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STRIKE: COUNT US OUT -SOUTH-EAST TRADERS

By NBF News
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Chairman of the South-east Governor's Forum, Mr. Peter Obi and the South-east Amalgamated Traders Association (SEAMATA) have dissociated themselves from today's nationwide strike, being embarked by organized Labour .

The market leaders, who visited Mr. Peter Obi in Awka yesterday, said the entire South-east would not participate in the planned strike, and equally expressed support to President Goodluck Jonathan on the removal of fuel subsidy.

Governor Obi said the support for the removal of oil subsidy was predicated on the fact that funds saved from the exercise would be used to improve the economy of the country, especially in the areas of infrastructure, power, education and job creation He urged the Federal Government to ensure that the funds were strictly applied in the specified areas.

While commending the Federal Government for efforts made so far, he called for more decisive measures to ensure security of lives and property in various parts of the country, especially the troubled parts. In an eight-point communiqué issued after their meeting at the governor's lodge and signed by the President, Chief Okwudili Ezenwankwo and Secretary, Mr. Temple Udeh, the traders said the decision taken by the government was in the overall interest of the country.

The traders further stated that the monumental corruption that has characterized the petroleum industry over the years as a result of the distortions created by the subsidy had only enriched individuals. The communiqué read in part: 'We note that there will be initial hardship that will be experienced by the people of Nigeria, but we accept that this will be compensated for by the palliative measures planned by the government to cushion the effects. Our support is premised on the promise that the savings from the subsidy will be channelled to massive infrastructural development and job creation.

'We therefore urge Mr. President that the promises made to the Nigerian people are kept in addition to reducing the cost of governance, as a demonstration of his commitment to the sacrifices made. Based on the foregoing, SEAMATA and traders of the South-east origin, wish to disassociate ourselves from the planned nationwide strike, as we believed that the strike will not be in the best interest of the common man,' it said.

The traders, however, called on the organized labour, civil society organizations and other stakeholders to give government a chance and go into negotiations for lasting solutions, urging them to begin talks with Justice Alfa Belgore-led negotiation team.