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Protests in Lagos, Osun, Edo over hardship

Ahead of today’s nationwide protests spearheaded by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) against the hardship in the land, demonstrations were held yesterday in Lagos, Osun…

Ahead of today’s nationwide protests spearheaded by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) against the hardship in the land, demonstrations were held yesterday in Lagos, Osun and Edo States against the cost of living crisis.

The NLC had insisted on the two-day mass protest, commencing today, despite the warnings by the Department of State Services (DSS) and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Lateef Fagbemi. The latter had cautioned that the planned mass protest was in contempt of court.

Meanwhile, the emergency close-door meeting which the federal government held last night with the NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) was deadlocked.

Addressing reporters after the six-hour meeting which took place at the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, NLC President Joe Ajaero said the protest would hold as planned.

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The meeting was attended by the SGF, George Akume; the Ministers of Agriculture; Budget and National Planning; Labour and Employment; the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice; the Head of Service of the Federation, Folasade Yemi-Esan, the Director-General of the DSS, among others.

Protesters in Lagos, led by a civil society group, Take It Back Movement (TIB), converged on the Ojuelegba Roundabout at 8.30am with placards and drums.

The group’s coordinator, Juwon Sanyaolu, said the protest was a demonstration of the people’s will against “oppressive tendencies and hardship.”

“The Tinubu-led government must immediately reverse the fuel subsidy removal, the floating of naira and other policies of the International Monetary Fund imposed on Nigerians,” he said.

The state’s Commissioner of Police, Adegoke Fayoade and his officers were on the ground to prevent the protest from being hijacked by troublemakers.

The CP said though Nigerians have the right to protest, it must be peaceful.

One of the protesters, Abiodun Aremu, said: “We’re making a clear demand of what Nigeria’s resources should be used for.”

In Osogbo, the Osun State capital, protesters, led by a Civil Society Organisation (CSO), Joint Action Front, assembled at Freedom Park and moved round major roads, including Ajegunle, Station Road, Fagbewesa and the Olaiya Junction.

They carried banners and placards with inscriptions such as “End Economic Hardship”; “FG, End the Hunger in Nigeria Now”.

A civil society leader in the state, Waheed Saka, urged President Tinubu to address the economic crisis, saying “the situation has become unbearable for most people in the country.”

Policemen and some civil defence corps officers were on ground during the protest to prevent hoodlums from hijacking it. Similarly, the Edo Civil Society Organisation (EDOCSO) yesterday led the hunger protest in Benin, the state capital. Commuters trekked long distances to their destinations as the protest caused gridlocks on  Ring Road, Akpakpava, Sepele and other adjourning roads in the city.

Addressing reporters during the  protest, the acting chairman of the group, Leftist Austin Enabulele said: “We cannot take the pains anymore. Enough of the hunger, enough of the hardship, enough of bad governance in Nigeria”.

He said if Tinubu could not fix the country, “he should resign and go”.

A pastor of Omega Fire Ministry, Benin, Azemhe Azena, who also spoke during the protest, said: “To prevent anger, crime, violence in the society, you have to attend to hunger. The prices of things are going up in Nigeria per hour.”


Kano, Kwara, Niger, Plateau, Bayelsa, Bauchi NLC set for protest

Chairmen of the NLC chapters in Kano, Kwara, Niger, Bauchi and Plateau States told our correspondents that they were ready for today’s nationwide protest as there was no counter directive from their national leaders.

This is just as the police commands in the listed states, including Adamawa and Bayelsa, said arrangements had been put in place to prevent any breakdown of law and order.


Maritime workers join NLC protest, to shut seaports

The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) yesterday vowed to shut down seaports for the NLC’s protest.

Rising from an emergency meeting held at its headquarters in Lagos, the leadership of the union said it would join NLC to protest the current hardship and hunger ravaging the country.

John Kennedy Ikemefuna, Head of Media of the union said: “In view of this, MWUN as an affiliate of the Nigeria Labour Congress, would, in totality, comply with the NLC directive.”


Roll out policies to end hardship, NYCN tells Tinubu, govs

The National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) yesterday urged President Tinubu and the 36 state governors to roll out economic policies that would mitigate the hardship in the land.

The council expressed concern about rising living costs, stressing that many students were struggling to feed.

Its president, Sukubo Sara-Igbe Sukubo, said: “Nigerians are hungry and angry; a hungry man is an angry man. We call on the president and the state governors to roll out programmes and policies that will resolve the economic and security challenges in our dear nation”.

He, however, asked Nigerians, especially youths, to be patient with the government as it strove to address the situation.


IGP puts officers on red alert, warns troublemakers

The police high command yesterday put its officers nationwide on red alert and warned those planning to hijack the protest, vowing to deal decisively with troublemakers.

The Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Kayode Egbetokun, in a statement by the Force spokesman, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, said all commissioners of police and their respective supervising officers had been instructed to coordinate the officers on ground to protect all protesters.

“The Nigeria Police Force, on the heels of the proposed nationwide protest by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), hereby affirms the fundamental right of all citizens of the country to engage in peaceful protest in line with extant laws.

“As such, the NPF reiterates its commitment to ensuring the rights and freedom of protesters are protected. In line with its lawful duty to maintain law and order, the Nigeria Police Force has deployed personnel nationwide and placed them on red alert to monitor the planned protest.

“While recognizing the importance of peaceful protest, the Nigeria Police Force remains vigilant against any attempts to hijack such protests by individuals or groups of persons with sinister intents.

“Emphatically, the Force, therefore, is fully prepared to respond swiftly and decisively to any unlawful activities or acts of violence that may threaten peace, public safety and security in the event of such.

“The Police will not allow wanton break down of law and order, loss of lives and property like we had experienced, in some instances, in the past, in any part of the country.

“The Inspector-General of Police urges all participants at the proposed protest to conduct themselves peacefully and responsibly, adhering to the principles of non-violence and respect for the rights of others.

“He also calls on the organisers to cooperate with the police and other relevant security agencies in ensuring that their protests remain peaceful and orderly even as the NPF works tirelessly to ensure that protests are conducted in a safe environment, conducive to the promotion of democracy and the rule of law in Nigeria”, he said in the statement.


Begin food importation now, TUC tells FG

The Trade Union Congress (TUC) yesterday urged the federal government to commence temporary importation of food items and other basic needs to address the cost of living crisis in the country.

It also asked government at all levels to lead by example by purchasing locally made or locally-assembled vehicles in Nigeria in order to shore up the value of the Naira.

Addressing reporters in Abuja, TUC President, Festus Osifo reiterated that his members would not participate in the NLC protest, saying the Congress would rather engage the government further to find solutions to the hardship in the land.

He said: “The quest for survival is real today than ever before; Nigerians must live to see tomorrow before we could understand how beautiful a government policy is. The national pride of striving to achieving food sufficiency locally and not importing from abroad should be temporarily relaxed.

“Government at all levels should immediately source and purchase sufficient quantities of food items from different parts of the world and distribute to the vulnerable Nigerians. Importing food from abroad at this point will assist in reducing the hyperinflation on food that is currently been experienced locally.

“For example, the price of rice is above the roof today because government at all levels are chasing rice producers to buy the available rice. Thus, with high demand and reduced or constant supply; prices will definitely soar.

“TUC hereby demands that government should as a matter of urgency commence importation and allow importation of essential food items into the country within the next two weeks”, he said.

Osifo said the TUC would “present the way forward we’ve highlighted to the government, not through protest.”

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