Saturday, December 2, 2023

300% petrol price hike: You’re provocative, insensitive; Labour tackles governors over proposal

Organised Labour has described the recent proposal by the 36 State governors for an astronomical hike in the price of refined petroleum products by about 300 percent as “the height of provocation, arbitrariness, detachment and insensitivity to the current economic realities in the country.”
The Council therefore warned of a nationwide strike by Nigerian workers without any further notice should the Federal Government accepts the proposal and proceeds to adjust further the price of petrol in the country.
The governors under the aegies of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) threw their full weight behind the full deregulation policy of the Federal Government in the pricing of petroleum products.
The policy has so far seen the price of petrol increase from N145 per litre to about N165 across the country, even as petroleum products marketers are threatening to further adjust the price higher.
After considering the report of the committee constituted by the National Economic Council (NEC) on the full deregulation of price of petrol, the governors proposed that the retail pump price of the commodity should be adjusted to about N385 per litre.
The six-member committee headed by the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, was mandated to look into the dwindling revenues of State governments and recommend to the Council ways to enhance the situation.
Other members of the committee included Governors Godwin Obaseki of Edo, Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti, and David Umahi of Ebonyi, as well as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, and the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari.
El-Rufai justified the proposal by the governors with argument that between N70 billion and N210 billion is spent by the NNPC monthly to subsidise the current petrol price of between N162 and N165 per litre.
But the National Executive Council (NEC) of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) at the end of its meeting in Abuja on Tuesday stoutly opposed the governors’ proposal.
The NEC comprises all past and present NLC Presidents, General Secretaries and Treasurers of affiliate unions; Chairpersons and Secretaries of State Councils and the FCT; and members of the National Administrative Council.
In its communique at the end of the meeting, the Labour leaders said apart from the proposal not being in sinc with the current economic reality in the country, particularly the extreme hardship Nigerian workers are going through, there is no negotiation with government over fuel price increase at the moment.
“The last meeting with the government on the issue in February 2021 was adjourned sine die. Since then, no other meeting has been called by the government,” the NEC noted.
Reiterating the decision it took on February 17, 2021 after the last meeting between labour and the Federal Government team on fuel price increase, NEC said it was unacceptable to bring another proposal for another hike in the price of petrol at this time.
Consequently, NEC resolved to still stand by its decision of February 17, 2021 to reject further increases in the price of refined petroleum products, particularly the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).
The Council restated that the only sustainable way out of the crisis of fuel importation and associated dislocations in the downstream petroleum sub-sector was the rehabilitation of all four public refineries in PortHarcourt, Warri and Kaduna as well as building of new ones.
“Any decision to increase by even one cent the price of refined petroleum products, especially PMS will attract an immediate withdrawal of services by Nigerian workers all over the country without any further notice,” NEC warned
Also, it resolved to write officially to the Federal Government to convey the plight of the Nigerian workers, the concerns of Congress and the resolutions of the NEC on the matter of fresh proposals for an increase in the pump price of fuel, especially as informed by the stance of the Nigeria Governors Forum.