The Trade Union Congress, TUC, has blasted the Head of Service of the Federation, Dr Folasade Yemi Esan for warning civil servants against participating in the planned nationwide strike proposed by the Organised Labour.
TUC Chairman in Kogi State, Comrade Ranti Ojo, while speaking to newsmen yesterday, 24 hours to the proposed nationwide protest, insisted that the Federal Government has no right to threaten workers who are fighting for their rights in the country.
Comrade Ojo lamented the poor standard of living of many workers, stressing that Nigeria is not a banana republic where people can not speak when their rights are infringed on.
He said there is no going back on Monday’s nationwide protest, admonishing workers across the 774 Local Government Area in the country to disregard the warning coming from the Head of Service. Comrade Ojo explained that many top politicians revolted against former President Goodluck Jonathan when he increased the pump price of petrol.
“They were the ones that championed that protest castigating the administration of Jonathan for increasing the price of petrol. Now that they are ruling, the rhythm has changed. The price of petroleum at that time and now is doubled.
“The Head of Service knows she is not using her personal money to buy fuel in her car or pay the light bill. This is not what President Buhari promised us when we elected him in 2015. Nigerians are suffering, people are dying every day. Instead of this government to come up with palliatives that would reduce the suffering of the masses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, they are inflicting more pain on the people.
“This is total wickedness on the part of this government. Provided we are not violating the law of the land, the nationwide protest and strike will hold. Nothing can stop us. Here in Kogi, we have mobilised our workers for the mother of all protests on Monday.
When asked if the strike would still hold after a court order restraining the NLC and TUC from embarking on any form of industrial action pending the hearing and determination of a motion on notice, Comrade Ojo said”, labour is yet to receive or see any court order to that effect”.
“We don’t know what the court order entails. But one thing stands clear, we are not in a banana republic. This nation is governed by law and I know the supreme law of the land is the Nigeria constitution. I know the constitution has given not only the labour organization but all citizens of this country the right to protest. It is not the first time this is happening.
“There was a time under former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the Federal Government took the case to court. The Federal Government was represented by Afe Babalola (SAN), while the labour movement was represented by Femi Falana, (SAN). In that ruling by the supreme court, it was expressly stated that the right of citizens to protest cannot be caged. The court also affirmed that the act of protest is lawful.
‘We are standing under the platform of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which is binding on every individual, including Mr President and the Head of Service. We as the labour movement, we are law-abiding. Like I told you, we have not been served, we have not seen any order and we don’t know what the ruling contains.
“At the state council, we take directives from the National secretariat. We are mobilizing our members and we are battle-ready to hit the streets on Monday to protest the satanic act of the present administration.