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Subsidy removal: Ajaero, NLC’s planned strike politically motivated – Afegbua

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Subsidy removal: Ajaero, NLC’s planned strike politically motivated – Afegbua

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..urges TUC, NUPENG, PENGASSAN, ASUU, others to place nation’s interest first

A former Commissioner for Information in Edo State, Prince Kassim Afegbua, on Sunday lambasted the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Joe Ajaero, over the union’s planned nationwide strike over the removal of fuel subsidy.

Afegbua accused the Ajaero-led NLC of becoming partisan and doing the bidding of the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi and his supporters.

NLC has scheduled a nationwide strike for Wednesday following President Bola Tinubu’s announcement of an end to the fuel subsidy regime in the country.

But the former Edo State information commissioner, in a statement on Sunday, further accused Ajaero of playing politics with the lives of workers and all other Nigerians by declaring a national strike over the matter.

Afegbua noted that Ajaero, who was part of the electioneering campaigns of Peter Obi, who also condemned fuel subsidy as an “organised crime” which he vowed to immediately put an end to, just like the other prominent presidential flagbearears, if elected during the 2023 presidential election, lacked the morality to continue to pretend to be fighting the cause of Nigerian workers.

The statement partly read, “The planned NLC strike reportedly slated for Wednesday 7 June is politically motivated; because the Ajaero-led NLC has become a partisan Congress, doing the bidding of Peter Obi, its presidential candidate. Joe Ajaero, is threatening to shut down the country through the backdoor, to create the wrong impression, that Nigerians are not happy with the new government. We all know that Joe Ajaero, the Nigeria Labour Congress president campaigned vigorously for Peter Obi, who also declared during his campaigns that subsidy was an “organised crime,” that would not stay a day longer, if he became president. Why then is the NLC now pretending as if the removal of subsidy is not a welcome development? All the frontline candidates during the last February Presidential election: Atiku, Obi, Kwankwaso, and Tinubu promised the removal of subsidy from day one. They all campaigned with it to woo voters. Why are Ajaero, Obi and Atiku suddenly behaving like the ostrich, appearing unaware of the evil of sustaining subsidy?

“Ajaero is poised to playing politics with the lives of workers and Nigerians. He has become partisan and lacks the moral rectitude to appear as though he’s fighting for the average worker. The government has started consultations to find the best cushioning initiatives and palliatives to mitigate the temporary pains associated with the subsidy removal. We all agreed that subsidy has become the hotbed of corruption in the country. Oil marketers are not only fraudulent, they have become dangerous economic predators that are breathing down our throats for too long. What the new administration of President Tinubu has done, was to uproot the issue from day one, to allow the opportunity for robust engagement on how best to provide cushioning initiatives. If he allowed subsidy a day longer, the desire to remove it would be hijacked by those economic predators who are ready to go to any length to thwart the process. We must collectively join hands together to halt the hurt of subsidy and save the country from wholesale corruption that has held us down for long.”

Afegbua, who appealed to other trade unions and all Nigerians to put the interest of the nation above all others in heeding the NLC’s call for a nationwide strike, further stated, “The new government has shown a desire to step on the sore toes of those who do not mean well for our economic wellbeing. Oil marketers have become economic saboteurs, frustrating all attempts to fix our refineries, because it pays them to keep our refineries out of operation. With the removal of subsidy, further attempts would be made to fix our refineries while also generating ideas to apply palliative measures to cushion the pains. All patriotic Nigerians must appreciate this altruistic intention of government to tackle this drain pipe in the nick of time, rather than dancing to the political tunes of Mr. Joe Ajaero. The Ajaero-led NLC must see the present situation from the perspective of its long term benefit instead of blindly threatening strike without exhausting the deliberations and consultations which the government has started with Labour. Aside from being politically motivated, nothing thus far, could be seen as the motivation for strike at a time Labour should be assisting government to deal a lethal blow to oil profiteers and predators. One gets the impression that NLC has become collaborators. What Ajaero is trying to do is to invoke the anger of their Labour Party supporters to provoke a strike, to distract government from taking the desired decision against subsidy removal. The time for politics is over: this is the age of setting new standards to rescue our dear nation from implosion and economic stagnation. NLC, NUPENG, PENGASSAN, ASUU JUSUN, and TUC, should please put the interest of the nation first, and at heart at this time.”

Below is the full text of Afegbua’s press statement:

AJAERO’S PLANNED LABOUR STRIKE IS POLITICALLY MOTIVATED – AFEGBUA

The planned NLC strike reportedly slated for Wednesday 7 June is politically motivated; because the Ajaero-led NLC has become a partisan Congress, doing the bidding of Peter Obi, its presidential candidate. Joe Ajaero, is threatening to shut down the country through the backdoor, to create the wrong impression, that Nigerians are not happy with the new government. We all know that Joe Ajaero, the Nigeria Labour Congress president campaigned vigorously for Peter Obi, who also declared during his campaigns that subsidy was an “organised crime,” that would not stay a day longer, if he became president. Why then is the NLC now pretending as if the removal of subsidy is not a welcome development? All the frontline candidates during the last February Presidential election: Atiku, Obi, Kwankwaso, and Tinubu promised the removal of subsidy from day one. They all campaigned with it to woo voters. Why are Ajaero, Obi and Atiku suddenly behaving like the ostrich, appearing unaware of the evil of sustaining subsidy?

Ajaero is poised to playing politics with the lives of workers and Nigerians. He has become partisan and lacks the moral rectitude to appear as though he’s fighting for the average worker. The government has started consultations to find the best cushioning initiatives and palliatives to mitigate the temporary pains associated with the subsidy removal. We all agreed that subsidy has become the hotbed of corruption in the country. Oil marketers are not only fraudulent, they have become dangerous economic predators that are breathing down our throats for too long. What the new administration of President Tinubu has done, was to uproot the issue from day one, to allow the opportunity for robust engagement on how best to provide cushioning initiatives. If he allowed subsidy a day longer, the desire to remove it would be hijacked by those economic predators who are ready to go to any length to thwart the process. We must collectively join hands together to halt the hurt of subsidy and save the country from wholesale corruption that has held us down for long.

The new government has shown a desire to step on the sore toes of those who do not mean well for our economic wellbeing. Oil marketers have become economic saboteurs, frustrating all attempts to fix our refineries, because it pays them to keep our refineries out of operation. With the removal of subsidy, further attempts would be made to fix our refineries while also generating ideas to apply palliative measures to cushion the pains. All patriotic Nigerians must appreciate this altruistic intention of government to tackle this drain pipe in the nick of time, rather than dancing to the political tunes of Mr. Joe Ajaero. The Ajaero-led NLC must see the present situation from the perspective of its long term benefit instead of blindly threatening strike without exhausting the deliberations and consultations which the government has started with Labour. Aside from being politically motivated, nothing thus far, could be seen as the motivation for strike at a time Labour should be assisting government to deal a lethal blow to oil profiteers and predators. One gets the impression that NLC has become collaborators. What Ajaero is trying to do is to invoke the anger of their Labour Party supporters to provoke a strike, to distract government from taking the desired decision against subsidy removal. The time for politics is over: this is the age of setting new standards to rescue our dear nation from implosion and economic stagnation. NLC, NUPENG, PENGASSAN, ASUU JUSUN, and TUC, should please put the interest of the nation first, and at heart at this time.

PRINCE KASSIM AFEGBUA.
Former Commissioner for Information, Edo State.