Wednesday, May 18, 2022

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Fuel price hike: Labour braces for showdown with Buhari

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has warned the Federal Government over its proposed increase of the Premium Motor Spirit from N162 to N340 by 2022.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer Mele Kyari had earlier said that petrol would sell between N320 and N340 per litre from February once the downstream subsector is deregulated.

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 40million citizens as transport allowance to cushion the effects of the new regime.

The congress, who on Monday put its members on alert over a likely hike in pump price, has commenced mobilisation to shut down the economy, should the Federal Government proceed with its proposed increase, TheNation reports.

They reportedly explained that they would not fold their hands and watch the Federal Government push more Nigerians below the poverty line, noting that any attempt to increase the price of petrol would affect every Nigerian regardless of their status.

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. 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.”

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