NLC mobilizes members over fuel price hike alert


The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday put its members on alert over a likely hike in pump price.

It has commenced mobilisation to shut down the economy, should the Federal Government proceed with its proposed increase of the Premium Motor Spirit from N162 to N340 by next year, 2022.

The Congress warned that Organised Labour would not fold its hands and watch the Federal Government push more Nigerians below the poverty line.

It said any attempt to increase the price of petrol would affect every Nigerian regardless of their status.

The Federal Government last month hinted at a possible fuel hike given the heavy burden of subsidy on the government.

Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer Mele Kyari said petrol will sell between N320 and N340 per litre from February.

He said Nigeria would be out of the subsidy regime in the first quarter of 2022, but that the Federal Government plans to give N5,000 each to 40 million citizens to cushion the effects.

NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, who spoke at the 17th NLC Harmattan School in Ilorin, Kwara State, insisted that contrary to some views by seasoned labour unionist Chief Frank Kokori, the Congress was out to empower its members to be better equipped in tackling unfavourable policies that would further impoverish Nigerians.

He said: “The concept of accepting deregulation hook line and sinker anchored on import-driven price model is not something that we can accept. We have said that without mincing words.

“If you are pushing through our throat to accept deregulation based on importation, basically there will be no end to a price increase.

“Saying that once you deregulate without having the capacity to refine for domestic use will bring down the price of PMS is not correct.

“When the price of crude oil was almost at a zero level, the price of two items that were deregulated never came down – diesel and kerosene. In fact, they kept going up.

“By the market fundamentals, marketers are out there to make maximum profit and usually they will collude and that is what will happen to Nigeria if we accept that policy hook, line and sinker.

“The implication is not also on the working class because whether we like it or not, the minimum wage gain has been eroded completely.

“The major issue under contention is: how do we stabilise the value of the naira? Once you do not stabilise the value of the naira, anything imported will affect the larger economy and the cost of goods and services.

“This is the reality, so we are calling for a revival of the refineries. Make them to work. Don’t export our jobs. Let us benefit substantially from what God has given us freely.”

Wabba indicated that Labour was open discussions.

He said: “You don’t have to make pronouncements before inviting labour to the negotiating table because it is like the deed is done. That is why we are also mobilising our people this time around.

“You are moving the price from N162 or N163 to N340 or N408 if we are to go by the recommendations of the governors forum.

“I don’t see how that can be pushed down the throat of Nigerians looking at the impact.”

Wabba faulted the government’s proposed N5,000 transport allowance to 40 million Nigerians.

“The impact of the policy of price hike under the name of deregulation will affect every Nigerian citizen either directly or indirectly. I don’t see the wisdom of saying only 40 million people.

“Remember when the Organised Labour submitted a list of the working poor of 50,000 persons on request to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs. As I speak to you, not a single person benefitted, yet it is being said that everybody benefitted.

“We don’t have empirical data even on the poor of the poorest and so, basically, it is going to go the same way those other policies have gone.

“That is why we said no, because there will be spiral inflation. We have seen that each time there is a slight increase in the pump price of PMS, because of its centrality to our economy, the impact is very humongous.”

Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, said the government was disposed to dialogue with the Organised Labour on the subsidy removal.

According to him, the government presently pays N200 billion monthly on petrol subsidies, which he said was not economically sustainable.

Keyamo said: “The issue of subsidy removal is an economic necessity or the political problem of all governments. It is that political problem we want to address now.

“NLC sees the economic problem and economic necessity but at the same time they have a mandate to ensure that workers welfare are well protected and taken care of.

“There will be a convergence somewhere but we are prepared to revive all the clashes we have with the labour unions to ensure that we make amicable resolutions.”

Kokori urged the labour leaders to look beyond minimum wage and pay more attention to fighting corruption and bad governance.

He said: “Why should Nigerian workers allow our refinery to die? What’s the meaning of subsidy? I am not happy with Organised Labour again. You have to fight corruption perpetrated through subsidy. Labour is suppose to be the tribune of the people.

“You have to fight corruption because where there is corruption there is no country.”


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