Nlc Directs Affiliates To Mobilise Against Fuel Subsidy Removal
SAN FRANCISCO, December 29, (THEWILL) – Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has directed its affiliate unions and state councils to begin mobilisation against the planned removal of fuel subsidy by the Federal Government.
The congress said on Tuesday that its National Executive Council (NEC) was also set for a crucial meeting in the new year to reaffirm its avowed opposition to any “back door” removal of subsidy that would leave Nigerians worse.
In a statement by Peter Ozo-Eson, the general secretary, the NLC said the discordant tunes so far by officials of the government were aimed at confusing Nigerians who would be worse off with fuel subsidy removal.
“In the past few weeks, we have heard discordant tunes from government officials and chieftains of the ruling APC on what the future portends for the prices of petroleum products and the management of the subsidy scheme.
“We wish to restate our opposition, adopted at our Central Working Committee Emergency Meeting of 22nd December, to any attempt by the government to increase the price of or remove subsidy on petrol.
“We reiterate our directive to our state councils and industrial unions to commence the process of mobilisation prior to a meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) to be convened in the New Year,” the statement said.
It condemned APC chieftains who encouraged the massive protests against subsidy removal in 2012 for turning around to preach the inevitability of subsidy removal.
“The minister of state for petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, first announced that come next year, the price of petrol will revert to N97 per litre and that subsidy will be phased out.
“Two days, thereafter, he denied this and stated that what he said was that the price will operate within a band of N87 to N97 and that this did not mean removing the subsidy. The same minister now says that the price of petrol will now be N85 in January, signifying the deregulation of the sector.
“These vacillations and flip flops are, in our view, designed to confuse Nigerians and pave the way for deregulation of petrol prices through the back door,” the NLC said.
The congress argued that what the Federal Government needed to give priority was the domestic refining of petroleum products and discontinuation of import.
“The fact of the matter is that as long as we continue to depend on imported refined products, deregulation and the abandonment of a subsidy scheme will unleash hardship on Nigerians. In any case, according to our laws, the determination of the recommended prices of petroleum products is the responsibility of the Petroleum Products Prices Regulatory Agency (PPPRA).
“By law, the board of PPPRA is made up of stakeholders. None of the contradictory prices the minister is throwing up is a product of the agency. Indeed, the board of the PPPRA has not operated for over two years, although we have made repeated demands for the convening of the board.
“We therefore call on the government to be guided by the rule of law and constitute and convene the board of PPPRA in accordance with the law without further delay. This will enable the agency to examine and agree a new pricing template based on the realities of today. Any price unilaterally determined and announced by the minister is in violation of the law,” the NLC further said.