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Shelve Planned Indefinite Strike, Tinubu, Sultan Beg NLC, TUC

‘I don’t believe they should embark on this strike in the next couple of days because the common man will suffer more than the leaders they are targeting’ – Sultan

Olawale Ajimotokan and Sunday Aborisade in Abuja

President Bola Tinubu and the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar have urged the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to shelve their planned indefinite strike over the removal of fuel subsidy by the federal government.
The organised labour has fixed Tuesday, October 3, for the commencement of an indefinite strike aimed at paralysing the entire country in protest against the harsh economic condition brought by the removal of fuel subsidy.

Speaking at a public lecture in Abuja to mark the nation’s 63rd independence anniversary, the President, represented by the Deputy Senate President, Barau Jibrin, appealed to the unions to give the government more time to address all the issues raised by them.

Jibrin stated that the federal government “is determined” to address the socio-economic challenges facing Nigeria.
He reiterated the commitment of the Tinubu administration to cushion the effect of the fuel subsidy removal.
The Deputy Senate President said: “The Sultan has talked about the issue of strike by NLC. I also call on behalf of His Excellency, the President, and the entire government that the labour leaders should shelve the strike.

“Let’s dialogue, let’s sit together, let’s understand ourselves and let’s look at the prevailing situation in the country. How do we meet the needs of this country, the challenges ahead and the current challenges? It is through dialogue that we can be able to solve our problems collectively.
“This government is new and it is working hard to bring succour to the entire people of this country. It has set aside N500 billion and other packages are being unveiled to cushion the effect of the subsidy removal. Therefore, we need to support and pray for the government. “

Earlier, the Sultan appealed to the organised labour to shelve the strike, saying they should give the federal government another chance.
“For God’s sake, for Allah’s sake, anybody planning to go on strike, should please give the government another chance. Please rethink and give the government another chance,” he said, emphasizing the need for the labour leaders to embrace dialogue.

He continued: “I don’t believe they should embark on this strike in the next couple of days because the common man will suffer more than the leaders they are targeting. President Tinubu will not know because he is in the Villa where everything is at his comfort.
“I think I am the only one who would feel that there is a strike because people will come to me. My house must open. I can’t ask anybody to go out. The common man will suffer more and that is why we are against anything strike by anybody,” Sultan said.
He also pleaded with unionists to give the government a couple of months to turn things around and wait if the government is indeed sincere with their promises.

The Sultan said: “People are impatient and we have every reason to be impatient because our lives matter. The government must find every way and means in ensuring that there is food on the table of the common man and that is why they are elected as the leaders. Like I have said and I have this fervent belief that the president is a listening president and when issues are taking place, he will look at such issues. And that is why I am an advocate of dialogue.
“Give the government the chance to see what they can do. Give them a couple of months and see if they are honest enough. If they are not, we are the ones who will even come out and say ‘look, this government has failed’. You cannot assess a government within the first three months. It is not possible because there is no government in the first place. They are just settling down.

“They are still in the court and there are distractions here and there. So, for God’s sake, for Allah’s sake, for peace to reign in our great country, anybody that wants to go on strike should have a rethink and allow the government to call these people at state level, at the national level, at every level to discuss some of these issues.

“But if we see things going wrong, we will even be the ones to say ‘go on strike’. Strike adds woes on the common man. There will be no electricity, there will be no transport and there will be no fuel. If you shut everything down, how will there be development? We are talking about socio-economic challenges. How will you face these challenges when you don’t have anything?”
The spiritual leader of the Islamic faith, who said he had been involved in dialogues with NLC and ASUU since 2007, said the country would be worse off in the next couple of months than it is now if the strike goes ahead as planned.
“And that is the fact. But if you feel you don’t love this country and you want the country down, then you can do what you think is right for you, but for us, it is not right and I will keep on saying it,” he said.

The Sultan urged the unions to sheathe their swords “in the interest of the masses.
“I am an advocate of dialogue because strikes don’t solve problems; they make them worse. Our leaders must tighten their belts, the common man is suffering.
“I don’t think this government will just decide to make life bad for the people; as leaders and elders, we will always call on stakeholders not to embark on journeys that will make life worse for the common man.

“I don’t think the government can take it upon itself to make life unbearable for the common man, let’s give them a chance and see what they can do. Please, let’s reach out to our brothers and sisters who are clamouring to go on strike. They should have a rethink,” the Sultan appealed.
On the 63rd Independence Anniversary of the country, the Sultan, who is also the President General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), said hope was not lost and urged all to have hope.

“Let us have hope, we must have hope, and let us not give up. We will get it right,” he said.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, George Akume anchored his pleas to the labour union not to embark on strike on the grounds that the nation’s economy is fragile at the moment and efforts are being put in place to revamp and reactivate it.
“We need to be tolerant and make more sacrifices to better tomorrow. If you do not sacrifice today, tomorrow may never come. Like the president has stated himself, these are pains of the birth of a baby. Better days are still ahead of us. We should always place the interest of the common man above other interests,” Akume said.

The guest speaker at the public lecture was Prof Luqman Zakariyah of the University of Abuja.
The theme of his lecture was Renewed Hope in a Face of Socio- Economic Challenges in Nigeria: Islamic Model.

NLC, TUC Shun Meeting with FG

Meanwhile, a scheduled meeting between the federal government and organised labour to prevent the nationwide strike by workers proposed for next Tuesday failed to hold yesterday.
The Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila, and the Minister of Labour and Employment, Simon Lalong, were to meet with labour leaders at the State House, Abuja, from about 3pm, but the meeting failed to hold because the Labour leaders including the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Joe Ajaero, and his TUC counterpart, refused to show up.
Lalong was sighted in the office of Gbajabiamila in preparation for the meeting, but as at about 5:30pm, the expected labour leaders had not shown up.
Sources in the office of the Chief of Staff, however, informed that the meeting had been rescheduled for the weekend, saying he could not ascertain the particular day.
The organised Labour settled for an all-out strike after accusing government of unseriousness, premising its reason for its strike on the economic downturn.