Protest: CSOs Back Labour, Say State Policies Causing Suffering

A coalition of civil society leaders and groups, named The Labour-Civil Society Front, has declared its support for today’s mass protest by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), adding that the soul of the movement is to ensure that pro-people and pro-poor issues are looked into by government.

The coalition which endorsed the nationwide mass protest on hardship slated for today and tomorrow, said the country is faced with dehumanising and disempowering state policies, which must be addressed as a matter of National Emergency.

The civil society leaders stated this in a press statement jointly signed by the national spokesperson, Labour – Civil Society Front, LCSF, Comrade (Amb) Nkoyo Toyo; spokesperson, United Action Front of Civil Society, Mallam Hamisu San Turaki; and convener, Country First Movement, Prof Chris Mustapha Nwaokobia Jnr.

They urged their members and allies across Nigeria to join and participate fully in the peaceful national protest to draw government’s attention to what they called the “unmitigated sufferings and impoverishment of Nigerians foisted by the mindless implementation of dehumanising economic policies of governments at both national and sub national levels of the country.”

The statement added, “Our decision to once align with the organized labour on this mass action does not in anyway have any political, ethnic or religious colouration, as hunger, declining health and orchestrated deaths ravaging Nigerian citizens, have not been discriminatory on grounds of political affiliation, ethnic and religious sentiments.”

Justifying their reason to join protest, the leaders listed their demands to include: “The general insecurity of lives and properties of Nigerians that has led to many untimely and avoidable deaths.

“The abject poverty and pauperisation  of everyday Nigerians and the associated sufferings and hunger ravaging the country. 

“The pervading crimes and kidnappings for ransom that have forced farmers to abandon their sources of livelihood thereby triggering food insecurity and hopelessness.

“The crash of the value of the Naira almost making it worthless and leading to the escalating cost of everyday necessities in the midst of mind bugling youth unemployment.

“The unconscionable increase in school fees and the non implementation of student loan, both forcing children of the poor out of public schools and further complicating their future.

“The extremely high cost of healthcare services and drugs has further deprived families of the quality of health needed.

 It is regrettable to watch the  speedy decline of health capabilities in Nigeria and the growing numbers of Nigerians who have been forced to resort to alternative medicine or resign to fate.”

They told President Bola Tinubu to halt the avoidable slide, act in the  overarching interest of masses by listening to their demands and draw immediate positive actions that go beyond countless unpredictable cosmetic palliatives to its primary obligation to protect lives and property and ensure the welfare and wellbeing of all citizens. 

“It is the right of Nigerians to protest and be protected as citizens while protesting peacefully, as envisaged by the Nigerian constitution. What the country is faced with today are dehumanising and disempowering State policies, which must be addressed as a matter of National Emergency. We therefore call on the Inspector General of Police to provide security to cover this peaceful protest as provided by section 83(4) of the Police Act and by extension the Nigerian constitution. We trust that taking a cue from there, the DSS will also provide credible and useful information to the government as this will work to ensure the good governance of Nigeria instead of throwing up panicky propaganda.

“We also wish to alert the country that some amorphous groups and state agents masquerading  as civil society coalitions have emerged to draw attention to themselves for pecuniary gains. However, as far as the best tradition of civil society organizations and youth network are concerned, we in the mainstream of the Nigerian civil society and its Leadership are not bothered. We are not affected by those making loose assertions of withdrawal from a protest they were not part of initiating, as they and their agenda will fritter away after this season of hunger and despondency.

“Finally, we have no doubt that our nationwide mass protest will foist the much needed national conversation in setting an agenda for improving the terrible welfare and wellbeing of Nigerians, a conversation which must be with the citizens and not the government speaking with their agents,” they said.


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