The Nigeria Labour Congress meets today to take final decision on fuel price hike and electricity tariff increase.
Also the organised labour has told the Federal Government it will not go into any negotiation with it until the increased price of petrol and electricity tariff are reversed.
The President of Trade Union Congress (TUC), Quadri Olaleye, stated the position of workers yesterday at a dialogue on the economy between the organised labour and the Federal Government.
This is as the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, insisted that the Federal Government could not have held discussion with labour before taking a policy decision.
Olaleye got the support of the General Secretary of National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), Joe Ajaero, who is also a deputy president of the NLC. He lamented that the involvement of workers came after the Federal Government had taken the decision to increase prices.
“We think the Federal Government is speaking to us now and not speaking with us. If the government wants to engage us, it ought to have called for a meeting where issues would be looked at dispassionately and positions arrived at. Why would government think increment would automatically lead to improvement in electricity to Nigerians? This latest increment is the fifth since the power sector was privatised. Did that lead to the improved power supply? In fact, each increase shows the power sector might have been hijacked.
What we have seen emerging is the emergence of private sector monopoly, which is more terrible than public sector monopoly. Therefore, for us, there is no basis for this latest increment,” he stated.
The President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, observed that with the huge burden already placed on citizens by COVID-19, fuel price hike would drive a final nail into the coffin of dying masses.
He said, “Government cannot continue to push the people to the wall with increases in utility bills. We should ensure we refine products locally to push the price of petrol down and create jobs. Government cannot hand over our commonwealth to the private sector. We must look at other policy options to address the issue of subsidy. We are here without anything concrete for the people. We are asking government what it has for the people?”
In his contribution, the TUC President urged the Federal Government to cut down on emoluments of public officers and lawmakers.
Explaining the need for deregulation and the resultant price hike, Sylva stated that between 2016 and 2019, Nigeria lost N1 billion every day.
MEANWHILE, the independent petroleum products marketers have accused the Federal Government of deliberately hampering the country’s refineries to impoverish the masses.
The marketers, comprising members of the independent marketers branch of NUPENG, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), and tanker drivers, staged a protest yesterday at the Port Harcourt refinery, demanding the sack of the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari, over alleged inability to fix the refineries.
A leader of the protesters and Chairman independent marketers branch of NUPENG, Uche Uduwo, described as an aberration the failure of refineries to function.
“We cannot understand why the four refineries in Nigeria cannot be put to active work, when we have crude oil in the country. They go outside the country to bring petroleum products and when they do that, they send the products to private tanks. We cannot accept it any longer. We are dying; members of the public are dying.
Why should government facility be left to rot and private tank farm owners are living large? We will no longer accept it,” he said.
Udowo lamented that Port Harcourt depots had been without petroleum products for inexplicable reasons.
While the IPMAN national spokesperson, Chinedu Ukadike, also lamented that the Port Harcourt refinery and its depots have been abandoned, the Chairman of Petroleum Tanker Drivers Union, Johnbosco Bosco, said it was unacceptable that people diverted products meant for the NNPC to private tank farms.
Reacting to the outcry, the ruling All progressives Congress (APC), yesterday, enjoined Nigerians to support government’s decision to remove fuel subsidy.
APC, in a statement by its Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Yekini Nabena, argued that government was not oblivious of the financial strains brought by the increase in fuel pump price and electricity rates.