NLC leader omar
By SaharaReporters, New York
“This is an absolute falsehood,” it said in a statement issued by Owei Lakemfa, its Acting General Secretary. “Labour leaders are busy mobilizing for the indefinite strike action and mass protests which commence from Monday 9th January 2012, and have no time for frivolous, unsustainable and unproductive ‘dialogue’ with the Presidency or any of its Dialogue Committees,” it said.
The NLC’s denial came hours of confirmation by Saharareporters tonight that the presidency has in the past few days paid several millions of Naira to newspaper editors to insert the fictitious allegation that some oil marketers are funding the current nationwide uprising against the Jonathan regime. Each of the editors was reportedly paid N1 million each for publishing the rumour.
Our source revealed that the State Security Services disbursed the funds through an Abuja-based reporter attached to The Nation, which belongs to the ACN’s Bola Tinubu’s newspaper. The paper was carefully picked for the dubious strategy of accusing labour leaders of receiving bribes from the oil marketers to engage in next week’s planned strike.
In his denial, Mr. Lakemfa stressed that the Labor Movement has no intention to hold any discussion with the Federal Government or any of its officials until the price of petrol is reverted to N65 per litre, the Congress said the circulating rumours as mischievous and part of the government’s strategy to break the fuel hike protest. This is in line with the NLC’s position that the stories are being planted in the media by the Presidency and are a desperate ploy to divert attention from the mass protests.
It called on workers and the Nigerian people to ignore all such stories and remain focused and committed to participate actively in the general strikes, mass rallies and street protests starting from Monday 9th January, 2012.
The NLC emphasized that no oil marketer or any individual can fund a protest of the working people. “The negative impact of the increase in petrol prices is there to see; astronomical rise in the cost of transportation, school fees, medical bills, food and services. The Nigerian people, unlike those in government are independent minded and cannot be bought by any group be they marketers, the IMF or World Bank.”
Commenting on the announcement by the Presidency that it is importing 1,600 buses to cushion the effects of its hike in the price of petrol, the NLC said it was false because the buses in question are actually being imported by Trade Union Congress (TUC).
“Secondly, the announcement is laughable because if divided by the 774 Local Governments in the country, it amounts to 2 buses per Local Government,” the NLC pointed out.
“Thirdly, one would have thought that the Presidency would put these “cushioning effects” in place before the unreasonable hike in petrol price.”
Also tonight, Saharareporters learnt that the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation paid a whopping $1 million to the organizers of the “Townhall Meeting/Debate” hosted by the Publisher of Thisday Magazine, Nduka Obaigbena which was broadcast live on Channels TV in Lagos. The event attracted government ministers, labour leaders and civil society activists who enagegd in high-school-like debate on the subject of removal of gasoline subsidy.
When we contacted him, Mr. Obaigbena dismissed those reports. He said the event was sponsored by corporations and powerful businessmen, none of which, he claimed, was the NNPC.
Following an emergency meeting of the Federal Executive Council on Wednesday, the federal government announced that it would not go back on its removal of subsidies on petroleum products.
But the Nigeria Labour Congress, the Trade Union Congress and their pro-people allies announced the same day that if the federal government does not reverse the price of fuel to N65 a gallon immediately, it would next Monday declare nationwide and indefinite general strikes, mass rallies and street protests and would close down all offices, oil production centres, air and sea ports, fuel stations, markets and banks. It urged Nigerians to stockpile basic needs, especially food and water.
Today, the Nigeria Bar Association announced that all lawyers would join that action.