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Hardship: Protesters Storm National Assembly

Unlike previous protests, the gates of the NASS are thrown open, as the protesters enter without resistance from security personnel.


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Protesters at the NASS gate in Abuja on Tuesday, Feb 27, 2024.

 

Members of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) have stormed the National Assembly (NASS) complex in Abuja on Tuesday as they continued their protests over the rising cost of living in the country. 

The protesters who were carrying placards with diverse inscriptions, arrived at the National Assembly around 10 am.

Unlike previous protests, the gates of the NASS are thrown open, as the protesters enter without resistance from security personnel.

 

READ ALSO: NLC Protest Is About Hunger, Not Minimum Wage, Says Ajaero

Protests About Hunger, Not Minimum Wage

Meanwhile, the president of the NLC Joe Ajaero says the protests across the country are to let President Bola Tinubu know how Nigerians feel about the economic hardship.

According to him, the development is not just about the NLC but about hunger in Nigeria.

“We are here to, you know, do a rally so that Mr President, will know how Nigerians feel; will know where it is pinching us. You know, the tendency for you to have a president and the ministers and advisers around will not tell him exactly what happens is possible. So we are out to do a protest today to register before Nigerians the level of suffering and we are calling it a peaceful rally,” he said in Abuja on Tuesday.

“The meeting, you saw; there was a meeting on Sunday till late, and there was a meeting yesterday till late, all was aimed at saying, ‘Don’t come out’ but we are out for a peaceful rally to tell Nigerians that we are hungry. There is hunger in the land. There’s nobody that doesn’t know, there’s nobody that doesn’t know that a bag of rice is about N70,000 now or more. You can’t buy anything. Bread is out of reach. With N30,000 minimum wage, if you eat a loaf of bread every day, you’ll be spending almost N40,000.”

Although government and NLC authorities had met in a last-minute move to stop the protests, Ajaero pinned the demonstrations on the Federal Government’s inability to meet the union’s demands in the wake of the fuel subsidy removal.

“Somebody is saying we should not say this. We are going to tell the government, we are going to tell the whole world so that they can take measures to know where this is pinching us. Ordinary food produced in this country is being exported because the countries around us, their currencies are high.

“Now people prefer to go and sell it there where they will get better money. And nobody is checking even our borders. Check what is happening in Lagos.

“Customs said they were selling products they seized and there were about seven people that died. Have they compensated for such families? Who is responsible for the death of such people? There’s absolute hunger and you say we should not say we are hungry. So should we keep quiet and die? The answer is no. So that’s why we are coming out,” the NLC chief said.

He said: “This protest, is it all about minimum wage? You have to understand it. This protest is about hunger. What of those who are not working? The minimum wage, when will it be completed? When will it be implemented? What will be the minimum wage that will remove hunger?

“The UN said that every the poorest man should be fed on $2 per day. That’s the poorest. And if you have a family of six people, $2 per day by six is $12. In a month, you have $360 which translates to about N700,000. Is that the minimum wage you’re talking about? Is that what will feed you? That’s feeding alone. I’m not talking about transportation and accommodation. So what are we saying? What about medical? What are we saying?

“Well, you know, we don’t, we don’t tell them what to do. We will tell them how we feel. There was hunger in the land, but it wasn’t this bad until deregulation. And then after the regulation, we proposed all that we needed to. If they had solved the problem of transportation immediately, they would have solved almost 50% of the problem.

“Because even when you process garri in the village, you need to transport it to town. The expenses you incurred on transportation, you add it to the cost of garri

“So the moment they touch PMS, you can’t fill your tank with N30,000, N40,000. So the moment they touched it. We said, ‘OK, bring CNG buses. This is  7-8 months, no one bus is on the street. So we have provided all those solutions, even the cash transfer. They are still telling us now that they will start the cash transfer and they were playing politics with it that they were diverting it to their accounts. After today, we review our situation and decide on other steps to be taken.”