Mass Protest In Lagos

No Comments » May 14th, 2009 posted by // Categories: Nigeriawatch


Mass Protest In Lagos       

Written by Rasheed Komolafe and George Okojie, Lagos    

Thursday, 14 May 2009 02:30 
> Our destiny is in our hands  – NLC

President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Abdulwaheed Omar, and his Trade Union Congress counterpart, Comrade Peter Esele,  yesterday in Lagos urged Nigerians to support workers to pressurise the nation’s leaders to shed their “anti-Nigeria policies” or be booted out of power through the electoral process.

The call was a fallout of the planned mass rally by the labour and civil society coalition (LASCO) that kicked off from the National Stadium at 8 am in the morning through Ikorodu road and ended at the Lagos Government House, Alausa, at about 2.30 pm.

Speaking on the essence of the rally, Omar said, “We call on Nigerians to support us in this crusade to pressurise the nation’s leaders to change from the ill-advised, anti-Nigeria policies or be voted out of power since the mandate to choose leaders belongs to Nigerians.”

Omar urged Nigerians  not to fold their hands and allow corrupt leaders grind the nation to a halt.

“You know, we are fighting the issue of corruption and, as we continue to fight corruption, some people in government think that they can continue to wine and dine with those who have been identified as those who have seriously siphoned Nigeria’s money. And I don’t think that Nigerians are ready for that any longer.

“We are witnessing some kind of rehearsals in fuel stations where you have to stay in queues for two to three hours to get fuel. This is a deliberate plan to tell Nigerians that deregulation is justified. But we as Nigerians will not watch and allow the government try to muzzle us out of existence because the prices of petroleum products would have after-effects on every other product and service and, therefore, we say no to deregulation.”

The NLC boss, while presenting a letter to the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, to be delivered to President Umaru Yar’Adua, said, “The significance of our coming here today is to come and meet someone who some would consider as one of us, one of the very few credibly elected governors of this country and then present this message which he would on our behalf deliver to the Nigerian government and by extension the demand of Nigerians.”

Omar, who expressed his disappointment at the way things are being run in the country, said, ”President Yar’Adua told the nation that the election that ushered him in was grossly poor and promised Nigerians that he was going to ensure that reforms are effected”.

Omar argued that doctoring of retired Justice Uwais Electoral Committee’s Report by the Federal Executive Council recently negates Yar’Adua’s promises to Nigeria.

He said, “Comrades, unfortunately, what we saw in the submitted Electoral Committee Report of Justice Uwais was the Federal Executive Council doctoring it to the extent that it is almost rendering it useless. They have omitted vital areas, which, if implemented, would have created a credible atmosphere for people to be elected. And you know very well that if credible people are elected into offices, they would have the mind to settle down and do the will of the people.”

The TUC’s President General, Comrade Esele, who also spoke on the occasion, asked Nigerians to take their destiny in their hands now so as to make drastic changes in the nation’s democratic governance.

He said, “We are saying no to any tinkering by government on the Justice Uwais report on electoral reforms and we are going to continue to call on Nigerians to take their destiny in their hands for good democratic governance to be in place in the country.

“And that is why we have opened a register and we are calling on every responsible Nigerian to sign this register; the target is to get 20 million Nigerians to push forward a demand to our National Assembly that we want nothing short of the Justice Uwais Reform Committee.”

“We have made it clear that Nigerian workers demanded that we get a new minimum wage that we can call a living wage and we have made our calculation and came out with a reasonable amount of money; after that 52, 000 would be the minimum wage that an average Nigerian worker should take that would allow him live a decent life,” he further said.

Governor Fashola, while welcoming the organised labour leaders, said mass rallies and protests are ideal in any democracy in the world

He made this declaration while receiving the letter presented to him by the organised labour for delivery to President Yar’Adua.

He said, “I like to particularly congratulate all of us for holding a very peaceful and successful rally because mass rallies are ideal in every democracy in the world. I am congratulating you because a few years ago what you have done today would not have been possible, maybe police would have been deployed to stop you, maybe tear gas would have been fired against you by now, but this is a great achievement and it couldn’t have happened because we have attained sound government because your voice matters today and there is no longer restriction to obtain police permit. That is another major victory which you must congratulate yourself.”

“And   as long as this kind of   orderly and well articulated protests are organised there wouldn’t be any issue about police permit because this is the way it is done all over the world. Indeed, the police in this case were there to protect you”, he added.

“I like to say and promise that all the issues that have been appropriately captured in this letter would be delivered to Mr. President.”

He, however, said, “Permit me to say that I do not think that our leaders are unmindful of this problem; they are aware, but we have a role to play and that role is that we must see ourselves as part of the problems so that we can be part of the solution through your good suggestions.”

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