Fuel/electricity tariff hike: CNG set for mass protest soon

The Coalition of Northern Group (CNG) has said it would soon embark on mass protest over the recent hike in pump price of fuel and electricity tariff.

This was even as it rejected entirely, the suspension of the NLC and TUC national mass action earlier scheduled for Monday, September 28, 2020.

The coalition thus directed all her state chapters to reach out to the civil society and credible NGOs and prepared for a massive protest on a date to be announced soon.

They also directed state CNG to prepare all the components of the northern society for the massive protest aimed at forcing the reversal of hike in petrol and electricity tariff.

Speaking in a news conference on Tuesday at Arewa House, spokesperson of the group, Abdul Azeez Suleiman condemned the labour union leaders for betraying the trust of the public and compromising the expectations of the general public.

“The CNG and affiliates had indicated readiness to participate actively in a national mass action agreed to be spearheaded by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), from Monday, September 28, 2020 to force the Federal Government to reverse the increased prices resulting from downstream sector deregulation and tariff adjustment in the power sector.

“After sufficiently mobilizing Nigerians, NLC and the TUC surprisingly announced a 2-week suspension ostensibly following an agreement at a meeting with government officials on the eve of the planned action.

“The announcement said that the labour leaders had agreed that the hiked electricity tariff be suspended for two weeks, while the new pump price of petrol remains unchanged at the expense of the majority of toiling Nigerians.

“Government was said to have committed to a set of vague promises of reactivating the nation’s refineries in addition to the following general interventions as palliative.”

Suleiman who was flanked by some members of the asked the Federal Government to “unveil a specific amount in two weeks time isolated from the Economic Sustainability Programme Intervention Fund to be accessed by Nigerian workers with subsequent provision for 240,000 under the auspices of NLC and TUC for agricultural ventures.

“Facilitate the removal of tax on minimum wage to cushion the impact of the policy on the lowest vulnerable and provide to labour unions 133 CNG/LPG driven mass transit buses immediately and provide to the major cities across the country on a scale-up basis, thereafter, to all states and local governments before December 2021.

Accordingly, they also stated that CNG is aware of promised by the government to “allocate 10% of housing to Nigerian workers under the ongoing Ministry of Housing and Finance initiative through the NLC and TUC.

CNG said, “it wishes to join the vast majority of Nigerians, whose interests were not in any way reflected or protected in the labour/FG agreement in arriving at the agreement.”

The body further said observed that the agreement reflected the concentration of negotiation on only the electricity tariff which was just one demand out of many concerns raised by Nigerians such as exploitative taxation, insecurity, infrastructural decay, massive unemployment and poverty.

“That even at that, no representation was made about the existing wide discrepancy between the electricity tariffs obtainable in the north, and those in the southern parts.

“That the agreement did not bind the Federal Government to a definite time frame within which to revive the capacities of the national petrochemical refining assets.

“That the entire palliative package does not reflect the overall interest of the mass of suffering Nigerians outside the fold of the NLC and TUC which collectively accounts for only about 0.5% of the total national population.

“That the package merely offers temporary relief to a minor section of the population with the vast majority condemned to suffer the harsh realities perpetually, as prohibitive fuel prices inadvertently reflect on other commodities.

“That this capitulation by the labour leadership signals the need for the formation of an alternative unified, more confident, and the consistent national front for undertaking further autonomous actions outside the workers’ unions,” they stated.

 

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