Monday, 16 January 2012

News Release: Suspension Of Strike And Mass Protests Against Hike In Fuel Prices

Nigerian Protesters; Photo Credit: AP
In the past eight days through strikes, mass rallies, shutdown, debates and street protests, Nigerians demonstrated clearly that they cannot be taken for granted and that sovereignty belongs to them. 
In the last twenty four hours, the Labour Movement and its allies who had the historic responsibility of coordinating these mass actions have had cause to review the various actions and decided that in order to save lives and in the interest of national survival, these mass actions be suspended.
We note the major successes Nigerians scored in these past days in which they rose courageously as a people to take their destiny in their hands.
First, the Federal Government that chorused continuously that its decision to increase petrol (PMS) price to N141 is irreversible and irreducible, was forced to announce a price reduction to N97. We however state categorically that this new price was a unilateral one by the Government.
Secondly, Government has been made to adopt the policy to drastically reduce the cost of governance.
A third major success Nigerians recorded is to get the Federal Government to decisively move against the massive and crippling corruption in the oil sector.  While until now Government has seemed helpless to tackle corruption, the mass action of the people has compelled it to address accountability issues in the Sector.  In this wise, President Goodluck Jonathan has told the nation that the forensic audit report on the NNPC will be studied and proven acts of corruption will be sanctioned.
He also promised that accountability issues and current lapses in the oil sector will be speedily addressed including the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
A related success of the mass action by Nigerians is the vow of Government to bring to justice all those who have contributed in one way or another to the economic adversity of the country.
The Labour Movement commend Nigerians for their resolve to change the country for the better and we shall take advantage of the Government’s invitation to further engage on these issues.  This is in line with Labour’s resolve that the oil industry is too important to be left in the hands of bureaucrats, and that we have the patriotic duty to ensure that Nigerians get the best from this natural resource.
The least we owe our compatriots who have become martyrs in the patriotic struggle to reassert our sovereignty and ensure good governance is to remain steadfast and unbowed. Labour reiterates its demand that those who perpetuated violence against unarmed protests should be brought to justice.
With the experiences of the past eight days, we are sure that no government or institution will take Nigerians for granted again.
In view of the foregoing, Labour and its allies formally announce the suspension of strikes, mass rallies and protests across the country.  We demand the release of all those detained in the course of the strikes, rallies and street protests.
 We thank all Nigerians especially market men and women, artisans, youths, students, the Nigeria Bar Association, the Nigeria Medical Association, the National Assembly, Civil Society Organisations faith-based organizations, artistes and Nigerians in Diaspora for their invaluable support and active participation during the strikes, mass rallies and street protests.
Abdulwahed I. Omar                                                     Peter Esele
President, NLC                                                             President, TUC

News Report: Nigerian Government, Labour End Protests On Security Concern

President Goodluck Jonathan
The Federal government of Nigeria has reduced the pump price of petrol which it initially pegged at N141 per litre on new year day to N97 per litre in a last bid to persuade Labour and its civil society collaborators to call off its week long strike and protests, called to protest the increase, due to security concern.

After a meeting with governors and ministers yesterday, the Nigerian President; Dr. Goodluck Jonathan in a national broadcast this morning announced the newest pump price. Labour reacted immediately by suspending the protests, but asked its members to remain at home.

A high level Presidency contact informed chidi opara reports this morning that during the meeting, the President informed participants of a recent security report which detailed the hijack of the protests by an opposition political party and some disgruntled individuals who had had disagreements with the President.

The security report, according to this contact, also detailed a plan by the Al-quaeda linked Boko Haram to take advantage of the situation to wreck more havoc.

We could not ascertain at the time of preparing this report, how this information reached the Labour leaders, but it is likely that Governor Adams Oshohmole of Edo state, a former Labour leader, may have informed the Nigeria Labour Congress(NLC) and Trade Union Congress(TUC) Presidents of this development immediately after the meeting. An Oshohmole aide told chidi opara reports on phone this morning that; "oga is always calling the comrades".

Unconfirmed information available to us indicates that the Lagos protests are facilitated by a major opposition politician. Lagos is the commercial capital city of Nigeria and the major city in Lagos state. Lagos state is controlled by the Action Congress of Nigeria(ACN). A state security service(SSS) operative told a chidi opara reports network member in Lagos last week that; "we are closely watching key opposition figures here."

Some prominent Nigerians who have had disagreements with the President have been seen in the fore of the protests tagged "Occupy Nigeria", in major Nigerian cities and in major cities around the world.

Speech “Government Has Approved The Reduction Of The Pump Price Of Petrol To N97 Per Litre”

Jonathan: Nigerian President
Dear Compatriots,
 This is the second time in two weeks I will address you on the deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector. In the last seven days, the nation has witnessed a disruption of economic activities. Although, the economic imperatives for the policy have been well articulated by government, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) went ahead to declare a nationwide strike.
There was also near-breakdown of law and order in certain parts of the country as a result of the activities of some persons or groups of persons who took advantage of the situation to further
their narrow interests by engaging in acts of intimidation, harassment and outright subversion of the Nigerian state. I express my sympathy to those who were adversely affected by the protests.
At the inception of the deregulation policy, Government had set up the Justice Alfa Belgore Committee to liaise with Labour and other stakeholders to address likely grey areas in the policy, but despite all our efforts, Labour refused the option of dialogue and also disobeyed a restraining order of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria.
However, following the intervention of the Leadership of the National Assembly, and other well-meaning Nigerians, Labour accepted to meet with government, but this yielded no tangible result.
 It has become clear to government and all well-meaning Nigerians that other interests beyond the implementation of the deregulation policy have hijacked the protest. This has prevented an
objective assessment and consideration of all the contending issues for which dialogue was initiated by government. These same interests seek to promote discord, anarchy, and insecurity to the detriment of public peace.
Government appreciates that the implementation of the deregulation policy would cause initial hardships and commends Nigerians who have put forth suggestions and credible alternatives in
this regard. Government also salutes Nigerians who by and large, conducted themselves peacefully while expressing their grievances. Let me assure you that government will continue to respect the people's right to express themselves within the confines of the law and in accordance with the dictates of our democratic space.
Government will continue to pursue full deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector. However, given the hardships being suffered by Nigerians, and after due consideration and consultations with state governors and the leadership of the National Assembly, government has approved the reduction of the pump price of petrol to N97 per litre. The petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) has been directed to ensure compliance with this new pump price.
Government is working hard to reduce recurrent expenditure in line with current realities and to cut down on the cost of governance. In the meantime, government has commenced the implementation of the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment projects: including the Federal Government- assisted mass transit programme which is already in place, and job creation for the youth.
Furthermore, the legal and regulatory regime for the petroleum industry will be reviewed to address accountability issues and current lapses in the Industry. In this regard, the Petroleum
Industry Bill will be given accelerated attention. The report of the forensic audit carried out on the NNPC is being studied with a view to implementing the recommendations and sanctioning proven acts of corruption in the industry.
Let me assure Nigerians that this administration is irrevocably committed to tackling corruption in the petroleum industry as well as other sectors of the economy. Consequently, all those found to have contributed one way or the other to the economic adversity of the country will be dealt with in accordance with the law.
My dear compatriots, I urge you to show understanding for the imperatives of the adjustment in the pump price of petrol and give government your full support to ensure its successful implementation. I further appeal to Nigerians to go back to work and go about their normal duties as government has made adequate arrangements for the protection of life and property
throughout the federation.
Government will not condone brazen acts of criminality and subversion. As President, I have sworn to uphold the unity, peace and order of the Nigerian State and by the grace of God,
I intend to fully and effectively discharge that responsibility.  Let me add that we are desirous of further engagements with Labour. I urge our Labour leaders to call off their strike, and go back to work.
Nigeria belongs to all of us and we must collectively safeguard its unity.
Thank you. God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR
Federal Republic of Nigeria