Labour warns against fuel pump price increase

•Says we won't be used to impose new price regime •Wants NNPC to stage policy dialogue on subsidy, price modulation

The Organized Labour has warned against pump price increase; saying that the Nigeria Labour movement would not be used as bate to impose new price regime on hapless poor Nigerians.

Labour has, therefore, demanded that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) must stage a policy dialogue on subsidy and fuel price modulation; insisting that the raging argument on whether there is a subsidy or not has not been really interrogated.

In an exclusive interview with TribuneOnline, the President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba, said a lot of shady deals happens on the issue of subsidy and in the importation of refined products.

He pointed out that Nigerian workers cannot be deceived to commend the recent reduction in pump price; because it was deceit, ploy and scheme to impose an era of a continuous increase in fuel pump price as being dictated by the IMF and the World Bank.

Wabba stated that the whole plan behind the recent reduction in pump price to N121 per litre was to give the impression that the pump price is now being determined and influenced by prices of crude oil in the international market and thereby handed the power to the oil marketers to continue a regime of price increase with impunity.

Citing the example of how the IMF and the World Bank destroy the Nigeria currency through continuous devaluation, the NLC president reminded Nigerians that due to the prompting from the IMF and World Bank, the country devalued her currency from when 75kobo to one dollar, N1 to a dollar, N22 to a dollar till it now gets to N450 to a dollar.

“Every administration that has come in, in Nigeria the World Bank will come in with three policies- to devalue the currency; privatize, and remove subsidy. These are the three items, consistently from the time of Obasanjo to date and we have not seen an end to it yet.

“We have continuously devalue our currency. You remember from N22 to a dollar, from N1 to a dollar, from 75 kobo to a dollar. Today, we are talking of N450 to a dollar.” He lamented.

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To this end, he warned that the Nigerian Labour movement, workers and masses would not be deceived and use as bate to impose the anticipated new price regime of consistent price increase.

Rather, he insisted that the government should reactivate the nation’s refineries, which has always been the position of NLC and the Organised Labour.

Comrade Wabba said: “We still maintain that as an oil-producing country successive government has promised that we are going to activate our refineries and produce for domestic use and remove all the bottleneck associate with price fluctuation. As I speak to you, no Nigeria will be a happy person because we are the only OPEC country that is still importing refined products.

“Marketers on the other hand are saying that forex is not available. What is the exchange rate today? So, we don’t want to be used as a bait to now impose a new price regime which clearly is what is going to happen.

“If you say markers should import and it is going to be at the current exchange rate which is above N400 to a dollar, it means even if the price has crashed to $20 because our money has been devalued, then we are going to buy at exorbitant price. The only way to end this exploitation is for us to refine.”

He added: “This is the situation, it is good that they have reduced (pump price), but the question remains: What is actually the template that is being used? The issue of whether there is a subsidy or not has not been interrogated.

“Our position is that subsidy is inefficiency but don’t transfer it to the consumers, because at the end of the day, that is what they want to achieve by saying that they reduce the price and subsequently, price will just go up. And they will say it is because there is now deregulation, or there is now removal of subsidy.

“No, it is like bate and we don’t want to be joining the conversation of bate, we want to join in the conversation of what will address this issue, where that importation and the racketeering associated with importation will be put to a permanent stop.”

The NLC president pointed out that the marketers would source their money to import fuel and at the end transfer the increase to the masses.

According to him, “if that will happen, it means this is just like a temporary measure or a temporary arrangement to lure Nigerians into the contradiction of transferring the inefficiency that is called fuel subsidy for Nigerians to continue to bear; which is what we don’t want to hear.”



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