Nigerians Begins Panic Buying of Food Ahead of NLC Strike as FG Move to Avert it

According to Vanguard, In a desperate move to avert a nationwide strike by organised labour and its civil society allies over the N145 per litre new pump price of petrol, the Federal Government has invited labour leaders in the country for a meeting today.

House of Representatives will also, today, hold a special plenary and take a position on the recent increase in price of petrol. 

However, leaders of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, their counterparts in Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, and civil society allies had on Saturday, given government up till  midnight tomorrow to reverse the pump price to the pre-Wednesday, May 11 rate of N86.50 or face a nationwide strike and street protests. 

Vanguard gathered that the meeting will take place 10 am today at the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation. 

According to a source, the meeting will involve stakeholders, including leaders of NLC, TUC, Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, and their Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN counterpart. 

This came as NLC faction, led by Joe Ajaero, said it would today and tomorrow meet with civil society groups, market women, informal workers’ groups and other Nigerians to fine-tune strategies on how to shut critical sectors of the economy should government fail to meet its demands. 

He called on the Federal Government to reverse the N145 pump price hike and convoke a meeting of all relevant stakeholders before end of the Tuesday deadline to determine appropriate price of petrol or risk nationwide strike and mass action. 

Ajaero, contended that what the government had done was simply to hike price to get more money without considering its overall implications on the masses of the country who were already struggling to survive in the midst of high cost of living.
Meanwhile, According to The Punch, Nigerians have started stockpiling food ahead of the ultimatum issued by the Nigeria Labour Congress and the coalition of the civil society organisations that petrol price be reverted to N86.50 or all workers would embark on a strike.
On Saturday, the organised labour again repeated that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government had till Tuesday night to reverse the increase in the price of fuel from N145 to N86.50 or face a total shutdown of the country.
The three-day ultimatum was first announced on Friday.
Following this warning, a cross section of Nigerians in different parts of the country told SUNDAY PUNCH that they were getting prepared for the strike by buying enough food in their homes.
A businesswoman based in Osogbo, Osun State, Mrs. Mayowa Bamisaiye, said she was ready for the strike because she had expected it after the Federal Government announced the new fuel price.
She said, ‘‘I do not agree with the new increment and I expected the labour unions to resist it. I have bought some food and I will buy more that will be enough to cater for my family during the strike. I also intend to withdraw some money to cater for some domestic needs as the strike lasts.’’
Also, a human resources officer in a non-governmental organisation in Ibadan, Oyo State, Mr. Paul Sodeinde, said he was prepared for the strike.
Sodeinde stated, ‘‘I have enough fuel for my generator. There is food in the house and water. I am ready to endure the strike for as long as it lasts.’’
The story was the same as most of the people that spoke to our correspondents in Lagos said they had started making preparations for a long stay at home.
A customer service officer, Bolade Osagie,  said, “We expect the NLC to go through the whole hog like they did in 2012. In order to prepare for next week, I have started to get as much foodstuffs at home as possible. Even though I do not expect this strike to drag on before the Federal Government yields to the demands of the labour unions, I won’t be so unwise as not to get some food from the market. I will also try to get some more fuel for the generator too.”
A civil engineer, Shade Oguntuase, said she was going to do all her shopping on Sunday (today).
She said, “I’ll visit the market on Sunday to get some foodstuffs with the NLC threatening to shut down the country. I have kids at home to feed. I don’t think I want to be caught in a tight corner of not having enough food for the family, should the strike go on for days.”
Similarly, a lecturer in the Fine and Applied Arts Department, Federal College of Education (Technical), Akoka,  Lagos, Mr. Ebenezer Oje, said, “I am going to ensure I stock my home with enough food items and other necessary goods for my family and me for the duration of the strike. It is a necessary move because the fuel price increase is not needed at this time when there is no salary increase.”
An engineer, Mr. Oladele Tayo, also noted, “I don’t know what will happen when the strike commences; probably the prices of foodstuff will also go up. So buying more foodstuffs this weekend is crucial.”
A Lagos-based IT worker, Isaiah Adebisi, said he had not considered buying household items in bulk until he ran into a friend at a popular shopping mall in Lagos.
According to Adebisi, the encounter made him realise the reality of the impending strike when his friend told him that there would be scarcity of basic consumer products.
He said, “I had always felt that panic buying was a bad idea. I didn’t think much of the strike at first, especially because of my belief in this government. But seeing the way things are going, I am going to use this weekend to stock up on many items.
“Hopefully, the NLC will reconsider the strike before things get too bad. Until then, however, better safe than sorry.”
An advertising agency employee, who also lives in Lagos with two family members, Uju-Amaka Ofili, said she would take the initiative and restock her home with household items.
She said, “I can only imagine how bad things will get if I don’t act fast. I think it would be wise to buy as much foodstuffs in bulk as I can. To make matters worse, things are really expensive in the market.
“But the truth of the matter is that if I don’t buy what I need soon, I may not like the outcome. I am heading to the market immediately.”
Lately, there has been an increase in the prices of foodstuffs nationwide.
A businesswoman at Alade Market, Lagos, Mrs. Atinuke Joda, said she knew that labour was going to fight the new petrol price.
“Immediately the price of fuel was increased, I knew labour would resist.  After church on Sunday, I will buy enough foodstuffs,” she said.
In Kaduna, a nurse, Mrs. Grace Dikwa, said apart from foodstuff, she would ensure she doesn’t run out of cooking gas.  “I have to buy cooking gas this weekend. I will also buy enough foodstuffs like tomatoes and others on Sunday because I don’t know how long the strike will last.”
An Abuja-based businessman, Mr. Ayo Dimeji, said, “I always stock my kitchen with foodstuffs and other necessary household items one or two weeks ahead in case of an emergency, and the proposed NLC strike is an emergency. I don’t want to take chances.”
A civil servant in Port Harcourt, Mrs. Sandra Dumebi, said she was glad the NLC gave sufficient warning.
“I always do my shopping at weekends. Thankfully, the NLC has warned us ahead of time. So I will be buying more foodstuffs this time around,” she said.
Similarly, a school administrator in Magboro, Ogun State, Ms Evelyn Okorodudu, said, “I am moving fast on Sunday to get a few things to add to the ones I already have at home.
“How I wish the government would hear the voices of the masses and revert the price of fuel to what we had before. They should do whatever is in their capacity to make the product available. We are tired of this suffering.”


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