The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has reiterated its rejection of petroleum price increase in the country.
The NLC President, Mr Ayuba Wabba, said this in a statement on Thursday in Abuja entitled,“ Nigerian workers refused to take the bait’’
According to Wabba, the Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Malam Mele Kyari announced that the price of petrol could jump as high as N320 and N340 from February 2022.
“The NNPC GMD/CEO said that the price increase would be consequent on the plans by the Federal Government to remove subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit also commonly referred to as petrol or fuel.
“The grand optimism of the NNPC GMD was predicated on the claims that the removal of the fuel subsidy is now backed by an act of parliament probably the Petroleum Industry Act which was recently signed into law,’’ he said.
Wabba also noted that the same assertion was re-echoed on Tuesday by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, at the launch of the World Bank Nigeria Development Update (NDU).
He added that the minister announced government’s plans to disburse N5000 to 40 million poorest Nigerians each as transport grant to cushion the effect of the planned removal of the fuel subsidy.
He noted the disclosures by the NNPC GMD and the Minister of Finance were in symphony with the positions of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund urging the Federal Government to do away with fuel subsidy.
“The response of the Nigeria Labour Congress is that what we are hearing is the conversation of the Federal government with neo-liberal international monetary institutions.
“The conversation between the government and the people of Nigeria especially workers under the auspices of the trade union movement on the matter of fuel subsidy was adjourned sine die so many months ago.
“Given the nationwide panic that has trailed the disclosure of the monologue within the corridors of government and foreign interests, the NLC wishes to maintain its rejection of deregulation based on import driven model.
“We wish to reiterate our persuasion that the only benefit of deregulation based on import driven model is that Nigerian consumers will infinitely continue to pay high prices for refined petroleum products.
“This situation will definitely be compounded by the astronomical devaluation of the Naira which currently goes for N560 to 1US$ in the parallel market, ’’he said.
The NLC president said that any attempt to compare the price of petrol in Nigeria to other countries would be set on a faulty premise as it would be akin to comparing apples to mangoes.
Wabba said the contemplation by government to increase the price of petrol by more than 200 per cent was a perfect recipe for an aggravated pile of hyper-inflation and astronomical increase in the price of goods and services.
According to him, 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.
“Finally, 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, ’’he said.
Wabba called on the federal government to consider options that can help Nigeria navigate out of the quagmire constructed by the failure of successive governments to embrace developmental governance and accountable leadership.