Fuel price increase: Nationwide crisis imminent as NLC finally reject deregulation

•Says it's import driving; reject airports concession •FG jittery, schedule urgent meeting with Labour for Sunday

A nationwide crisis is imminent over the government incessant increase in the prices of petroleum products; as the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has finally rejected the present deregulation policy.

But the Federal Government seems to be jittery by the new position of the NLC and has urgently scheduled a meeting with the Organised Labour for Sunday.

Rising from its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting in Abuja, the congress said its NEC in session has resolved to reject deregulation because it is import driven.

A communique issued after the NEC meeting and signed by the NLC President, Comrade Ayubba Wabba and the General Secretary, Comrade Emmanuel Ugboaja, states that “the NEC resolved to reject deregulation as long as it is import driven.”

The communique added: “NEC reiterated the traditional position of congress that government should rehabilitate and revamp Nigeria’s local refineries as a sustainable solution to incessant increases in the pump price of petrol. The NEC posited that Nigeria’s refineries can be made to work in a short time once the government asserts the political will to do so.

“The NEC also urged the Nigerian government to find ways and means to shield Nigerian citizens from the volatilities in the international crude oil market. The NEC also demanded that the template used in determining the pump price of PMS which includes inbuilt charges and the inflationary trend should be reviewed to the benefit of Nigerians. NEC called for modular refineries in order to bring down the price of diesel.”

The congress observed that the issues driving incessant increases in the pump price of the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) otherwise known as petrol and other refined petroleum products in Nigeria remain the same.

These factors, according to the NLC, include Nigeria’s dependence on imported refined petroleum products owing to the near-comatose of all of Nigeria’s public refineries, sea freight charges, the use of Import Parity Prices to calculate the landing cost of petrol and the unbearable pressure occasioned by the persistent volatility in foreign exchange rates.

Other factors include additional costs owing to the absence of critical infrastructures in the ports to handle imported refined petroleum products, the cost of demurrage, and taxes by different regulatory agencies.

The NEC also expressed worries that previous promises made by successive governments to fix refineries have never been fulfilled.

The NEC also rejected concession of Nigeria’s airports and other considerations for privatization; describing such move as a great disservice to the Nigerian people and a betrayal of the efforts of Nigerian workers especially those employed in the aviation sector.

The NEC described the move by the government to concession Nigeria’s major airports to private business, as resonating with the appetite by successive Nigerian governments to privatize every public asset.

It warned that experience had shown that neither concession nor privatization of public enterprises and assets has been to the advantage of the Nigerian people and workers.

The congress also decried the failure of some state governments to pay the national minimum wage and minimum pension, while it deplored the failure of some state governments to conclude negotiations on consequential salary adjustment owing to the new national minimum wage.

It, therefore, directed all states where the national minimum wage of N30,000 is yet to be paid to immediately proceed on industrial action.

The communique read: “The NEC warned that it would take very drastic action against state governments that have refused to pay the new national minimum wage and minimum pension which benefit had already been eroded by the escalating inflation in the country.

“The NEC also resolved to view the refusal to pay the new national minimum wage by state governments as demanded by the law as an act of criminality, betrayal of the oath of office sworn by state chief executives and a dangerous adventure in anarchy.”

Meanwhile, the Federal Government on Thursday night invited the organized Labour to a meeting scheduled to take place on Sunday at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa.

The meeting, scheduled to commence at 6 pm will be hosted by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige.

An invited sent Thursday evening read: “The Honourable Minister for Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige will be hosting a bilateral discussion between the Federal Government and Organized Labour. The meeting is scheduled for Sunday 21, February 2021.”

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