Quadri Olaleye, president of Trade Union Congress, TUC, has disclosed why strike action remains the only option left over the recent increase in electricity tariff and pump price of fuel by the federal government.
Olaleye who spoke on Saturday the ‘National Stakeholders’ Forum and Policy Documents Dissemination’ under the ‘Africa We Want’ project organised by ActionAid Nigeria in Abuja, said that TUC and the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, were disappointed by the government under President Muhammadu Buhari, following their promise to diversify the economy as their major campaign mantra before the 2015 presidential election.
He argued that had the administration diversified the economy, there would not have been any need to increase electricity tariff and pump price of PMS.
“Before labour can threaten to strike it means the government has failed to implement or listen to our suggestions. On many occasions, we have suggested a better way to run the economy,” he said.
He added: “We have suggested the need for the government to diversify the economy. The need for government to declare a state of emergency in agriculture because the food and raw materials we use in this country are imported, and there is need for government to diversify the economy and if it is diversified as this government promised in 2015 by now we will not have an issue of electricity tariff or issue of PMP price increase because people will have enough disposable income in their account to be able to patronise all these essential services but the issue is that the economy is not diversified and everybody’s attention is on crude oil, and most of their friends smile to banks without doing anything.
“As at May 2020 we made an alternative policy on how to run the economy and it was a very comprehensive alternative way to run the government but the government refused and now we are pushed to the wall. “The only option left for us is to declare strike and mass protest, and it is going to bring solution because what the strike needs to prove to the people that are ruling us is that we are the owners of the country and we are in the majority.”
According to him, subsidy is a fraud. “What is the subsidy? It is the only an avenue to give money to their friends and cronies. There is nothing called subsidy. Subsidy is a fraud! Anybody can come out and challenge us to tell us what is subsidy.
“During the last regime of President Jonathan they mention that they are going to stop subsidy and it was stopped then, and it was part of the campaign of APC that when they come on board they are going to stop the subsidy. In 2016 they announced they are going to kill the subsidy and supposed not to come alive again.
“Definitely it is just terminology to defraud the populace of this country and that is why we are putting action in a place where the people have been pushed to the wall.”
He alleged that the motive of the government to increase electricity tariff, the pump price of PMS, and others are to collect loans from the International Monetary Fund, IMF, for personal purposes.
Said he: “We must decide the policy that they are going to be on us and not them to decide because we believe they are being self-fish. They are putting all these increases all because of IMF loan and when we get that IMF loan who are the people that are going to benefit? They are the people that are going to benefit.
“They are the people that are going to embezzle the money. We know what happened in NDDC. Where are those monies, who are the people that embezzled the monies? They are not being probed and the National Assembly also postponed that investigation till eternity. Is that how to run the economy? That is why we are going to mobilize seriously to ensure that this time around we get it right.”