NLC demands downward review of fuel price

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has demanded immediate reduction in the pump price of fuel, saying what is urgently required of the government is not another increase but a downward review of the current pump price of petroleum products.

The congress said it was opposed to any further increase in the price of fuel, even as Nigerians are still struggling to cope with the severe hardship imposed on them by the last increase.

Speaking when the NLC opened its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting and a retreat in Sokoto, on Friday, the congress President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, cautioned that the government must not take Nigerian workers and people for granted.

He warned that the patience and perseverance of the entire populace must not be taken for granted “as we will sure mobilise the entire citizenry for mass protests in addition to other legitimate actions to resist any further increase.”

Comrade Wabba said: “While Nigerians are still struggling to cope with the severe hardship imposed on them by the last increase in the price of petroleum products, there are ongoing media campaigns and contradictory statements by the NNPC and government officials on yet another plan to review the template for the pricing of petroleum products.

“We are totally opposed to any further increases as we are yet to see the benefits of the last increase even as the current Minimum Wage Act has not been reviewed. It would amount to unleashing further hardship on workers and the poor if any further price increase is allowed.

Also, the NLC president said it is impossible for any country to develop without industries, adding, “nearly all productive industries in Nigeria, especially those in the manufacturing sector has closed down while some relocated to neighbouring countries, especially in the West Africa sub-region.”

He pointed out that some of the factors that led to the collapse of industries included consistent increases in the price of petroleum products, lack of regular public electricity and general infrastructural decay.

Wabba said: “Power stability is indeed very important and critical to industrialisation, self-sufficiency and economic growth and it is scandalous that eight months after the 45 per cent hike in electricity tariff and years after the privatisation of public electricity, we still fall short of enough electricity.”

“In fact, the 45 per cent increase in electricity tariff has been declared illegal by a court of competent jurisdiction and the operators has since ordered its reversal. Rather than obey the order of the court, the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors, an umbrella body for the DISCOs has been canvassing for 200 per cent increase in the tariff. We must not allow this and we reject their proposal in its totality because it would amount to crude exploitation and insensitivity.

On the national minimum wage, Wabba said the current National Minimum Wage Act has long elapsed, adding, “we have long submitted our proposal for a review but government seem not in a haste to recognise the urgency in attending to our demands.

“Nigerian workers and pensioners are as important to the growth of the economy and must not be allowed to continue to suffer further hardships. We therefore reiterate our call on government to treat the review of the minimum wage and pension with the utmost urgency they deserve.”