On Tuesday, the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) issued a seven-day ultimatum to the federal government, urging them to find a lasting solution to the current severe economic hardship in Nigeria, which has been caused by the scarcity of new naira notes and fuel. In addition, TUC instructed its state executives and members throughout the country to remain vigilant for any further instructions on what action to take.
A press release issued by Comrade (Engr) Festus Osifo, the President, and Comrade Nuhu Toro, the Secretary General, of the TUC, expressed their concern about the difficulties that the new government policy on the naira notes has caused for the people of Nigeria. They urged the government to find a solution to this problem as soon as possible, as it has already caused a great deal of hardship for Nigerians. The TUC members, like the rest of the population, are troubled by the current crises of currency and fuel shortages, which have never been experienced before in the country’s history. The statement further noted that Nigerians are experiencing pain, sorrow, and anger, which may eventually lead to public protests in some states.
Nigerians have never experienced the distressing situation of being unable to withdraw their own money from the banks, which can result in businesses shutting down and difficulty paying for basic needs such as food, transportation, and medical bills. It is also discouraging and unjust that people are forced to either purchase Nigerian currency or pay a substantial fee just to access their own funds. This behavior is unacceptable in a country that upholds the law and has numerous government and security services available to address such crimes and punish those responsible.
Congress is not interested in the ongoing blame game and empty promises made by the Federal Government to address the situation. Instead, they are concerned about the lack of availability of smaller denominations such as N100 and N50 notes, which were not affected by the recent Naira redesign but are strangely not in circulation. The President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, must give clear instructions to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and commercial banks to make these legal tender notes available to the public without any conditions or further delays. The priority is to restore normalcy so that Nigerians, who are already struggling with high inflation rates, can access their hard-earned money.
The lengthy explanations for long queues at petrol stations and high petrol prices, which are much higher than the official price, are no longer acceptable. All that is demanded is for petrol to be available at petrol stations across the country at the official price.
There is a warning that the government needs to take action now before the situation worsens and people take matters into their own hands. The hope is that politicians will listen to this advice.
However, the congress is not willing to wait indefinitely for the government to act. Therefore, they demand that the Federal Government provides a solution to the problems of currency unavailability and fuel shortages within seven days, starting from Tuesday 7th February 2023.
The TUC leadership will closely monitor the situation and give further instructions if necessary. All state council executives should be ready for action.
Nigeria belongs to the people, not to the government or those in power. Therefore, if necessary, we should be willing to make sacrifices to save the country.