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Economic Hardship: NLC Protest Doesn’t Show Patriotism, Says Umahi

His comment is in reaction to the recent protests by the NLC over the precarious economic situation in the country.


FILES: A protester waves a flag of the National Labour Congress (NLC) during a protest in Abuja on February 27, 2024 (Photo by Kola Sulaimon / AFP)

 

Minister of Works David Umahi has described as unpatriotic the national protests by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC).

His comment, made on Monday while inspecting the Enugu-Port Harcourt Road, is in reaction to the recent protests by the NLC over the precarious economic situation in the country.

Soaring inflation, at 29.9 per cent in February, and the consequent cost of living and hunger across the country had led to protests by citizens with the NLC holding a nationwide strike on Tuesday last week.

Umahi, however, believes the latest protest is one too many under the less-than-a-year-old President Bola Tinubu administration.

“It was very wrong for labour to embark on strike four times within nine months. It doesn’t show patriotism, or that they are in this country and understand the problems we are going through,” he said while inspecting the Enugu-Port Harcourt road on Monday,

For the minister, contrary to the position of labour and despite the current situation, the government had set things in motion for better times ahead.

He said, “Mr President is working and everyone will soon feel the impact of his hard work in making sure that things go well in the country. This hunger we are talking about is not a thing of today. It dates back to the past administrations.

“Farmers have to go back to their farms. However, I am not saying people should go to the farm amidst insecurity. But the sad thing about it is that the people who currently presided over the issue of insecurity back then are the ones criticising us now.

“We had this issue of the herders and farmers crisis when people could no longer go to their farms. And that was even over 10 years ago. And Mr president came to solve all these problems.”

Umahi is not the first government official to fault the protest by the NLC.

President Tinubu is also unhappy with the actions of organised labour.

On Thursday, two days after the NLC protest, the President chided the unions during an official visit to Lagos State to commission the Red Line train.

“The Labour Union should understand that no matter how long we cling to our freedom and rights, the first strike within nine months of an administration is unacceptable,” President Tinubu said.

“If you want to participate in the electoral process, wait until 2027. If not maintain peace. You are not the only voice of Nigerians.”