Month: January 2012
After a week-long of strikes, rallies, street protests and weekend’s failed talks with labour, President Goodluck Jonathan, in a nationwide broadcast this morning, announced new pump price for petrol, saying the product will now sell at N97 per litre.
The new price is N44 less than the N141 announced by the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, on January 1st; and N32 higher than the former price of N65, demanded by labour and the civil society for the strike to be called off.
According to the President, PPPRA has been directed to ensure compliance with the new pump price.
Jonathan, however, said that his government is working hard to reduce recurrent expenditure in line with current realities and to cut down on the cost of governance.
He also said the Federal Government has started the implementation of the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment projects which inludes the government – assisted mass transit programme and job creation for the youth.”
Jonathan, in the broadcast, vowed to tackle corruption in the petroleum industry , as well as, other sectors of the economy, saying, ” all those found to have contributed one way or the other to the economic adversity of the country will be dealt with in accordance with the law.” His words: ” Government will continue to pursue full deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector. However, given the hardships being suffered by Nigerians, and after due consideration and consultations with state governors and the leadership of the National Assembly, government has approved the reduction of the pump price of petrol to N97 per litre. The Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) has been directed to ensure compliance with this new pump price. ”
” Government is working hard to reduce recurrent expenditure in line with current realities and to cut down on the cost of governance. In the meantime, government has commenced the implementation of the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment projects: including the Federal Government- assisted mass transit programme which is already in place, and job creation for the youth.”
“Furthermore, the legal and regulatory regime for the petroleum industry will be reviewed to address accountability issues and current lapses in the Industry. In this regard, the Petroleum Industry Bill will be given accelerated attention. The report of the forensic audit carried out on the NNPC is being studied with a view to implementing the recommendations and sanctioning proven acts of corruption in the industry.”
Emmanuel Uduaghan has assured the Hausa/Fulani communities in the state of adequate protection of their lives and property by the state government and charged them to raise alarm on sighting strange elements among them posing as threat to the state.
He urged them to advise the cattle rearers among them not to carry dangerous weapons.
Addressing Hausa/Fulani communities in Asaba, yesterday, the governor urged them to stop panicking as adequate security arrangement to protect all northerners in the state had been put in place.
The governor said: “I want to assure you of adequate protection and security of your lives and property. You have been here for so long and you do not have any other place. Live peacefully with your neigbours and advise cattle rearers among you not to look for trouble and should not be carrying dangerous weapons.”
Governor Uduaghan told them that the State Commissioner of Police, the Director of State Security Service, SSS and Army Commander were on top of the security challenges and would not allow anyone in the state to be harmed.
He enjoined them to report any problem to the traditional ruler in their neigbourhood as well as identify strange and unscrupulous visitors, who could constitute threat to the state.
A possible end to the ongoing nationwide strike action was in the offing last night after the Federal Government agreed to temporarily revert to the pre-New Year price of N65 per litre of petrol.
At a marathon meeting attended by President Goodluck Jonathan, organised labour, the leadership of the Senate and the representatives of state governors, labour was given two options for the reinstatement of the N65 per litre price of petrol. The first option is to revert to the pre-New Year price on the condition that the subsidy regime would be completely removed in April.
The second option is to allow the N65 selling price of petrol and withdraw 80% of the subsidy in March, meaning that petrol would sell for N120 if the current price regime remains in force.
No agreement yet — Labour
At the end of the meeting last night, labour said although compromise was being made, It has not reached an agreement and that strike continues today. All the parties would however meet again on Saturday when labour is expected to make up its mind on the options put before it.
Yesterday’s meeting was at the instance of the leadership of the Senate which had earlier held two meetings with organised labour and another with the Federal Government. Among those present at the meeting which commenced at 6.30 pm last night were Senate President David Mark; his deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu and Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba.
The Senate President shuttled periodically yesterday between Aso Rock and his residence where he hosted labour officials as he sought to mediate the differences between both parties.
The Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF was represented by seven governors at last night meeting. Those in attendance were the Chairman of the NGF, Mr Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers); Mr Gabriel Suswan (Benue); Mr Babangida Aliyu (Niger); Mr Liyel Imoke (Cross River); Mr Adams Oshiomhole (Edo); Mr. Babatunde Fashola (Lagos) and Mr Peter Obi (Anambra).
The Labour delegation included the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Mr Abdulwaheed Omar and the President of Trade Union Congress, TUC, Mr Peter Esele, while Mr Tunde Aremu of ActionAid, represented Civil Society Organisations, CSOs.
They arrived the venue at exactly 6:30 pm, about two hours after the trio of President Jonathan, representing the Executive arm, the Senate leadership, and the governors forum had been meeting.
Labour sustains protests
Meanwhile, as the series of meetings were being held by representatives of government and labour, the labour movement and its civil society allies sustained their mass protests across the states of the federation and Abuja yesterday to mark the fourth day of the strike which has grounded commercial and social activities.
The protest which also recorded unprecedented turn-out at the Federal Capital Territory, kicked off from the Berger Roundabout at about 10:45am from where the procession marched through Wuse Market, Zone 3 and 7 before it terminated at Area One junction.
It was characterized by the usual fanfare that greeted the protest since it commenced, with protesters dancing to the tunes from some musicians.
Peter Esele, TUC President exploited the opportunity of the fourth day rally to dismiss Federal Government’s accusation that labour was threatening the peace of the country.
He said labour and the coalition of civil society groups 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 masses.
He also dismissed allegations that politicians were wrongly exploiting the rallies to their advantage, saying they would effectively use the peaceful rallies to achieve their demands.
His words: “They say we are creating problems for this country, let us make one thing clear here, we have nothing against the presidency. All we are fighting against is the deregulation policy”.
Economic activities in Abuja were low, with transporters conveying passengers to some locations in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), most of the banks remained closed for business, while most of the ministries’ staff were yet to comply with the directive to resume work.
WARRI – Niger Delta Indigenous Movement For Radical Change, NDIMRC, yesterday issued a 21-day ultimatum to Northerners to quit the oil-rich region.
According to a statement by its President, Nelly Emma, Secretary, John Sailor and Public Relations Officer, Mukoro Stanley, the group described as senseless the killings of Christians in the North by Boko Haram and ordered all Northerners in the South, West and East of the country to return home within 21 days or face reprisal attacks.
The group said: ‘’We want to make it known to the Sultan of Sokoto and other Northern leaders that we are aware of their game plan to frustrate President Jonathan. The President is a nice man; if not a lot of people would have been killed by now as the late President Musa Yar’Adua did in the Niger Delta region by killing innocent people of Gbaramatu Kingdom of Delta State.”
ABUJA—The Senate, yesterday, joined the House of Representatives in asking President Goodluck Jonathan to revert fuel pump price to N65 per litre. In a closed door session, the senators urged the Senate President, Senator David Mark to convey the message of the upper chamber to President Jonathan within 24 hours.
This came as the nationwide protest called by the organised labour against the removal of subsidy on petrol which commenced on Monday was hijacked on its second day by hoodlums in Ogun, Kaduna, Oyo and Edo states even as the Nigeria Labour Congress vowed that the protests will continue indefinitely until the Federal Government reverts the pump price of petrol to N65.
The Federal Government also yesterday declared that it was still ready for dialogue with organised labour, saying that “the option of dialogue is still open”, as it cautioned the security agencies against the use of force against protesters.
In Abeokuta, miscreants yesterday hijacked the protest rally held in Abeokuta, Ogun state capital against the removal of fuel subsidy and allegedly molested and extorted money from people in the state capital.
A Protester at Agidingbi Road Ikeja, Lagos. Photo: Joe Akintola, Photo Editor.
The Police commissioner in the state, Nicholas Nkedeme was not spared by the hoodlums who barricaded various places within the metropolis when his cars were stopped, while some policemen escaped being lynched by the angry mob. The lucky policemen were said to had been stopped by some protesters along Abiola way and attempted to descend on them before the Area commander identified as Oyekunle Adegboyega pleaded with them before the mob allowed them to go. The Police Public Relations Officer, Muyiwa Adejobi while commenting on the activities of the miscreants, during a radio programme,said, ‘even the police commissioner was stopped , but until we pleaded with them before we were allowed to pass” .
“So the agitators should be reasonable and objective in their protests. Those who are violent, I think the law will take its course on them. “Obstruction of traffic like that is out of the context.” In a similar development, there was a heavy bonfire few metres away from the former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s corporate office in Abeokuta, Ogun state capital. The Office located along Quarry Road, Ibara and tagged Agbeloba House is the headquarters of the Obasanjo Farms Holding (OBH) Limited. Youths made bonfires with used tyres and some woods to make the busy road, about 200 metres and which is also about 1000 metres from the family house of the Ogun state governor, Sen. Ibikunle Amosun impassable.
Curfew imposed in Oyo, Kaduna
It was a similar story in Kaduna as miscreants attempted to hijack the peaceful protests and clashed with the security forces which led to the killing of a 23-year-old Abdulgafar Mohammed Hadis.
An eye witness told newsmen that Hadis was shot on the head at Enugu Road, Old Panteka as youths went on rampage to condemn the increase in petrol price.
According to him, the deceased was rushed to Biba Hospital, Tudun Wada, from where he was later referred to 44 Army Reference Hospital, where he was confirmed dead.
“While the soldiers were asking the protesters to calm down, near the Government House, the policemen came and started firing tear gas cannisters at them. Shortly after this, they started shooting at us with live bullets. One of their bullets hit the young Hadis on his head. The boys wanted to get to Government House and protest”.
There was tension in the state in the evening as Air Force and police helicopters hovered all over the metropolis following false rumours that Muslim youths were attacking Christians in some parts of the town.
Former Military Administrator of Kaduna State, Colonel Hameed Ali (rtd) coordinated the protest. At the Waff Road, hundreds of youths however threw stones at police patrol vans and motorcycles, destroying their head lamps in some cases just as the police responded by throwing cannisters of tear gas at them just as some of them shot into the air to disperse them.
The demonstrators were occasionally supplied with bread and sachet water which were brought to them in Jeeps without number plates.
The same situation was reported within a radius of 500m from the Sir Ibrahim Kashim Government House, Kaduna before they were ordered to return to the Luggard Hall Round About which is the only place earmarked for the protests.
A statement issued by Kaduna State Commissioner of Police, Bala M. Nasarawa said
“We have realised that the strike over the removal of subsidy has been hijacked by persons other than those committed to the cause. The demonstration which began yesterday peacefully, today turned violent. People were harassed, intimidated, and installations vandalised. In view of this unfortunate situations, the Kaduna state security council has no choice than to impose a 24 hour curfew in Kaduna metropolis and its environs wit effect from 9pm today (Tuesday) 10th January 2012. This measure becomes imperative in order to safeguard lives and property of innocent citizens. Government is urging all citizens of the state to remain calm, lawful and stay at home until further notice.
…Also in Oyo
Also in Oyo State, the state government resolved to impose curfew when the protests were getting out of hand. The curfew which was declared yesterday was imposed on the state from 7pm to 7am.
The Secretary to the State government, Alhaji Akin Olajide in a statement said the curfew was with immediate effect. According to the statement, the curfew became necessary to protect the security and lives of the people of the state.
The government noted that some hoodlums and miscreants, under the sponsorship of some politicians, had been hiding under the present anti-fuel subsidy removal protest to threaten the security of the state, especially at night.
On the first day of the strike, some of the government property in Ibadan North West Local Government were destroyed by some miscreants who mixed with protesters.
To checkmate destruction of property and protect lives, the government explained it had to declare the curfew.
It noted further that government had instructed security agencies in the state to apprehend and prosecute anyone who contravened the curfew.
“While the government appreciates the rights of the citizens to protest, the protection of lives and property of citizens is imperative,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, some protesters numbering about 2,500 yesterday forced a popular radio broadcaster in Oyo state, Kola Adegoke to join them in the protest.
Kola Ladoke who broadcasts for Splash FM, was held hostage at Olomi area of the city.
He said, “Some of them said that if they delay me and prevented me from being heard on my radio programme, it will go a long way to tell the government how embittered they are to the oil subsidy removed from petroleum products.
The protests in Ibadan were more serious than the first day of the strike.
Unlike the Monday when some commuters could still meander and take alternative road, all roads including the local ones were barricaded yesterday.
At Eleyele, a water tanker of the Nigerian Army was delayed for some irate youth who were playing football on the major road.
The driver of the truck had to plead with them before they allowed him to pass.
Most of the roads were deserted and blocked by the youth. Some commercial motorcyclists popularly called okada riders were turned back.
Police go tough in Edo
Also the Edo State Police Command has directed all police officers of the command to deal decisively with any body found to be blocking the roads, making bonfires and attacking innocent and law abiding citizens of the state.
In a statement personally signed by the state commissioner of police, David Omojola, he said the directive was to give full effect to the stay at home directive issued by the state councils Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), adding that it was to check further deterioration of the security situation in the state.
He warned parents and guardians not to allow their children or wards to be used to foment trouble, as any caught in the act will be treated as a common criminal and dealt with appropriately.
The statement regretted that Monday protest in the state witnessed violence, looting, arson and attacks on persons, which were not in consonance with the Labour movement.
Protests to continue indefinitely —Omar
The President of the Nigerian Labour Congress, Comrade Abudulwaheed Omar yesterday declared the protest would be sustained and continue until the federal government reversed the pump price of petrol to N65 per litre.
He spoke at a rally held at the AP Plaza/Chicken House Junction along Adetokumbo Ademola Crescent, Wuse II of the federal capital.
The decision to halt the procession at that point did not go down well with many of the protesters, especially the youths among them as they insisted that they must march on the Eagle Square.
Omar’s address was interrupted several times by youths chanting “Eagle Square”, while others chanted that they must march straight on Aso Rock Villa and chase away President Goodkuck Jonathan from office.
“We have superiors as I heard you asking us to proceed to the Eagle Square, we must make sure we follow instructions and procedures, you have fulfilled your own part by bringing more people today.
“We will continue to come out everyday until government reverts this obnoxious price back to N65 per litre. They have been calling us to call off this strike but we will do that under only one condition, which is to revert to N65. This strike has recorded a huge success as international radi stations have been broadcasting to the world”, Omar said.
The President General of the TUC, Com Peter Esele also tried hard to dissuade the protesters from marching on Eagle Square.
His words: “Let me ask you a question, our marching out to Eagle Square will it make any difference?
“Another question, did anybody contribute money for this rally? Did we give any of you money to come here? We are here because of the increase in N65 per litre of fuel.. This is the only thing in Nigeria that two presidents are presiding over two protests.
“As we protest, it is our responsibility to ensure that no life is lost and if we even march to President Jonathan, it will not make any difference. Yesterday we counted over 20,000 protesters but today [Tuesday], we have recorded over 40,000 protesters and by tomorrow you will bring 100,000 protesters do you promise? “Yes, protesters chorused”. You are our source of inspiration and we are drawing strength from you”.
The protesters who started out at the popular Berger Junction sailed through Herbert Macauley Way, Kashim Ibrahim Way, Aminu Kano Crescent to Ibrahim Babangida Way to arrive at the rally venue which was the same point where NLC and other labour leaders addressed the protesters on the first day.
Numbering several thousands, the protesters generally conducted themselves peacefully. They were escorted by 12 civilian Power Bike Outriders, heavily armed security officers in mufti and four pick-up vans fully loaded with stern-looking soldiers.
FG cautions security agencies against use of force
Federal Government yesterday warned security agencies in the country to be professional and exercise utmost restraint on the on-going protests
The Minister of Youth Development and Acting Minister of Sports, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi observed that the excessive use of force by some security agents which has led to the death of few young Nigerians and caused injuries to some others is very unfortunate and regrettable.
In a statement signed in Abuja by the Special Assistant to the minister on media, Julius Ogunro, the minister noted that the right to protest is fundamental in a democracy therefore the Police and other security agents have a responsibility to protect this right.
Oil workers threaten to shut upstream production
The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, yesterday threatened to shut down the upstream sector of the oil industry should President Jonathan continue to pay deaf ears to the cries of Nigerians.
This came as Labour accused the Presidency of importing former militants and other armed thugs from neighbouring states into Abuja under the banner of “PDP Transformation Movement”, attack and main anti-subsidy removal protesters, declaring that labour had concluded plans to report President Jonathan and Inspector General of Police, IGP, Affiz Ringim to the International Criminal Court, ICC, for the Monday killing of armeless protesters in the country.
Labour and Civil Society Coalition, LASCO, umbrella body for Labour and its civil society allies that is coordinating the strike and mass protest, warned that from today, the ongoing strike and mass action would take a new dimension if government refused to address Nigerians’ demand.
Fuel subsidy strike: Dialogue window still open—FG
THE Federal Government yesterday declared that it is still ready for a dialogue with organised labour over industrial face-off following the removal of fuel subsidy by the government, saying that “the option of dialogue is still open”.
Minister of Labour and Productivity, Mr Emeka Wogu, who spoke to State House correspondents after a meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan, in Aso Rock, said “I think each side is exploring the need to talk”.
He said: “When I said that the option of dialogue is till open, it implied that we are exploring that option and labour is equally that option. I don’t believe in putting one as a senior partner and the other as a junior partner. In this issue, there are three senior partners within the doctrine and principle of tripartism; the NLC/TUC on one side representing the trade union, government on one side because it could be government at the federal level or state. Then the employers consultative association, NECA”
By Dr. Lawson
ABUJA—AS part of moves to halt the activities of Boko Haram sect, the Nigerian Army have concluded arrangements to intensify training in counter-terrorist and counter-insurgency operations.
Addressing journalists, yesterday, on the current security situation in the country, Director, Army Public Relations, Major-General Ralph Isa, disclosed that troops were now patrolling major highways and towns complimenting the efforts of already existing task forces.
According to him, Nigerian Army troops on Operation Restore Order III recently raided a suspected terrorists’ hideout in Pompomari area of Damaturu in Yobe State where it discovered an ammunition dump and a number of AK-47 rifles and Improvised Explosive Devices, IEDs, adding that troops have continued to dominate the area with joint patrols.
The Army spokesman, who noted that major challenges posed by the sect have been reported mainly in Borno and Yobe states, stressed that their primary targets have been mainly isolated offices of security agencies, a few Army patrol vehicles and some places of worship.
Isah also disclosed that following information from arrested members of Boko Haram sect, Operation Restore Order I in Maiduguri conducted series of cordon and search operations in conjunction with other security agencies leading to the discovery of about 40 small arms and subsequent arrest of suspected members of sect.
Speaking further, the Spokesman said that in Yobe, some members of the sect were making IEDs which unfortunately exploded in the process and thereafter attracted troops that did not hesitate to move to the scene and recovered 32 assorted arms and 339 ammunition of different calibers, among other items.
He added that those arrested were cooperating and making useful statements that will provide the basis for future operations.
On the ultimatums and panic movements across the country, General Isa explained that the Army and other security agencies in the country were fully aware of those text messages emanating from some groups threatening people of non-eastern and South-South origin to quit some geo-political zones in the country.