The representative of Kaduna Central at the Nigerian Senate, Shehu Sani, has slammed President Muhammadu Buhari and his administration for attempting to muzzle the country’s labour union protesting the increment in the price of premium motor spirit.
Sani, who is from the same ruling political party with the president, said it was hypocritical trying to shut down the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the Trade Union Congress (TUC) as well as other labour-related bodies for trying to support the masses at this trying times when the party and its members wholeheartedly supported the same groups in 2012 during a similar action.
shehuThe senator, in a statement published by Premium Times, wondered why the government now sees those who do not support some of its policies as opposition.
The government had on Tuesday secured an injunction against a mass action to be spearheaded by the NLC and TUC, but Sani, on Wednesday, reminded the government that it had no power to restrict the groups from protesting against policies that can affect them.
Concerning the no-work-no-pay policy initiated by the government to stop civil servants from supporting the industrial action, Sani said it was simply a campaign of calumny by the government.
Currently in some parts of the country, heavily armed security men have been stationed to forestall any attempt by the organized labour to protest and shut down the economy.
According to Sani: “campaign of calumny and blackmail against the NLC and labour leaders simply for speaking out and standing up for their traditional constituents must stop.
“We joined and applauded the NLC for leading a mass protest against increase in pump prices of petroleum products in the past.
“It’s hypocritical to condemn them now for their principled stand on same issue. Our quests for justice and equity must not depend upon the government or persons in power but must depend upon the matters of principles at hand.”
Sani warned the government to desist from trying to stop labour or blackmail its members for doing what is believed to be just.
“The cloud of intimidation and blackmail against people for expressing their objections must end. We are now in a state whereby dissent is equated to disloyalty.
“We must learn to tolerate views and positions different from our own no matter how unpopular. If we must all agree on all issues at all times, democracy couldn’t have been ‘invented’.
“Democracy guarantees every citizen the fundamental right to free speech and to objection and this must be respected,” he said adding that those in support and those against all have same rights to their opinions.
He said it had become imperative for the people to understand that the political class define and view social justice in the colour of their personal interest.
“Those who stood against increase in price of petroleum products yesterday and stood for it today have betrayed the very principle which they claimed to represent.
“If for political convenience we choose to divide or destroy the Labour unions today, we will be harming the very organ that stands as the guardian of democracy.
“Increase in pump price of petroleum products does nothing other than add to the suffering of Nigerians but those in support of it have the constitutional rights to revere their chains.
“Unjust policies must not be beclouded by political interests and political convenience,” he said in a statement urging labour unions to go about their protests and dialogues peacefully.
Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti state, southwestern Nigeria, had last Thursday called President Muhammadu Buhari a hypocrite.
He also described the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) as an advanced fee fraud practitioner for deceiving the country’s citizens till it removed subsidy from premium motor spirit, also known as petrol.
Fayose, like many other Nigerians has remained angry since the Wednesday announcement by Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, the country’s minister of state for petroleum.
The governor, seen as a major critic of the president, released a second statement stating that Buhari and his APC had defrauded Nigerians by increasing the price of petrol from N86.50 to N145 per litre.