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Civil protests brewing, as NLC vows to resist Nigerian govt’s plan to hike fuel prices

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Ayuba-Wabba

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Monday pledged to vehemently oppose the planned increment in fuel prices by the Federal Government.

This was disclosed by the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba at the opening ceremony of 17th NLC Harmattan School in Ilorin, Kwara State while disclosing that labour had commenced mobilisation against the proposed increment.

Ripples Nigeria had reported that the FG announced it would withdraw subsidies on petroleum products from 2022, thereby increasing the prices of fuel products in the process.

However, Wabba noted that if the government succeeds in the plan, the impact of the price hike would affect every Nigerian, motorist, household, transporters, and others.

The NLC President also lamented that out of the OPEC member countries, it was only Nigeria that was following the International Monetary Fund (IMF) policies, which he described as neoliberal.

Wabba said, “The concept of accepting deregulation hook line and sinker anchored on import driven price model is not something that we can accept. We have said that without mincing words.

“If you say we are pushing through our throat to accept deregulation on the basis of importation, basically there will be no end to price increase even the issue of saying that once you deregulate without having the capacity to refine for domestic use will bring down the price of PMS, is not correct.

“When the price of crude oil was almost at a zero level, the price of two items that were deregulated never came down; that is diesel and the price of kerosene. In fact, they kept going up. The market fundamentals, marketers are out there to make maximum profit and usually, they will collide and that is what will happen to Nigeria if we accept that policy hook line and sinker

“The implication is not also on the working class because whether we like it or not, the minimum wage gain has been eroded completely with the disparate effect of the issue of the falling value of our currency so the major issue under contention is actually how do we stabilise the value of the naira.

“Once you don’t stabilise the value of the naira, anything imported will have an effect on the larger economy but also on the cost of goods and services.

“This is the reality. So we are actually calling for reviving of the refineries, making them work, don’t export our jobs let us benefit substantially from what God has given us freely.

“Labour has done a lot of studies out of the OPEC countries. We are the only country trying to adopt this IMF imposed model of deregulation on the basis of import driven price mechanism.

“That will not be good for our economy and that is the idea of our argument that yes you can liberalise but not on this monopoly of making sure that it is only import driven.

“The issue of extending N5,000 to 40 million Nigerians. The impact of the policy of price hike under the name of deregulation will affect every Nigerian citizen either directly or indirectly.

“We don’t have empirical data even on the poor of the poorest and so basically it is going to be the same way those other policies have gone and that is why we said no because there will be a spiral. inflation and we have seen that each time there is a slight increase in the pump price of PMS, because of its centrality to our economy, the impact will be very humongous.”

Wabba further called for a holistic engagement of all stakeholders while itemising the solutions out of the current state of affairs.

He said, “But engaging the process also has to be open. You don’t have to make a pronouncement before inviting labour to the negotiating table because it is like the deed is done and that is why we are also mobilising our people this time around we are not saying increase N5, you are moving the price from N162 or N163 to N340 or N408.

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” If we are to actually go by the recommendations of the governor’s forum, I don’t see how that can be pushed down the throat of Nigerians looking at the impact. Not even the political considerations, it is about the economic impact on business, citizens and the fact that it is going to push more Nigerians below the poverty block. These are the concerns labour has had.

“We have made three recommendations. Can we identify refineries around the shores of Africa to do a crude oil swap? When you do that you insulate the Nigerian market and consumers because in one barrel of crude oil you have about 19 derivatives that will be able to take care of freight to and fro and taxes and even at a profit to the Nigerian government.

“This policy option was recommended since the time of Obasanjo. Yar’Adua embraced it but nothing happened and now we are at the same stage again.

“Revive the four refineries. We know why they are not working. It pays those cabals better to import than to refine products and they will do everything possible to ensure the refineries don’t work so it will take a lot of political will by our leadership to try to fix those refineries.

“The third one is the argument of how many litres of oil we consume per day. To date nobody knows, we are just juggling around figures because nobody wants to make the figures known to social partners and Nigerians.

“Can’t we find out how many litres we are consuming per day to enable us to make decisions because if we want to refine for domestic use we need to know how much we are actually consuming?

“We have said it several times that the concept of adopting deregulation anchored in importation would not be supported by us as it would mean no end to the fuel crisis.

“It pays the cabals to import than to refine locally hence it will take a lot of political will to fight them. We’ve told those in government to give us the figure of what our consumption daily is.”

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