Labour Warns NEC against Endorsing Proposed N385 Petrol Price
•Says govs’ recommendation anti-people
The organised labour at the weekend cautioned the National Economic Council (NEC) against approving a recommendation by the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) seeking a N385 pump price for petrol.
State affiliates of the organised labour, in separate interviews with THISDAY, said doing so will unleash hardships on the people and heat up the polity.
Their warning came ahead of a National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), scheduled for Abuja tomorrow, to deliberate on the issue.
The 36 governors, under the auspices of the NGF, at a meeting last week, had endorsed the N385 per litre pump price recommended by a committee set up by NEC, and headed by the Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai.
However, the recommendation is subject to approval by NEC, chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
Although the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Timipre Sylva, had at the weekend allayed fears of an increase in petrol price, the various states’ chapters of the labour unions vowed to resist the proposed price regime, if approved.
Reacting to the governors’ proposal, the Chairman of the Niger State chapter of the NLC, Mr. Yakubu Garba, told THISDAY at the weekend that there would be a “great revolt across the country if the pump price of petrol is increased to N385 per litre as proposed by the Nigerian Governors’ Forum”.
Garba stated that the workers would resist the proposed price, as the proposal by the governors is not only anti-workers but also anti-people.
According to him, the position of the “state NLC is the same with that of the national leadership of the congress, which is that government should make the refineries work.
“When the refineries are functional, they will serve two purposes – local supply of fuel will be adequate and at the right price, in addition to the country generating a lot of income from the export of petroleum products”.
Garba added that many Nigerians would also be employed.
He urged the NEC to reject the proposal by the governors, as approving it will heat up the nation.
The Sokoto State chapter of NLC said it would resist any attempt by the federal government to accept the proposal of state governors to increase the pump price to N385 against the current N165.
In an interview with THISDAY, the chairman of the council in the state, Mr. Aminu Umar Ahmad, wondered why the state governors who were supposed to care for the welfare of the citizens would sit down to take such a “heinous decision.”
He said: “Let me tell you; I’m disappointed at the action and attitude of the governors in taking such a decision that has adverse effects on the people.”
Umar added that the proposal by the governors would never see the light of the day, as labour will fight it with the last drop of their blood.
On his part, the Chairman of NLC in Zamfara State, Mr. Sani Magajinrafinya, told THISDAY that: “The action of the governors is a betrayal of public trust.”
Sani urged the governors to look beyond crude oil and diversify their states’ sources of internally generated revenue.
He also stated that labour will use all arsenal at its disposal to resist any attempt to increase petrol pump price.
He confirmed that the NLC executive will meet tomorrow to deliberate on the matter.
Also, in his reaction, the Chairman of NLC in Kebbi State, Mr. Umar Halidu Hassan, said the action of the governors was a breach of agreement they entered with their people.
“I think the governors were not in the right mood when they took this decision,” he said.
According to him, any attempt to implement the proposal will trigger a nationwide industrial crisis.
Also, the Oyo State Chairman of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Mr. Emmanuel Ogundiran, said the union would resist the proposed increment of price of petrol to N385 per litre.
Ogundiran told THISDAY that the governors have continued to constitute themselves into anti-workers and anti-people group by throwing up policies that would further impoverish Nigerians.
He added that the NGF is not known to the Nigerian constitution.
He said: “What I am very sure of is that labour would not sit idly and accept this from the governors.”
On his part, the state Chairman of the NLC, Mr. Kayode Martins, said the union would not support such increment in the price of petrol.
He described the governors as enemies of the country who do not care about the hardship Nigerians are facing daily.
He stated that the position of the national leadership of the union would be binding on the state chapter.
Akwa Ibom State chapter of the NLC also rejected the proposal by the governors, saying it will not see the light of the day.
The state Chairman of NLC, Mr. Sunny James, told THISDAY that “there is no way we could accept such a thing.”
“NLC is the only hope of a common man at the moment in the country. It is totally unacceptable to allow the governors to slam that kind of hardship on the workers.
“They have the right to take their decision, but we will not allow them to implement such a thing. We are waiting for a directive from the national body. We are going to have an NLC executive meeting to look at all the situations in the country,” he stated.
Also in an interview with THISDAY, the Nasarawa State Chairman of the NLC, Mr. Yusuf Sarki Iyah, described the governors’ proposal as unfortunate.
He said: “Let me use this medium to describe this call by the governors as an unfortunate call. It is uncalled for at this moment when the impact of COVID-19 pandemic is still biting hard on the citizens of Nigeria.”
Iya stated that there would be a national executive council meeting of the NLC tomorrow to discuss the petrol price increase proposal by the governors.
The Enugu State chapter of the NLC has also rejected the governors’ proposal.
The state Chairman of the NLC, Mr. Virginus Nwobodo, said the national leadership of the union had summoned a meeting for tomorrow for the various organs of the congress to take a position.
He said it would not be easy for the governors to achieve their aim because they would not be the only ones to make inputs about petrol deregulation and increase in price of the product.
The first Vice Chairman of the Kwara State chapter of NLC, Alhaji Murtala Saheed Olayinka, told THISDAY in Ilorin that the planned fuel price hike would bring untold hardship to the workers and Nigerians, adding that the union will not support it.
He said labour would resist such move so as to avoid any burden on the average workers.
“I want to also say that even if the payment of minimum wage is implemented for workers today, the hike in fuel prices would not bring new lease of life to us and the entire Nigerians,” he added.
The Chairman of the TUC in Ekiti State, Mr. Sola Adigun, said that the proposed full deregulation of the petrol sector could only take off when the refineries started working at optimal capacity.
Adigun’s counterpart in the NLC, Kolapo Olatunde, stated that governors’ proposal can’t be implemented at this time when the people are groaning under harsh economic condition.
He told THISDAY in Ado Ekiti that though the body backs full deregulation through absolute removal of the corruption-laden petrol subsidy, such a decision could only be enforced when refineries are working at optimal capacity.
He said: “We are making it clear and as directed by our national leadership that we will resist implementation of new pump price regime, if our refineries are still moribund.”
Olatunde, who spoke through the union’s Secretary, Eunice Akinyemi, said increasing the pump price to as high as N385 as mulled by the governors would foist on Nigerians dehumanising economic conditions.
Also reacting, the Ebonyi State chapter of the NLC described the proposed new pump price of fuel as a scam and unacceptable.
The Chairman of the state NLC, Ikechukwu Nwafor, told THISDAY that the governors’ proposal was dead on arrival, as labour would mobilise all strategies to scuttle it.
Nwafor said: “We will not only protest on the streets, there are many strategies that NLC will deploy to ensure the proposal is completely scuttled. The new proposal is a scam and not acceptable. We have said it that there is no justification for the past new pump price.”
However, Leonard Noah, who is the factional chairman of the state NLC, recognised by the state government, said he would only implement the directives of the national body.
The Chairman of the NLC in Ondo State, Mr. Sunday Adeleye, told THISDAY that the state NLC was already discussing with the national headquarters, adding that a meeting has been called for tomorrow.
Similarly, the state Chairman of the TUC, Helen Odofun, told THISDAY that any increase in fuel price would affect the economy.
“Nigerians have been impoverished already and any attempt to further make life difficult for them shall be resisted,” she added.
Also, the Chairman of NLC in Abia State, Uchenna Obigwe, condemned the recommendation by the governors.
“It is not the best policy and not in the interest of ordinary Nigerians who are already impoverished by government,” he said, adding that it will lead to astronomical increase in the prices of goods and services.
The Kaduna State Chairman of the NLC, Mr. Ayuba Suleiman, while reacting to the governors’ proposal, told THISDAY that “it is just a proposal and it is not yet approved. The federal government has also come out to say that it does not intend to increase anything.
“The NNPC also said it is only the federal government that can ask them to increase petroleum price not governors. The NLC is going to meet on Tuesday on the matter and a press statement will be issued on the matter. So you have to wait for the statement,” he said.
The Chairman of Edo State Chapter of the NLC, Mr. Sunny Osayande, said the branch would wait for outcome of negotiation between its national secretariat.
“I know our national leadership is tackling the matter with both the federal government on the proposed increase by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF),” he said.
The state Chairman of TUC, Marshal Ohue, said TUC at the national level was handling the issue.
On his part, the Chairman of the NLC in Katsina State, Dr. Hussain Hamisu Yanduna, told THISDAY that the federal government had no intention to increase petrol price to N385 as proposed by the governors.
“Government has said it very clear that they have no intention to increase the price of the petrol,” he said.