The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, has warned the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to resist policy ambush and the emerging discordant voices pushing for “twin-evil” policies of oil subsidy removal and naira devaluation.
The Comrade Joe Ajaero-led NLC faction yesterday told Buhari that Nigerians voted for him based on his electoral promises anchored on change, and not the devaluation of the naira and oil subsidy removal.
The union argued that naira devaluation and oil subsidy removal would amount to policy dictatorship and ambush, which had nothing to do with the ruling party’s electoral promises that spurred Nigerians to vote for it overwhelmingly.
In a statement signed by the NLC deputy president and the general secretary of the Textile Workers Union, Comrade Issa Aremu made available to newsmen in Kaduna yesterday, the workers cautioned the new administration to be wary of policy dictatorship of some vested interests aimed at undermining his electoral promises of ending mass poverty and transforming the country to prosperity.
Aremu said: “This administration must resist the new emergency discordant voices pushing for twin-evil policies of so-called oil subsidy removal and further devaluation of the naira. The two amount to policy dictatorship and policy ambush that had nothing to do with the ruling party’s electoral promises which the masses overwhelmingly voted for.
“NLC particularly rejects the call of the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Mr. Bisi Onasanya for further devaluation of the naira already in a free-fall of 18 percent against the dollar in the past year. Market operators like Mr. Bisi Onasanya should not usurp the legitimate functions of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, as the regulator through unhelpful policy dictatorship.
“We hereby support the recently announced bold measures of the Governor of CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele in managing the scarce foreign reserves through foreign-exchange restrictions on some frivolous imports. CBN should reject the least resistance of unhelpful option of further naira devaluation. The existing currency devaluation has further eroded wage income of millions of workers (many with unpaid monthly salaries). Devaluation has also increased the cost of domestic production, fuelled price inflation and undermined the competitiveness of locally surviving industry leading to loss of existing few jobs.
“The CBN ban on importers from using the foreign exchange market for some frivolous 40 items ranging from private jets to rice, wheelbarrows and Indian incense, Geisha (canned fish) and toothpicks, to even eggs is welcome and commendable.
“Nigeria more than any nation currently suffers huge capital inadequacy, with the nation’s foreign-currency reserves sharply fallen by some 27 percent to $29 billion since the end of last September. CBN measures aimed at capital application and capital control in line with its statutory objective will definitely enhance domestic production in place of unhelpful luxury imports. It will also save the nation the current capital flight averaging some N1.3 trillion ($6.5 billion) a year, (almost half of national budget) on avoidable unnecessary job-killing imports.
“Central banks worldwide ensure public control of capital for development without which capital on the loose can finance underdevelopment, cocaine growing as well as finance terrorism as America painfully came to realise in the wake of 9/11.
“Indeed CBN should include African prints textile materials in its foreign exchange restrictions. Nigeria has comparative advantage in production of African prints. It is bad enough to illegally lift the ban on its import but it’s worse that we spend scarce foreign exchange on what we can and must produce locally.
“What Nigerians look forward to are urgent fixing of the existing refineries; passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB; reorganisation and repositioning of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC; reinvention of the downstream infrastructure of fuel production and distribution, an end to crude oil theft and mass decent jobs not outworn outcry of removal of so-called fuel subsidy.
“As we have seen with good management of fertiliser subsidy in the last dispensation under former Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina , there is nothing inherently bad with subsidy. The challenge of today more than ever before is domestic production of petroleum instead of unsustainable wasteful imports. The new administration should reject one-cap fits all policy dictate. No substitute to good governance and employment generation,” the NLC said.

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