May 15, 2016 - 5:10 AM EDT
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NLC, Tuc Give FG 3 Days to Restore Fuel Subsidy

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) have given the federal government a three-day ultimatum to reverse its decision to remove subsidy on petroleum motor spirit (PMS), which led to the increase in the pump price of the product to N145 per litre from N86.50 per litre, or the workers would shut down the whole country at the expiration of the ultimatum

NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, Trade Union Congress (TUC) President, Comrade Bobboi Kaigama, who spoke yesterday at a press conference that also included Chairman of Labour and Civil Society Coalition (LACSCO), Dr. Dipo Fashina, insisted that the organised labour would make good their threat, should the government fail to reverse the pump price.

According Wabba, "in the event government fails to accede to these demands on or before 12 midnight on Tuesday, May 17, 2016, the Nigeria Labour Congress, the Trade Union Congress and their civil society allies resolve to commence the following actions with effect from Wednesday, May 18, 2016: Mobilise to the streets across the country, ordinary and helpless Nigerians to whom they owe the duty of protection. Shut down all Banks, Sea and Airports, Government and private offices as well as Markets; Commence indefinite nationwide strike action.

"Fight and resist the machinations and cruelties of the neo-liberal forces in the government as part of the process of saving the government from itself and the generality of Nigerians from slavery."

He said the labour unions further forewarned Nigerians to prepare ahead of the planned strike by stockpiling foodstuffs and other items in order to not be caught unaware.

"Nigerians are therefore advised to stock sufficient food items that will last for a while for the prosecution of the current struggle against neo-liberal agenda in Nigeria."

Wabba, who presented the position of labour stated that, "the emergency meeting debated extensively the implications of government's unilateral increase in prices of petroleum products, noting government's disinclination for consultation on issues of public interest and its obsession with protecting product marketers at the expense of the Nigerian public.

"The meeting expressed concern about government's neo-liberal policies which it considered a betrayal of its electioneering promises and observed as follows:

During the electioneering campaign last year, the Presidential Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Muhammadu Buhari, had promised that, if elected president, he would not remove fuel subsidy if there was any at all."

"After his election, President Muhammadu Buhari had maintained that there was no subsidy in the petroleum product price regime and that even if there was, he did not see how its removal would be beneficial to the ordinary Nigerian, noting that the slightest product price adjustment often leads to inflationary spiral and unimaginable suffering for the people."

"On January 18, 2016, the government further allayed the fears of the Nigerian people by reducing the pump price of PMS to N86:50, explaining that the reduction was in furtherance of the implementation of the revised component of the Petroleum Products Pricing for PMS and kerosene," he added.

Wabba was however disappointed that "the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, had been speaking from both sides of his mouth." According to him, "whereas last year, he had strongly canvassed for the removal of "subsidy" in defiance of President Buhari, about a month ago, he claimed the subsidy had been removed through his ingenuity and that Nigeria was saving $1billion from this process.

He said, "organised labour wondered what has informed government's sudden and dangerous policy summersault and its desperate attempt to convince the public that labour was part of the decision that led to this price increase."

"In view of the fact that the board of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), which is statutorily vested with powers to recommend prices, has not been reconstituted, the price variation announced by any officer of the agency or outside the agency is not only ultra vires and illegal, it is a criminal imposition on the citizenry".

"The price hike from N86:50 to N145, representing 67.63 per cent increase, is the height of insensitivity and impunity as there was no previous consultation with stakeholders, especially the organised labour, or any justification for this reckless decision other than the fact that government believes it is accountable to no one," he pointed out.

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Source: News (May 15, 2016 - 5:10 AM EDT)

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