Petrol subsidy removal: NLC rejects fresh petrol price hike, tells FG ‘we refuse to take the bait’

Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) says it will not fall for palliatives reportedly being offered Federal Government following its planned move to remove subsidies on petrol prices, a decision which will see the commodity rise in price across the country.

Federal Government, while admitting it can no longer shoulder the cost of subsidies had offered to pay up to N5000 to public and some Nigerian workers as transport allowances to ameliorate the anticipated cost of the rise in fares.

NLC President, Mr Ayuba Wabba

However, reacting to the planned move by the government, the NLC, Wednesday, called it ‘a perfect recipe for an aggravated pile of hyper-inflation and astronomical increase in the price of goods and services.’

According to the labour group, in a statement by its President, Ayuba Wabba, ‘this will open a wide door to unintended social consequences such as degeneration of the current insecurity crises and possibly citizens’ revolt. This is not an outcome that any sane Nigeria wishes for.’

“The argument that the complete surrender of the price of petrol to market forces would normalize the curve of demand and supply as is being wrongly attributed to the current market realities with cooking gas, diesel and kerosene is very obtuse. The truth is that these commodities which Nigeria can easily produce have been priced out of the reach of most Nigerian families with majority of our people resorting to tree felling and charcoal for their energy needs.

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“We wish to warn that the bait by government to pay 40 million Nigerians N5000 as palliative to cushion the effect of astronomical increase in the price of petrol is comical, to say the least. The total amount involved in this queer initiative is far more than the money government claims to spend currently on fuel subsidy.

“Apart from our concerns on the transparency of the disbursement given previous experiences with such schemes, we are wondering if government is not trying to rob Nigerians to pay Nigerians? Why pay me N5000 and then subject me to perpetual suffering?

“Clearly, government thoughts on the so-called removal of fuel subsidy is cloudy and appears to be a “penny wise-pound foolish” gamble. It is clear that the palliative offered by government will not cure the cancer that will befall the mass of our people who suffer the double jeopardy of hype-inflation while their salaries remain fixed,” the labour union said.

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This is also as the NLC reiterated its earlier stand that the solution to the crisis of energy remains to ‘nsulate the domestic consumers from the market pressure brought about by the free fall of the Naira by making arrangement with contiguous refineries not far from Nigeria to swap crude oil with refined petroleum products.’

“As we had done several times, we call on the federal government to consider various options that can help Nigeria navigate out of the quagmire constructed by the failure of successive governments to embrace developmental governance and accountable leadership. Some of the viable options that can help include:

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“Accelerate work on the rehabilitation of Nigeria’s four major refineries which are all currently operating at near zero installed capacity; and Establish empirical data on the quantity of refined petroleum products consumed daily by Nigerians. It is unfortunate that this record remains a myth and a huge crater for all manner of official sleaze and leakages in the downstream petroleum sub-sector of Nigeria’s oil and gas industry.”

The NLC, therefore, rejected a planned petrol price hike as well as the Federal Government’s proposal to pay the sum of N5000 monthly to Nigerians as palliative.

Continuing, Wabba lamented that there are no ongoing talks between labour and the Federal Government, as negotiation was adjourned (with no new date assigned) many months ago, even as he accused the government of adopting monologue in arriving at its conclusion on subsidy removal, further stressing that it will continually reject deregulation that is anchored on the importation of petroleum products.

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