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Nigerians pushed to the wall, plan mass protests

Petrol pump price increase

The Trade Union Congress (TUC),  other labour unions and Human Right Organizations are planning mass protests next week against the arbitrary increase in petrol pump rice and hike in the electricity within 24 hours by the Federal Government this week.

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The Trade Union Congress and 79 other civil society organisations and labour unions under the aegis of the Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond codenamed ASCAB, are set to hold nationwide protests and strike action next week over the increment of the fuel price and electricity tariff.

It was learnt that the Nigeria Labour Congress, which is part of ASCAB, was still holding a meeting as of Friday evening to determine its next line of action.

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Apart from NLC and TUC, some other affiliate members of ASCAB include: United Action for Democracy, Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre, Journalists for Democratic Rights, Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, Amalgamated Union of Public Corporation, Civil Services Technical and Recreational Services Employees, Civil Liberties Organisation (Bayelsa), and COPEAIDS Foundation, Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, among many others.

Confirming the development to one of our correspondents on the telephone on Friday, Human Rights Lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), said it was evil of the government to increase the prices of essential commodities during a pandemic.

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He said while other countries were making life easier for their citizens through tax cuts and palliatives, the Nigerian government was doing the exact opposite.

The activist said, “There is going to be a general strike and protest. We will fix a date after a meeting this evening. ASCAB is meeting today (Friday) with TUC leadership and about 79 others have indicated that they will take part in the national day of action against these anti-people developments. It will be next week but the date has not been picked yet.

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“Other nations are giving cash to their citizens, cancelling rents but Nigeria is imposing taxes and all other levies on its citizens. We will fight against it.”

Falana said the Pipelines and Product Marketing Company, which announced the fuel price increase, had no power to do so.

He also faulted claims by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, that there was nothing the government could do to intervene in the new petrol price.

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The senior advocate said Section 6 of the Petroleum Act gives the Minister of Petroleum the powers to determine the price of petroleum products and this had been affirmed by the courts.

Falana said, “The PPMC has no powers under the law to fix fuel price. Section 6 of the Petroleum Act makes it clear that it is the minister that can determine the price of petroleum products and the courts have affirmed this.”

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Meanwhile, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria says the recent hike in fuel price was not caused by the global price of crude oil but a deliberate devaluation of the naira by the Federal Government.

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Written by Adesoji OMOSEBI

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