The plan to stop subsidy of imported Petroleum Motor Spirit, PMS, and pay a monthly stipend of N5000 to 40 million poor Nigerians, has been rejected by NLC, the Nigerian Labour Congress.
Speaking in Abuja, Thursday night, NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, accused the federal government of adopting monologue in arriving at its conclusion on subsidy removal, stressing that the Congress will continue to reject a deregulation that is anchored on importation of petroleum products.
“This situation will definitely be compounded by the astronomical devaluation of the naira, which currently goes for N560 to 1US$ 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,” Wabba stated.
It submitted that 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, saying this will open a wide door to unintended social consequences such as degeneration of the current insecurity crises and possibly citizens’ revolt.
The NLC warned that the bait by government to pay 40 million Nigerians N5, 000 as palliative to cushion the effect of the astronomical increase in the price of petrol, is comical. It urged the government to establish empirical data on the quantity of refined petroleum products consumed daily by Nigerians.
The Federal Government reiterated, yesterday, that its transport subsidy payment of N5, 000 to the vulnerable would be transferred digitally for a minimum period of six months and a maximum of 12 months. This, the government noted, would happen after the removal of fuel subsidy in June 2022 to give people time to adjust.
Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, made this known while briefing State House correspondents after the Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari.
In concurrence with Wabba, Peter Esele, a former president of TUC, the Trade Union Congress, has vowed to oppose any deregulation policy that is anchored on importation.
“To the best of my knowledge, both NUPENG and PENGASSAN have never opposed subsidy removal. What the labour unions are opposed to is a deregulation policy that is anchored on importation. If previous administrations have been sincere, we have been on this subsidy removal since 1999 and no singular refinery has been able to work out of the three refineries we have. Why is that difficult to achieve?
“The situation is dicey right now. The government does not have the money to continue to fund subsidies, the people are too poor to afford PMS at the international price. That is the dilemma that is facing us as a country.”