July 16, 2024

NLC/ ASUU strike snowballs into a fuel price hike protest.

Oredola Adeola

The protest organized by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in solidarity with the striking Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is gaining momentum, and has snowballed into protesters demanding relief over the escalating cost of fuel, amongst other economic issues.

Recall that the NLC declared a nationwide peaceful procession from its Labor Houses across the country as an initial warning to the government to back down on the continued closure of universities across the country.

EnergyDay correspondents who monitored the situation gathered that the protest was attended by labor affiliates, including officials of the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), Senior Staff, Association of Nigerian Universities and other unions who came in solidarity with the organized labor umbrella.

The protesters carried placards with inscriptions demanding an end to the ASUU strike while asking the government to honor agreements.

The placards said, “Give Us Good Governance !

A peaceful atmosphere, however, pervaded the different protest locations monitored by our correspondents as security agents from the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corp (NSCDC) together with heavily armed DSS personnel provided cover to ensure no breach of the law or destruction of public property.

At the Lagos rally was Mr. Femi Falana, a human rights and constitutional lawyer, who echoed popular public views by blaming the Nigerian government for being responsible for the fuel price crisis and its conflicting claims on fuel subsidy removal.

Mrs Funmi Agnes Sessy, Chairperson of the Lagos Council of the NLC, at Ikeja protest ground, said that all the issues raised during the protest must be urgently addressed in order to avoid undue escalation by the involvement of dissidents, as was the case during the #EndSARS upheaval in 2020 .

Across the country, the biting impact of inflation, fuel price hikes, insecurity and the increasing incidences of theft of public funds by senior government officials have raised widespread discontent amongst the citizens.

The issues surrounding the closure of universities for the past six months were at the instance of the trade union regulating the affairs of university workers, who claimed that the government was habitually in default of financial obligations to its workers. This complaint has now crisscrossed with the economic impact of rising inflation and fuel price increases across the country.

Because of the unsustainable cost of maintaining the policy, the government is unlikely to reverse its decision to exit the subsidy regime. The Central Bank had announced that as much as 30% of the country’s oil revenue is devoted to defraying the cost of fuel subsidies and that it has placed the country’s economy on the precipice of crisis.

It is also unclear if the government will buckle and call off the strike to allow the country’s universities to reopen as demanded by the protesters.

The NLC has warned that the protest is continuing over the next two days, vowing that it could transform into a full blown protest that may shut down the country’s economy and other vital sectors.