Chairman of the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, Senator Shehu Sani, on Wednesday, alleged that the Federal Government was orchestrating undeserved campaign of calumny against the Nigeria Labour Congress because the body was speaking out the minds of poor Nigerians.
The All Progressives Congress Senator from Kaduna Central, therefore asked the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to stop its current intimidation of the workers body.
Sani in a statement issued late Wednesday evening in Abuja said, ” The intimidation against the NLC must stop. The systemic and orchestrated Campaign of calumny against the Nigeria Labour congress must stop.
“The NLC is the umbrella body formally recognised to protect and defend the interests of the Nigerian workers and must be respected as such. 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 must appreciate the NLC for standing by the masses of our people over the years and their mass contribution to the realisation of political change in Nigeria.”
The rights activist added that the NLC has the right to either protest or to opt for dialogue.
He commended the NLC for leading a mass protest against increase in pump prices of petroleum products in the past stressing that it would be hypocritical at this time to condemn them for their principled stand on same issue.
He said, “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. 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. Those in support of the Government increase in price of petroleum products have no right greater than those opposed to it.
“Detaching the masses from the Labour movement through orchestrated campaign by some is defanging the power of the masses. It’s imperative for our people to understand that the political class define and view social justice in the colors 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.”
He argued that the increase in pump price of petroleum products does nothing other than add to the suffering of Nigerians.
He, however, said that those in support of it have the constitutional rights to revere their chains.
He said, “Unjust policies must not be beclouded by political interests and political convenience.
“I called on the Labour movement to continue to dialogue while I unambiguously condemn all acts of treacherous intimidation against the leaders of Nigerian workers.”