On Tuesday, the Nigeria NLC and TUC called President Bola Tinubu’s announcement that petrol subsidy was over offensive and insensitive to Nigerians’ economic plight.
The labour movement recommended the government to take a different approach to subsidy reform that would not harm Nigerians.
In response to Monday’s president’s pronouncement on gasoline subsidy removal during his inaugural speech, NLC’s Joe Ajaero asked Tinubu to reconsider the move instead of daring the people, saying it may be a costly bet.
Ajaero’s statement said the subsidy elimination was ill-timed and breached the preconditions for such a decision.
“We at the NLC are outraged by President Bola Tinubu’s pronouncement removing ‘fuel subsidy’ without due consultations with critical stakeholders or without putting in place palliative measures to cushion the harsh effects of the’subsidy removal’,” it stated.
Within hours of his announcement, service shutdowns and product price hikes, some exceeding 300 percent, plunged the nation into a spiral.
President Tinubu’s inconsiderate decision on his inauguration day caused millions of Nigerians to cry instead of hope. He devalued their life by approximately 300 percent.”
The NLC called the subsidy elimination ill-timed and demanded NNPC reform from the federal government.
After that, the government should “proceed to lay the foundation for a mass transit system in the railways and road network with long term bonds and fully develop the energy sector towards revitalising Nigeria’s economy and easing the burden any subsidy removal may have on the people,” it said.
We know this is more than the fuel subsidies. It discusses government’s views on money’s role in improving people’s lives, its relationship with the public, and its main economic goal.
Government cares most about Nigeria’s socioeconomic classes.
Thus, popular outrage. Spending more isn’t necessary. People feel cheated and sold out”.
The NLC believed that government economic decisions were political.
Progressive economics and politics. Politics and economics are elitist. Government prefers what and who in society. The Jonathan tax redefines elitism.
The question is whether the government thinks the public is worth a particular amount of money.
However, because the distance between government and the people is far and true attachment is little, government sees no purpose in continuing to spend the current level of money on the people. They consider people unworthy of money.
Government values “saving” money before saving the poor.
“If government thrashed the fuel subsidy based on considerations that it will run out of naira, then it based its decision on a factor that have not been relevant since the time of the Biafran war,” it stated.
“If he is expecting a medal for taking this decision, he would undoubtedly be disappointed to receive curses for the people of Nigeria consider this action not only a slight but a great betrayal.
We reject this policy and demand its immediate reversal.
This choice threatens our safety and well-being.
“We wonder if President Tinubu considered why his predecessors refused to execute this profoundly harmful policy decision?
“We also wonder if he forgot the words he penned down on January 8, 2012, but issued on January 11, 2012.”
The NLC reminded Tinubu of his remark against a similar action by the Jonathan administration to eliminate fuel subsidy and advised him to respect his own postulations and economic theories instead of daring the people, which may be costly.
The TUC also questioned Tinubu’s claim that the federal government has eliminated petroleum subsidy.
The TUC said, “If by this, he meant increases in pump price and the exploitation of the people by unregulated and exploitative deregulated prices, then it’s a joke taken too far” in response to the president’s inaugural speech.
The TUC president, Festus Osifoh, and General Secretary, Nuhu Toro, stated they were shocked and dismayed when Tinubu announced the petroleum product subsidy withdrawal.
“While listening to Tinubu’s inaugural address, we were initially encouraged, by his pledge to lead as a servant of the people (and not as a ruler) and to always consult and dialogue, especially on key and knotty national issues,” Osifoh remarked.
“But we were afterwards taken aback, even shocked, when he announced the withdrawal of subsidies on petroleum products, if by this, he meant hikes in pump price and the exploitation of the people by uncontrolled and exploitative deregulated prices, then it’s a joke carried too far.
“It is not for nothing the Buhari government pushed this to the new administration, but we expect the Tinubu government to be wise on such a sensitive issue and be more explicit in its pronouncement to avoid contradictory interpretation when comparing his written statement, what he said, and the provision in 2023 appropriation act.
“We dare say that this is a very delicate issue that touches on the lives, if not very survival, of particularly the working people, hence ought to have been treated with utmost caution, and should have been preceded by robust dialogue and consultation with, the representatives of the working people, including professionals, market people, students and the poor masses”.
The TUC expects to wait and let dialogue and consultation settle the issue.
It further stated that Nigerian workers and mases should not be punished for government inefficiencies.
“Accordingly, we hereby demand that President Tinubu should tarry awhile to give room for robust dialogue and consultation and stakeholders engagement, just as he opined in his speech until all issues and questions – and there are a host of them! – to ensure that they are amicably considered and resolved. “Nigerian Workers and indeed mases must not be made to suffer the inefficiency of successive governments.”
The statement claimed the labour movement was willing to engage with the Tinubu administration on the gasoline subsidy problem and that it was in the public’s interest to resolve it peacefully.
We encourage President Tinubu to be a human-faced president.
We will always support the people. “Despite harsh government policies, poor governance, and resource mismanagement that have placed us under difficult living conditions, Nigerian workers are hardworking and have remained consistent with productive work,” it continued.
However, Tinubu, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and the Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC), Mele Kyari, met on Tuesday to strategize on how to engage members of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to resolve the looming agitation against the phasing out of the petrol subsidy regime, which the president announced on Monday, according to reliable Villa sources.
The two labour unions’ talks and future talks are unknown.
Deji Elumoye, Onyebuchi Ezigbo, Emmanuel Addeh, Emameh Gabriel, Udora Orizu in Abuja, Nume Ekeghe, Peter Uzoho, and Kayode Tokede in Lagos.