FIWON To Join Protests Against President Tinubu’s Government Over Economic Hardship

... Demands Higher Tax For The Wealthy, Lower Cost Of Governance, Fund Social Welfare, Others

By Edu Abade

The Federation of Informal Workers’ Organisations of Nigeria (FIWON) has pledged its readiness to join Labour Union and Civil Society Organizations to protest against the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led administration.

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The protest, which is scheduled to hold during the week, is as result of the current economic hardship ravaging the country.

National President, Frances Bamidele Onokpe disclosed this in a statement personally signed by her and made available to journalists in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, at the weekend.

In the statement titled: End Hunger, End Suffering Now! she said (FIWON) has declared its support for mass protests by organised labour and civil society groups across the country.

“Workers in the informal sector; traders, artisans, technicians, small business owners, women working from home and on the streets, waste workers and young people who have no jobs after graduating from school have been the worst victims of the policies of government particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

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“The lockdowns resulted in terrible hunger, suffering and deaths, while palliatives were diverted to politicians’ homes; the cashless policy imposed on Nigerians in 2023 also destroyed many small businesses and livelihoods.

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“Now, the policy of increasing the price of fuel by more than 300 percent combined with the policy of floating the naira exchange value against foreign currencies resulting in gross devaluation of the naira has also resulted in food famine, while cost of other essentials like transportation, health care, drugs, building materials have more than trebled in less than one year. Public and private schools have increased fees steeply while drugs are becoming unaffordable for the sick,” she said.

The statement also reads: “Nobody knows how the trillions of naira shared to governors and the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management to assist poor working people and vulnerable Nigerians have been spent. We only hear stories of how public officials who were in charge of public funds stole billions of naira! Meanwhile, the government has no plan to make the local refineries work, while available dollars are used to import fuel.

“This situation compounds the foreign exchange crisis resulting in the free fall in value of the naira! Government should repair all local refineries within the next 6 months, Reversal of the fuel pump price to pre-29 May, 2023 prices. Stop and reverse the free fall of the naira with immediate effect: the free market floating of the naira has benefited only a few rich people with dollars while making goods and services more expensive for poor people.”

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Speaking further, Onokpe said:  “Government should halt the restriction of movement of food items from the North to the South: It worsens food scarcity in the South and makes it impossible for farmers in the North to sell their produce and gain revenue to buy other essentials apart from food.

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“Nothing for us without us: Social safety nets targeting workers in the informal economy must be disbursed through organisations of the working people themselves to avoid a few government officials stealing palliative measures designed to help the working poor and vulnerable Nigerians.”

She argued that provision of free and quality education is a basic and fundamental human right and as such, education should not be a commodity to make money, lamenting that the health insurance schemes under the country’s universal access to quality public health services, is not working in the informal sector because of irregular incomes to pay into the scheme.

“Government should tax the rich and reduce the large amounts paid to public officers. To stop hunger and fund social services, government officials’ current pay should be reduced by 50 percent, while super rich people should be made to pay more taxes to free up more resources to take care of social services.

“Government should also stop the demolition of public spaces and work clusters where informal people work, without providing affordable alternatives,” the statement added.

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Joshua Okoria

Joshua Okoria is a Lagos based multi-skilled journalist covering the maritime industry. His ICT and graphic design skills makes him a resourceful person in any modern newsroom. He read mass communication at the Olabisi Onabanjo University and has sharpened his knowledge in media practice from several other short courses. 07030562600,

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