The leadership of organised labour is at it again. After successfully pulling the wool over the faces of Nigerians, who sacrificed their convenience early last year to join the march to resist the federal government’s removal of fuel subsidy, only for them to go behind us and betray the collective trust of the Nigerian people by hobnobbing government officials and then unceremoniously calling off the nationwide strike, leaving us wondering what was going on, they are again calling for another round of mass action.
Recently, the President of Trade Union Congress (TUC) announced that the body would embark on another round of organised civil disobedience on April 10, to press home their rejection of the planned increase in the prices of petroleum products. Peter Esele, President-general of TUC, said that the decision for another mass protest was taken at the last National Executive Council meeting of the Congress and that Labour, working with civil society groups, has already started mobilising for the protest.
In his address, Peter Esele vowed that Nigerians will resist any new increase in the prices of petroleum products with “everything humanly possible.” Beyond all the grammar of Mr. Esele, we need to dissect the motivation behind his threats this time around. After leaving innocent Nigerians in the lurch during the last protest when he and his cohorts abruptly called off the strike, does he think labour leaders have the moral justification to call for any mass action again? What is the point embarking on another mass action?
I honestly think that labour leaders have lost grip of contemporary reality. The 2013 budget has been passed, and payment of fuel subsidy is obviously included in the Budget, where then did Labour get their news that the government is about to cancel the payment of fuel subsidy? Rather than ranting in the media and distracting well-meaning Nigerians from their work, the labour leaders should work in hand with the Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, in her effort to bring corrupt and greedy oil marketers, who have sapped us of sum running into trillions of naira, to book. I think our labour activities are better channelled now to ensuring accountability in the subsidy disbursement regime rather than crying wolf where there is none.
The truth is, having had a field day hitherto draining this country of huge amount claimed for fictitious oil imports; we can be sure that the oil marketers would resist every measure put in place to ensure that subsidy funds are properly accounted for. And, for all we know, they could be the ones instigating our labour leaders to muddle up the water so as to divert attention from the real task of pursuing accountability in subsidy payments. After all, it is now an open secret that some labour leaders and activists are open to the highest bidders.
Indeed, no agency, ministry or institution can win this battle against fraud in the oil sector alone. We, Nigerians, must collectively stand up and call our leaders and representatives to task. It is plain dumb to be calling for industrial action when there are better and more effective courses of action to get our desired result.
At a time when our nation is grunting under the brunt of serious security challenges, we should not be the ones aggravating the security situation in our country. If anything, we should be actively engaged doing our best to mitigate the danger, not fuelling it.
We are wiser now. No group or labour organisation can fool us!
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