Senator Shehu Sani of Kaduna Central District has berated the federal government for attempting to prevent the leaders of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) from protesting the recent increase in petrol price.
In a statement issued on Wednesday , Mr. Sani said as the umbrella body responsible for the welfare of Nigerian workers, NLC has the right to protest or to opt for dialogue or not.
Sani said Nigerians must appreciate the NLC for standing by the masses over the years and for making contributions to the realization of political change in Nigeria.
The statement read, “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 joined and applauded the NLC for leading a mass protest against increase in pump prices of petroleum products in the past.
“It’s hypocritical to condemn them now for their principled stand on same issue. 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 lawmaker said.
“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.
“It’s imperative for our people to understand that the political class define and view social justice in the colours 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.
“Increase in pump price of petroleum products does nothing other than add to the suffering of Nigerians but those in support of it have the constitutional rights to revere their chains.
“Unjust policies must not be beclouded by political interests and political convenience,” he added.
He called on the Labour movement to continue to dialogue, but unambiguously condemn all acts of treacherous intimidation against the leaders of Nigerian workers.