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Petrol price strike flops in Port Harcourt, Abuja, Lagos

Workers yesterday shunned the strike called by a faction of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) led by Ayuba Wabba to protest the increased price of petrol from N86.50 to N145. But there were rallies, which disrupted traffic in some cities.
All was normal in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja – the seat of the government – and in Lagos – the nation’s financial and business engine-room. The oil city of Port Harcourt, capital of Rivers State, and many other state capitals were peaceful and busy.
Rallies were held in many places, including Lagos and Abuja. They were addressed by Labour leaders and civil society organisations.

Activities in government, public and private establishments were going on in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
At the State Secretariat, work went on. Earlier in the day, there was an attempt by an NLC group to lock up the place.
Local Trade Union Congress (TUC) Chairman Chika Onuegbu described the failed strike as a “tragedy” and “minus” for labour movement.
Onuegbu said there was need for the two factions of the NLC to unite, stressing that the success of any labour movement depends on a single and common agenda.

He said TUC withdrew from the planned strike because it found out that the action would be a fruitless effort without any benefit on the workers.
The TUC chairman called on living founding fathers of the labour movement to intervene in the NLC crisis, cautioning the Federal Government not conclude that it has won the battle.
Bank workers and customers in Lagos ignored the strike call as banks were opened. Government offices were also open.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) report said security was beefed up at bank premises on Marina and the Lagos Central Business District (CBD) on Lagos Island.
There were normal activities in Ojuelegba, Mushin and on Ikorodu Road as well as other parts of Lagos. Traffic  moved freely all over the metropolis.
Major markets, such as the Computer Village, Katangowa, Mile 12, Ile-Epo and others were in full swing.
Petrol stations were dispensing fuel across the metropolis at N145 per litre. There were no queues.
At the Lagos State Government Secretariat, all was normal.
The Ikeja City Mall, housing the popular retailer Shoprite and major business outfits, was throbbing with people. All public and private schools in the Lagos metropolis were running.
Members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) did not heed labour’s call for a strike.

An Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) was stationed at the Gani Fawehinmi Park, Ojota, popularly called the Freedom Park, but no one was seen entering the park for any protest, unlike in 2012 during the fuel protest when thousands of Lagosians thronged the park.
However, hoodlums were in the morning reported to have blocked the ever-busy Ikorodu Road, but the situation was quickly put under check.
The National Union of Airport Transport Employees (NUATE) and the Association of Senior Services Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), threatened to shut down the Lagos Airport today, should the government fail to reverse the increase in petrol price.
They blocked major roads leading into the Lagos Airport, occasioning traffic gridlock on the Mobolaji Bank Anthony Way, Ikeja.
They seized the road early in the day, depriving limousine cab operators from taking passengers and airport workers to the airport.
Domestic carriers, including DANA Air, Arik, Aero, First Nation and Med-View operated skeletal services.
Most of them cancelled or re-scheduled flights because of low passenger turnout.
Most of the aviation agencies, including Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), opened their offices.
The Joint Action Front (JAF), led by Comrade Abiodun Aremu, staged a protest on the streets of Ikeja.
FCT workers declined to go on strike.
However, NLC President Wabba led out some members on a street protest which began from the Labour House to the Federal secretariat and terminated at the popular Berger Roundabout in the heart of the city.
Offices, banks and markets opened. There was heavy security presence around the city. Roads were, as usual busy.

The procession is to continue today, according to the NLC.
Policemen deployed to maintain the peace around the city were friendly and did not interfere with the procession. The labour leaders also refrained from harassing workers who turned out for work.
Addressing the protesters, Wabba pledged the commitment of the Congress to good governance and transparency in government business for the overall good of the people.
Wabba said the NLC would continue to fight against anti-people policies. “Therefore, Labour and particularly the NLC, has said consistently that if policies are right, we will support it. But if policies are anti-people, we will continue to resist it. That is why we are here today to resist this policy of the increase in fuel pump price.
“We must not allow market forces to drive the pump price of this very essential product in our country as continuous importation of fuel will be used to enslave Nigerians, the naira will be devaluated and prices will keep going up and there will be no end to it.”
Wabba said the congress will continue to demonstrate its commitment to the fight against corruption and good governance, adding the congress recognised the inherent corruption in the system, which, is responsible for the refineries not functioning.
He said the refineries could be turned around because Nigerian refineries are among the newest in the world. “We have refineries that have stayed up to 110 years and, with regular maintenance, refineries can be fixed and production capacity can also be upgraded for local consumption.”
National Union of Textiles, Garment and Tailoring Workers General Secretary Comrade Isa Aremu said the increase of petrol price by about 70 per cent was outrageous, adding: “You also increased the tariff of electricity with almost 50 per cent and there is no light. This is just too much for the common man as a lot of people are suffering.
The Chairman, Labour and Civil Society Coalition (LACSCO), Dr Dipo Fashina, said the increase of the price of fuel pump to N145 was arbitrary, unjust and against all rules of good governance.
Fashina said the increase was a subversion of the 1999 Constitution.

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