Fuel Subsidy: After meeting Tinubu’s delegation, NLC insists on price reversal
July 1, 2023
“This is an ambush and runs against the spirit and principles of social dialogue…,” the labour union said.
The meeting between organised labour and officials of the federal government on fuel subsidy ended in a deadlock with the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) insisting on the reversal of the price increase.
The meeting was held at the State House in Abuja and was attended by the head of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPCL), Mele Kyari; a presidential aide, Dele Alake, the president of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Festus Osifo, and other officials.
The NLC in a statement after the meeting described the increase in the pump price of petrol as an “ambush” against the Nigerian people.
The NNPCL had on Wednesday directed its outlets nationwide to sell fuel between N480 and N570 per litre; an almost 200 per cent increase from the initial price of below N200.
The Chief Corporate Communications Officer of NNPC Ltd, Garba Deen Muhammad, said the price adjustment was made in line with “market realities”.
The NNPCL made the announcement two days after the inauguration of Bola Tinubu as Nigeria’s president during which he said fuel subsidy must be removed based on the arrangements made by his predecessor.
But the NLC faulted the move by the government, adding that the removal of subsidy or fixing of the price should be done after adequate consultation.
“We are worried that the government through the NNPC despite the ongoing meeting of stakeholders in the oil and gas sector to manage the unilateral but unfortunate announcement by the President to withdraw subsidy on petroleum products, went ahead this morning to announce a new regime of prices under a new pricing template,” the labour union said.
“This is an ambush and runs against the spirit and principles of social dialogue which remains the best platform available for the resolution of all the issues arising out of the petroleum downstream sector.
“Government cannot in one breathe be talking about deregulation and at the same time fixing the prices of Petroleum products. This negates the spirit of allowing the operation of the free market unless the government has as usual usurped, captured or become Market forces.”
Mr Ajaero called on the government to immediately instruct the NNPCL to withdraw the template to give room for dialogues between the government and labour leaders.
Meanwhile, it was gathered that the labour leaders met with representatives of the federal government on Wednesday in Abuja.
Speaking at the end of the meeting, Mr Alake, spokesperson of the Bola Tinubu campaign, said that both parties “have been deliberating on finding very amicable solutions to the issue at hand.”
“We had a very robust engagement. We cross-fertilized ideas, ideas flew from all sides and there is one thing that is remarkable even from the Labour side, and that is Nigeria,” he said.
“We are all looking at the peace, progress and stability of Nigeria. That is what is paramount.”
Mr Alake said that the talks are ongoing and it is better for all sides to keep talking with a view to arriving at a very amicable resolution that will be in the longer-term interest of all Nigerians.
But the Trade Union Congress (TUC) President, Festus Osifo, lamented that there had been no communication between the government and labour leaders.
“If you listen to the president during the inauguration at eagles square, he said one of the hallmarks of this administration is going to be dialogue, is going to be consultation, that they are not going to lord it over us,” the TUC official said.
“I’m trying to paraphrase what he said, that he is not going to be a dictator. And what has happened in terms of day has not shown what was written in his address.
“So, all we said before now was that we ought to have sat down, have this conversation before anything could have happened.”
The official noted that labour leaders have been open to conversations but no such communication existed.
He said: “So, there was no conversation whatsoever, so for over a year, there wasn’t formal engagements and formal meetings. And because there wasn’t formal engagements and formal meetings that is why we found ourselves in this.
“If we have met before now, we would have proposed a lot of things. We have experts in our midsts who could have proffered some solutions, even the CNG how it could have been done faster. Because our own is, how do we protect the Nigerian people and the workforce?
“So, it’s not about grandstanding but it’s about how do we protect the workforce. Clearly, we have stated in our meeting today, let the statuesque ante remains, while we go back and have conversations with our principal, because the workers are our principal then we will reconvene for their discussion. But we hope that they will revert to the statuesque ante.”