The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has rejected the Federal Government’s plans to increase the pump price of petrol calling for consideration of options to help the country achieve developmental governance and accountable leadership.
This is as the labour union has questioned the federal government’s bait to pay N5,000 to 40 million Nigerians as palliatives to cushion the effect of the astronomical petrol price increase, describing it as comical.
This was made known by the NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, in a press statement titled, ‘Nigerian workers refused to take the bait’, he issued in Abuja
According to NAN, Ayuba said that the total amount involved which he referred to as “queer initiative“ was far more than the money government claimed to spend currently on fuel subsidy.
The NLC President in his statement said, “The NNPC GMD said that the price increase would be consequent on the plans by the Federal Government to remove subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit, also commonly referred to as petrol or fuel.
“The grand optimism of the NNPC GMD was predicated on the claims that the removal of fuel subsidy is now backed by an act of parliament probably the Petroleum Industry Act which was recently signed into law.’’
Wabba noted that the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, re-echoed the same on Tuesday at the launch of the World Bank’s Nigeria Development Update (NDU).
He added that the minister announced government’s plans to disburse N5000 to 40 million poorest Nigerians each as transport grants to cushion the effect of the planned removal of the fuel subsidy.
The NLC President pointed out that the views of the GMD of NNPC correspond with the positions of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which asked the Federal Government to remove fuel subsidy.
He said, “The response of the NLC is that what we are hearing is the conversation of the Federal government with neo-liberal international monetary institutions.
“The conversation between the government and the people of Nigeria, especially workers under the auspices of the trade union movement on the matter of fuel subsidy was adjourned sine die so many months ago.
“Given the nationwide panic that has trailed the disclosure of the monologue within the corridors of government and foreign interests, the NLC wishes to maintain its rejection of deregulation based on import-driven model.
“We wish to reiterate our persuasion that the only benefit of deregulation based on import driven model is that Nigerian consumers will infinitely continue to pay high prices for refined petroleum products.
“This situation will definitely be compounded by the astronomical devaluation of the naira which currently goes for N560 to one US dollar in the parallel market.’’
The NLC president dismissed attempts to compare the price of petrol in Nigeria to other countries, which he said would be set on a faulty premise as it would be akin to comparing apples and mangoes.
The federal government had announced plans to stop payment of petrol subsidy by June 20222, which will ultimately lead to increase in the pump price of the product.
The government which is currently in negotiation with the organized labour on palliatives for Nigerian workers as a result of the increase, said that the full deregulation of the downstream oil sector is part of the measures in the newly signed Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) to attract more investments in the sector.
The Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mele Kyari, assured a few days ago that fuel subsidy removal would definitely be achieved in 2022 as it was now fully backed by law, adding that the price of the product may range between N320 and N340 per litre.
The increase in the price of petrol by over 200% is a perfect recipe for an aggravated pile of hyper-inflation and astronomical increase in the price of goods and services with more hardship to Nigerians and open a wide door to social consequences such as degeneration of the current insecurity crises.