Economic Hardship: How We Were Intimidated, Threatened Not To Protest- Ajaero


Feb 28, 2024

President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Joe Ajaero revealed that the organisation was intimidated and threatened not to go ahead with its two-day nationwide protest on mounting hardship and insecurity.

The NLC president said the congress has evidence from Tuesday’s protest of the “importation of agents who were mobilised to the protest routes and grounds to cause violence against the peaceful protest.”
Ajaero made the disclosure at a press conference on Wednesday in Abuja.

According to him, “We were threatened with all manners of consequences that would be meted on us if we went ahead. We were, however, not perturbed as lifting the heavy yoke of suffering upon Nigerian workers and masses left us with no option than to press on,”
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“God is, however, always a step ahead of the enemies of the workers and the Nigerian people. That was also one of the reasons we had to restructure on the second day of the nationwide protest.

“You may have noticed that almost all the routes to our office have been militarised this morning. It took a lot of time to access our office. These are not things you expect from a democratic society.

“We want to reiterate that if the government fails to comply within the specified time frame, the NEC will convene again to decide on the next line of action.
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“The NLC remains steadfast in its commitment to defending and promoting the interests of Nigerian workers and the downtrodden masses, who will not succumb to intimidation.”

The NLC had declared a two-day nationwide mass protest for February 27 and 28, over the high cost of living being faced by Nigerians since the removal of subsidy on petrol in May 2023 by President Bola Tinubu.

ADULAWO News reports that Tuesday morning, the protesters commenced their march from the Labour House, Abuja while chanting solidarity songs and slogans.

Similar rallies were staged in state capitals across the country.
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In a communique issued at the end of its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting on Tuesday, the NLC announced the suspension of the second day of the protest, adding that its objectives were achieved on the first day of the rallies.

While responding to why the Trade Union Congress (TUC) was not part of the protest, Ajaero said: “The NLC is not under any centre. We may decide to collaborate with anybody, any organisation, NGOs, or human rights organisations but we don’t owe them any explanation on the action we decide to take. And those organisations can still take their action and we will not query them.”

He insisted that the federal government was yet to meet the October 2023 demands going by feedback from its members.

He said: “The people they paid the wage award were not up to 40 per cent. It is not on board that any state government or Private Sector Company has paid wage awards. The Federal Government is both an employer and regulator. If an organisation is not paying it is the duty of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment to nip the crisis in the bud.”
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He hailed the conduct of the security agencies during the nationwide rally.

The Labour leader said the conduct of the security agencies was above board.

The NLC president said while the Congress will continue to attend meetings with the federal government, it will no longer do so on the eve of any of its actions.

He said: “Each time they invite us for a meeting, we will attend and listen to them. You are aware we held a meeting with the federal government on Sunday.

“But while that meeting was going on, they wrote a letter to all the unions to come and undermine us. There is nothing they have not done to subvert the NLC. But if we are invited to another meeting, we will still go and listen.”
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“However, henceforth, the NLC will no longer be comfortable attending meetings on the eve of any action. Nothing comes from such meetings than to delay us and demobilise us so we don’t carry out our actions.

“This is our new resolve. They cannot call us for a meeting when we have an action in two days and then keep us till late at night so we will not come out.”

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