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Halt Free Fall Of Naira Now – Nlc Tasks Fg

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SAN FRANCISCO, November 25, (THEWILL) – The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, on Thursday expressed concern over the unabated decline in the value of the Naira, calling on the federal government to find a way to halt the freefall of naira against other international currencies to save Nigerians from being devastated by high inflation.

Despite efforts by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to stem the tide, the country's currency has continued depreciating in value, exchanging at the inter-bank market at about N315.60 to the dollar on Thursday and N470 to the dollar at the parallel market. Latest figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics indicate an increase in inflation rate from 17.9 per cent in September to about 18.3 per cent in October.

But rising from its NEC meeting in Sokoto, the organized labour said it was concerned at the abortive efforts by the Central Bank to arrest the fall of the naira against other international currencies, warning that the unfolding situation may escalate to a state of national panic.

It stated that the harm and pain from the devaluation and the attendant inflation have caused massive distress to millions of Nigerian families across the country.

Reviewing the present state of the nation, the NLC disclosed that the protest rallies in May against the increase in the pump price of petroleum products justified its position that tying fuel price with crude oil price at the international market and the black market exchange rate was not sustainable.

It called on the government to consider a more “pocket-friendly template on petroleum pricing” in view of the pressure by devaluations of the Naira and inflation on workers' wages, quality of life.

Part of the communiqué reads, “NEC expressed concern at the free-fall of the Naira and the abortive efforts by the Central Bank to arrest this fall.

“NEC noted the harm and pain the massive devaluation and the attendant inflation have wrought on tens of millions of families across the country.

“NEC noted that this situation may escalate into a state of national panic except a solution to the economic malaise is found soon.

“NEC accordingly resolved to urge the government to take all measures necessary to arrest the recession and turn the economy around-including recovering from multinational oil companies the un-remitted over $20 billion (as reported by NEITI), $7billion bail-out fund given to commercial banks by government with no re-payment reschedule and the billions of Naira similarly given as bail-out to private airlines but with nothing to show for it.

“NEC urged the government to comprehensively reform its budget process as well as put in place a transparent and accountable system in line with the principles of good governance.

Labour's NEC, which frowned at the refusal of government to obey the court ruling on the 45 per cent hike in electricity tariff eight months, noted that power stability was key to industrialization, self-sufficiency and economic growth.

The Council said the continued existence of poor quality of service, arbitrary charges, unwillingness of distribution companies to provide consumers with prepaid metres and a funding gap of N1trillion was a reflection of lack of capacity to turn the energy sector around.

Lamenting over the poor condition of the Nigerian workers, pensioners and their families, the NLC said these are some of the most challenging times in the life of the nation, as cost of goods and services have more than quadrupled, while wages and pensions remained static.

Although NEC commended the commitment of the federal government to the fight against corruption in the polity, it frowned at instances where corruption was being rewarded and whistle blowers punished.

It cited the case of the Federal Medical Centre, FMC, Owerri and Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, FUNAAB, where the appointments of 23 staff were terminated for exposing the corruption involving their managements.

The communiqué warned that the NLC might be compelled to act in defence of its members if government failed to take the necessary steps address the issue.