‘A FIGHT TO THE FINISH’ – Nigerian General Strike is launched

Part of a mass lobby of the Nigerian Embassy in London on Friday which insisted that the fuel subsidy must be reinstated
Part of a mass lobby of the Nigerian Embassy in London on Friday which insisted that the fuel subsidy must be reinstated

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday called on workers and the rural poor to be ‘prepared for a fight to the finish’.

This came as the NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) intensified their preparations for today’s mass rally to launch an indefinite general strike against the removal of the country’s fuel subsidy.

The Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), the Nigeria Civil Service Union (NCSU), the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnic (ASUP) and the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN) were some of the unions that had effectively mobilised their members across the country to join the strike and mass rally.

A letter to branch chairmen, forwarded to Vice Chancellors, signed by SSANU President Samson Ugwoke and titled ‘Letter of authorisation to join the general strike declared by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC)’, called on all members of the union to join the strike.

The letter stressed: ‘SSANU, as a responsible affiliate of the Nigeria Labour Congress, is obligated to participate fully in the general strike/protests declared by the Congress over the recent fuel price increase.’

The Nigeria Civil Service Union (NCSU) also directed its members to fully mobilise and support the movement.

A text message sent by NCSU General Secretary, Gerald Ukeni read: ‘All state councils of NCSU are by this text directed to mobilise our members to commence total strike with effect from Monday, January 9, 2012; ensure that during the period union offices are kept open for coordination; keep in touch with the national headquarters for further clarification. Aluta continua.’

The NCSU President said that all civil servants would withdraw their services from today until their demand for fuel price reversal was met.

Meanwhile, the government of President Goodluck Jonathan has been organising strike breakers and the Road Transport Employers’ Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) has declared support for the subsidy removal and dissociated itself from the planned strike.

Security personnel have cordoned-off all the routes leading to the Eagle Square ahead of today’s planned rally.

Commenting on a pro-goverment demonstration on Friday, NLC Acting General Secretary, Owei Lakemfa, said in a statement: ‘The thugs numbering about 70, who were hired by government agents, later apologised for their action, claiming that they were not told they were being brought to attack the NLC.

‘They revealed that they were promised one thousand naira (N1,000) each to carry out the invasion. Subsequently, they forced the agents that brought them to pay the N1,000 fee right in the presence of the cameras.

‘The aim of the invasion was to cause a fracas and claim that workers are divided over the issue of the fuel price increase.

‘It is instructive that while the invasion was on, the FCT Police Command ignored calls by NLC officers to come and chase the thugs out of the Labour premises.’