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NLC, TUC, OTHERS SUSTAIN ABUJA STRIKE

By NBF News

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC), and civil society groups sustained their mass protest in Abuja yesterday, as the general strike called by labour enters the fourth day.

Although government has initiated talks with organized labour when the chairman, Federal Government Negotiating Committee led by retired Justice Alfa Belgore met on Wednesday, Labour insisted that it would go ahead with the indefinite strike until government reverted to the old pump price of N65 per litre of petrol.

The Abuja protest which as usual, took off from Berger Junction, recorded an unprecedented turnout, as protesters reported to the venue as early as 6:00am, while the procession began at about 10:45am. Yesterday saw the protesters march through Wuse market, Zone 3 and 7 terminating at Area One Junction, which has been named Freedom Square.

What would have been a major faceoff between security agencies and the protesters was promptly averted by members of the Nigerian Labour Congress after a team of policemen assigned to maintain law and order, tried to arrest some protesters alleged to have set up bonfire using tyres at the Berger Junction. Some protesters set up the bonfire, according to the police as early as 4:00am in the morning.

The police said some of the protesters passed the night at the Berger Junction.

The procession as usual was characterized by the usual fanfare that greeted the protest since it commenced, with protesters among them pregnant women danced to the satiric tunes from some Nigerian musicians. Some of the women who came with their babies tied to the backs, told Daily Sun that they came to support the labour movement in their struggle against the removal of fuel subsidy by government as the new fuel price was already having a negative effect on their households.

Earlier in his address to the protesters, president of the Trade Union Congress, TUC, Peter Esele, congratulated the rioters for turning out in their large number as the porters enters its fourth day, despite the insinuation by government that protesters would get tired after three days. He also dismissed allegations by government that labour was threatening the peace of the country.

He said labour and the coalition of civil societies involved in the protest had nothing against the authority of President Goodluck Jonathan, but that they fault the deregulation policy which in their evaluation does not go down well with the Nigerian people.