The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) on Saturday gave the federal government a 3-day ultimatum to reverse the petroleum pump price of N145 to N86.50 or risk grounding of the whole country Wednesday, 18th May, 2016.
Addressing journalists in Abuja, NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, Trade Union Congress (TUC) President, Comrade Bobboi Kaigama, Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSEN) Francis Johnson and Chairman of Labour and Civil Society Coalition (LACSCO), Dr Dipo Fashina, insisted that organised labour would go ahead with the planned nationwide strike should government fail to reverse the pump price.
Wabba, who presented the position of labour, stated: “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,” Wabba stated.
Speaking further, the NLC president explained that “the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu had been speaking from both sides of his mouth. 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 $1 billion from this process;
“Organized Labour wondered what has informed government’s sudden and dangerous policy somersault and its desperate attempt to convince the public that Labour was part of the decision that led to this price increase.