Punch – 6/1/12
Coalition threatens ‘mother of all unrests’
January 6, 2012 by Akinwale Aboluwade, Ibadan
A coalition of civil society organisations, Nigeria Labour Congress and the Students Union Government, University of Ibadan, under the aegis of Joint Action Front, has said the protest against the removal of oil subsidy by President Goodluck Jonathan will be the “mother of all unrests” in the annals of Nigeria’s history.
The coalition, while reminding the Federal Government of last year’s civil unrest against Hosni Mubarak’s administration in Egypt, said the protest against the removal of subsidy on fuel would be total and prolonged.
At a press conference held at the Oyo State Secretariat of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Agodi, Ibadan on Thursday, the coalition stated that Nigerians were a free people who should not be subjected to the dictatorship tendencies of the President.
The coalition, led by the former Chairman of the University of Ibadan chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Dr. Ademola Aremu, asked the Federal Government to commence the payment of N52,200 for Nigerian workers in view of the prevailing cost of living in the country.
Aremu said the coalition had mobilised artisans, market women, workers and the private sector to participate in the mass rally in Ibadan on Monday.
The Thursday press conference was held simultaneously with the street rally that was coordinated by the Coalition of Ibadan Youths in collaboration with the SUG, UI chapter.
JAF insisted that the Federal Government’s action was against the implementation of hike in pump price and not the removal of the oil subsidy as claimed. Aremu said the move was a declaration of war on the Nigerian masses by the Jonathan-led administration. However, he said the move would be resisted by the masses.
The Oyo State chapter of JAF comprises Committee on Popular Education, the Democratic Socialist Movement, the United Action for Democracy, Socialist Workers League, Voters Assembly, Youth for a Better Nigeria, Civil Liberty Organisation, Academic Staff Union of Universities and Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union.
The coalition appealed to all Nigerians to come out enmasse to identify with the struggle. According to Aremu, the removal of oil subsidy is the height of insensitivity by the Federal Government to the plight of its citizens. He said the government decided to deceive Nigerians that the oil subsidy removal would not be effected before March 31, 2012 but suddenly effected the review on January 1.
Aremu said, “President Jonathan had two options: to stop corruption in the oil sector and nip the activities of the high profile oil cabal among the ruling elite or download the effect of the elite corruption on the masses of Nigeria through the hike in the prices of oil.
“Against his electoral promises and the stark reality on ground, the Jonathan administration has chosen the latter option to increase the price of fuel and make the masses suffer for the corruption of the elite and political class.”
Aremu explained that the Ibadan mass rally would coincide with the commencement of the nationwide strike that would cripple the economy and force the FG to rescind its decision.
JAF’s demands, among others are “an end to fuel price increases, nationalisation of the downstream oil sector, a halt and reversal of all IMF/World Bank-inspired reform programmes such as privatisation, deregulation, cut in public spending etc; nationalisation of the commanding heights of the economy and placing them under the control and management of workers against the hypocritical and selective anti corruption crusade.”