NLC rejects subsidy removal, says it’s a foolish gamble

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The Nigeria Labour congress, NLC has rejected the Federal government’s planned fuel subsidy removal describing it as a ‘penny wise pound foolish’ gamble.

The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, Mele Kyari, had on Tuesday announced at a World Bank event in Abuja that petrol would sell for between N320 and N340 per litre from February 2022 and that the federal government had plans to replace fuel subsidy with a N5,000 monthly transportation subsidy to the poor in a bid to cushion its effect.

The congress in a statement on Wednesday by its President, Ayuba Wabba, said the government’s thoughts on the move was cloudy and that the move is a recipe for aggravated hyper-inflation.

In a statement titled, ‘Nigerian workers refuse to take the bait,” the congress said, “The contemplation by government to increase the price of petrol by more than 200 per cent is a perfect recipe for an aggravated pile of hyper-inflation and astronomical increase in the price of goods and services.

“This will open a wide door to unintended social consequences such as degeneration of the current insecurity crises and possibly citizens’ revolt. This is not an outcome that any sane Nigeria wishes for.”

Wabba said the discussion between the Federal Government and the World Bank is a monologue, adding that the NLC would continue to insist on its rejection of deregulation based on import-driven model.

The NLC President said it was difficult to convince Nigerian workers why the country is the only nation among the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries that could not produce its own refined petroleum products and thus adopts the neo-liberal import production model of refined petroleum products.

He added, “We wish to reiterate our persuasion that the only benefit of deregulation based on import-driven model is that Nigerian consumers will infinitely continue to pay high prices for refined petroleum products.

“This situation will definitely be compounded by the astronomical devaluation of the naira which currently goes for N560 to US dollars in the parallel market. Thus, any attempt to compare the price of petrol in Nigeria to other countries would be set on a faulty premise as it would be akin to comparing apples to mangoes.”

“We wish to warn that the bait by government to pay 40 million Nigerians N5,000 as palliative to cushion the effect of astronomical increase in the price of petrol is comical, to say the least.

“The total amount involved in this queer initiative is far more than the money government claims to spend currently on fuel subsidy. Apart from our concerns on the transparency of the disbursement given previous experiences with such schemes, we are wondering if government is not trying to rob Nigerians to pay Nigerians? Why pay me N5000 and then subject me to perpetual suffering.

“Clearly, government thoughts on the so-called removal of fuel subsidy is cloudy and appears to be a “penny wise-pound foolish” gamble. It is clear that the palliative offered by government will not cure the cancer that will befall the mass of our people who suffer the double jeopardy of hype-inflation while their salaries remain fixed.”

—Senate,others fault subsidy removal—

The Senate also faulted plans by the N5,000 to 40 million Nigerians as transportation expenses.

But the Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, Senators Solomon Adeola, told journalists on Wednesday that there was no provision for N5,000 for the said monthly stipend for 40 million  Nigerians, in the 2022 budget  currently  before the National Assembly.

He said the executive would have to bring the proposal to the parliament for approval before it could start its implementation.

He said there is no way the executive would take a unilateral decision on a programme that would gulp N2.4tn without getting the approval of the parliament

He also queried the criteria that the executive would use to determine the beneficiaries of the transportation  allowance.

Health workers under the aegis of the Joint Health Sector Union also cautioned the Federal Government over the proposed increase in fuel prices.

The spokesperson for JOHESU,  Olumide Akintayo in an interview with one of our correspondents advised the Federal Government to look for other alternatives to solve the issues surrounding the fuel subsidy.


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