Cash, Fuel Scarcity: NLC Begins Strike Nationwide March 29

ABUJA – Following the expiration of the 7- day ultimatum it earlier issued to federal government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to address the issues of cash and fuel scarcity which has put Nigerians in difficulties and untold sufferings, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has said it would by Wednesday next week begin nationwide strike and picketing of CBN offices across the country.

It said the mobilisation for the strike would begin with the state councils meeting on Friday this week in readiness for full action on Wednesday next week.

President of NLC, Joe Ajaero who addressed newsmen in Abuja yesterday said the resolved action would be total until further notice.

He said: “Last week at the end of our CWC meeting, we gave a one week ultimatum for the federal government to address immediately, among other issues, issue of cash crunch that was caused by the policy.

“As at this morning when the Central Working Committee (CWC) met again to review the situation, we discovered that not much, improvement has been made.

“The situation is still almost the same. People are still buying our currency with our currencies. People still can not assess the currency and the government seems to be very adamant on this. No moves have been made to reduce the suffering of Nigerians.

“Consequently, the CWC-in-session resolved to go into the process of actualizing the one week notice.

“From Friday, there will be mobilisation of all state councils through a NEC meeting. All unions have already been directed to mobilize all their organs and their branches.

“By Wednesday, next week, all Central Bank of Nigeria offices nationwide will be picketed.

“All central bank from the CBN headquarters will be shut till further notice. Workers are directed to stay at home and join in the picketing exercise.

“We call on Nigerians to understand the circumstances we’re operating in. People will be telling you about the political situation.

“The political situation is self inflicted and the economic situation is worst than the political situation because people cannot eat.

“Workers can no longer go to office and nothing is happening. So we have been pushed to the wall having given one week and we thought they could address the situation which is not addressed.

“We have decided to take our destiny in our hands. So comrades, the mobilisation commences immediately and when we talk of action from Wednesday, it’s total. Until further notice”.

On the just concluded elections across the country,.the NLC president said the process was characterized with irregularities, violence and vote buying, saying the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is not what it should be.

He urged the Nigerians courts to do justice with issues before them for peace to reign, while enjoining Nigerians to be patient with the process.

Recall that NLC, last week gave the federal government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) 7 working days ultimatum to address the issues, or face shut down of the country.

The NLC also urged the courts to do justice to the election cases before them to reduce tension and ill-feelings associated with the outcome of the election.

NLC President, Joseph Ajaero, who addressed newsmen at the Central Working Committee (CWC) of the congress in Abuja yesterday, expressed worry that workers and Nigerians as a whole are passing through unprecedented hardship as a result of the unfriendly policy, saying the congress can no longer bear the situation.

He said the congress, will by Wednesday next week, direct all workers to begin sit-at-home strike, beginning from Thursday next week, if government fails to reverse decision on cash and fuel.

“The Congress wish to inform the federal government that we will no longer keep quiet to this issue of perennial fuel scarcity and arbitrary increase of petroleum products prices.

“The issue of cash crunch, the NLC is giving the federal government of Nigeria, the agencies of government including the Central Bank of Nigeria, and top banking institutions, seven working days to address the issue of the cash crunch.

“If they fail to do this at the expiration of the seven days, the Congress is directing all workers in the country to stay at home because it has become very difficult to even access one naira to enter vehicles to your workplace.

“It is even difficult to buy products, especially from traders who don’t have bank accounts. This is the situation we have found ourselves.

“The federal government came out with the policy that even the old currency are still valid. What we have discovered is that even when the banks give you those old currencies, the traders are not accepting it. And even when you take it to the same banks, the banks are not accepting it either.

“We are being frustrated to a level that we can no longer keep quiet.

“In terms of the political situation in the country. We are urging all gladiators to remember that the interest of this country is paramount to all of us and they should do everything reasonably possible to make sure that the system is maintained.

“The courts are there where they will take their matters to and we urge the courts to do justice to the issues brought to them”, the congress president said.

Meanwhile, the Enugu Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (ECCIMA) on Wednesday assured exhibitors that the current cash crunch would not affect its 2023 Trade Fair.

The 34th Enugu International Trade Fair organized by the chamber begins on March 24 and ends on April 3.

Vice-President of ECCIMA, Mr. Nonye Osakwe, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Enugu that the scarcity of naira notes would not be a hindrance to the fair.

He noted that Nigerians were already getting used to CBN’s cashless policy which resulted in the cash crunch by using Point of Sale (POS) machines of bank mobile app to seal transactions.

“Many exhibitors at the fair will certainly come with their POS machines for patrons to use or collect their charges through bank transfers.

“In addition, there will also be POS operators to aid transactions,’’ he said.

Osakwe also told NAN that there was no need to postpone the fair because of the 2023 elections, stressing that business was different from politics.

According to him, the environment is calm and safe as there is no riot or insecurity in Enugu State as a result of the election.

He urged Nigerians to actively participate in the fair, as it would offer them the opportunity to interface with manufacturers and with producers.

“It will be a platform where everyone will benefit. Many exhibitors and companied have indicated interest in the fear and the chamber is very ready for a successful outing.

“Tanzania, Ghana, Senegal, China, Botswana, Pakistan and a good number of government agencies such as CBN will participate in the fair.

“Dangote and Nigeria Breweries, our major sponsors will also participate and we hope that the 2023 fair will be the biggest fair we have held so far,’’ Osakwe said

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