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FIWON decries govt’s insensitivity to plight of citizens, supports Labour’s protests

President Bola Tinubu | File Image

.Seeks end to corruption, speedy repair of refinaries, others

‘Nobody knows how the trillions of naira shared to governors and the Humanitarian Affairs Ministry to assist the poor working people and the vulnerable had been spent’

By Valentine Amanze

The Federation of Informal Workers’ Organizations of Nigeria (FIWON) has called on the federal government to end hunger and hardship in the country, while supporting the mass protests by the Labour and Civil Society Organizations, which will begin soon.

It also lamented that the worst hit by the federal government’s anti-people policies were the 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.

In a statement issued by Frances Bamidele Onokpe, president; and                                                                             Gbenga Komolafe, the general secretary, in Lagos at the weekend, FIWON condemned the rising corruption in the government.

It wondered why palliatives meant for ths poor during the COVID-19 period were diverted to politicians’ homes, while condemning the cashless policy imposed on Nigerians in 2023, which it said, destroyed many small businesses and livelihoods.

Also read: Don’t be disheartened by challenges, Obi tells Nigerian workers

“Now, the policy of increasing the price of fuel by more than 300% 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, healthcare, 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.

“Nobody knows how the trillions of naira shared to governors and the Humanitarian Affairs Ministry to assist the poor working people and the vulnerable had been spent. We only hear stories of how billions of naira had been stolen by public officials in charge of these funds,” the group lamented.

In the statement titled, “End Hunger, End Suffering Now!” FIWON also accused the President Bola Tinubu-led administration of having no plan to make local refineries work, preferring using available dollars to import fuel.

“This situation compounds the foreign exchange crisis resulting in the free fall in value of the naira,” it said.

FIWON therefore demanded from the government the following:

•  Government must repair all local refineries within the next six months.

•  Reversal of the fuel pump price to pre-29 May 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.

•  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.

•  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.

•  Provision of free and quality education as a right. Education should not be a commodity to make money.

•  Universal access to quality public health services: The health insurance schemes is not working in the informal sector because of irregular incomes to pay.

•  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% while super rich people should be made to pay more tax to free resources to take care of social services.

•  Stop demolition of public spaces and work clusters where informal people work, without providing affordable alternatives.

valoa2000@yahoo.com

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