts to suppress dissent will only exacerbate tensions and undermine our collective efforts towards progress and prosperity.

“Finally, the NLC reiterates its unwavering commitment to championing the interests of Nigerian workers and the broader populace. We call upon President Tinubu to heed the voices of ordinary Nigerians, prioritize governance over politics, and take meaningful steps towards building a more inclusive and equitable society,” the statement read.

Similarly, reacting to Tinubu’s comment, Osifo, while speaking in an interview on a television programme on Friday, said: “I could speak for the Trade Union Congress; we are not politicians, we are unionists, and it is our right to protest. It is a fundamental right of every single Nigerian. So we don’t have issues with protests when need be; people must exercise their rights, and people must protest.

“In terms of waiting till 2027 to enter politics, I don’t think that is something we could dabble into because, as an individual, I am not a card-carrying member of any political party.

“What I am interested in is the welfare of my members and indeed the entire Nigerian masses. So, the president is alien to us because the right to protest and strike is that of the workers.

“There are condition precedents, for the fact that you are going on a protest or strike, there are some things that led to it, those fundamental issues must be addressed.”

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