Increase in fuel price: We'll shutdown economy without notice - NEWS FRONTIER DAILY


Monday, August 14, 2023

Increase in fuel price: We'll shutdown economy without notice

The Organised Labour labour has threatened to shutdown the economy without giving notice to the government if the fuel pump price is increased again.

This is as the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, has raised the alarm over the alleged hijack of the duties of the Ministry of Labour and Employment by the Inspector General of Police, IGP and the Federal Ministry of Justice.

The NLC President, Comrade Joe Ajaero stated this while responding to the advise by the Director, Trade Union Services, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Emmanuel Igbinosun to the effect that labour should explore due process in its agitations before embarking on strike.

Igbinosun gave the advise in his remarks at the ongoing African Trade Union Alliance meeting holding in Abuja.

But responding, the NLC President warned that Nigerians have suffered enough from the policies of the government and will not take lightly any increase of petroleum pump price that would worsen the situation.

He said, "I commend the Director of Trade Union Services for his labour friendly disposition and for finding out time to be here. We need to commend you. But I was feeling uncomfortable when you had legions of advice to the labour movement. In the actual fact, the centrality of your office is to advise government on some of these issues.

"Maybe I will advise my colleagues for us to engage you as Adviser of Labour, adviser of trade union services since you appear to be closer to us than the Nigerian state whom you are employed to come that we should concern ourselves issues of wages, issues of employment relation but you didn't say anything about those issues that depreciate our wage, those policies of government that reduce our wages to nothing. 

"For you, those are exclusive preserve of the Nigerian state to take decisions probably to increase pump price of petroleum product and our wages will be next to nothing, you didn't speak on it and maybe we should concern ourselves with those issues.

"But I want to plead with you that those bad economic policies by the state that make our wages next to nothing should be checked. If you check those policies that lead to inflation and the devaluation of the currency even where we are, we will be comfortable. 

"If naira is at par with dollar today , we as you to leave it at N30, 000, it  will make sense. If inflation is checked to zero, we ask you to leave it where we are but if inflation is flying if even by the admittance of the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics, we have over one hundred and thirty three million Nigerians that are multi dimensionally poor, I think you should address those issues. If we go for even wage increase tomorrow, the inflation that will come up tomorrow will destroy it.

"As we are here now, they are contemplating increasing the pump price of petroleum product and the ministry of Labour for sometime now will only go to ministry of Justice to come up with so-called injunction to hold the hands of Labour not to respond. I didn't want to say some of those things you will not be comfortable with because probably if they ask you to represent them tomorrow, you will not be around.

"But let me say this, Nigerian workers will not give any notice if we have not addressed the consequences of the last two increases and we wake up from our sleep to hear that they have tampered with the prices again. They have started floating ideas of a likely increase in the pump price of petroleum product.

"And lastly, the Inspector General of the Nigerian Police is now performing the duty of the ministry of Labour. The duties of the ministry of Labour includes addressing the issues both inter and intra union disputes, it's not within the purview of the Inspector General of Police to go into that area. And I think that there is the need for the ministry of Labour if you don't want to educate the ministry of Labour to tell them that they don't have the right to usurp your function, if they do that, the ministry of Labour will go into extinction and there will be no basis for the ministry of Labour to remain there. 

"And I say it's illegal, we demand an apology from the IG of Police to have arrested or even contemplated to arrest the President of the National Union of Road Transport Workers for whatever reason, at the eve of an election , it's unheard of in the history of this country and never again should that be entertained. 

"The Nigerian Police are Nigerian workers and will not waste time to match to their office. Let them use the same gun that was bought with workers salaries and tax to now engage us. So I felt I should balance, you have advised us, we have to advise you too. Go and collect your functions from Police and from the Ministry of Justice.

"We can now see that even when there is a dispute, intra or inter, it's your function to refer such to either IAP and in the most instances to NIC, but this doesn't come from you again.

"And as Nigeria Labour Congress that relates with the Ministry of Labour so much, we are afraid that your work is going to extinction. Please I am not sure that there is a routine change of Permanent Secretaries today but your Permanent Secretary has moved, only God knows who will come there and the Minister that will come there. But we are ready to cooperate with you, laugh with you and fight with you at the appropriate time."

Reacting to the NLC threat, the Presidency said that President Tinubu is concerned about the economic hardship in the country and is working hard to ameliorate the situation.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, while responding to the threat said:

"There is no monopoly on the deep empathy that we feel as fellow Nigerians concerning the pain and economic hardship that is currently befalling Nigerian families across the country. The labour union absolutely does represent the interests of the Nigerian workers and our role as a government and particularly His Excellency, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is to endure that every government action is aimed at the most urgent and the most efficient amelioration of those difficult conditions facing our people.

"With respect to energy cost and energy prices, let us very clear that the deregulation of the market means that market conditions that are decided outside of the shores of any one country will detect the price of these commodities. 

"The notion that government is controlling or is leveraging in any way the cost of these commodities in the country is a total misunderstanding of the market dynamics in the Petroleum sector.

"The President will continue to engage in effective and direct dialogue with the labour unions and he is committed to living up to every word and every letter of the agreement made so far and we expect that such agreements are not going to be tied to vagaries of the international petroleum market that Nigeria does not have control over.

"What those negotiations and conditions will be based on is to the extent in which government is living up to its side of the ongoing negotiations that it has entered into with Nigeria Labour movement.

"If the market forces decide the price, it's Nigerians that are bearing the brunt, is there any way the government will intervene to cushion the effect so that the exchange rate will not be going up?

"This is why the administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has been very forthright and open. We have seen the President come out publicly several times, very communicative with Nigerians on what's been done to crash the cost of energy with respect to families and businesses across the country which is why we have been very aggressive in detailing the actionable plans we put in place for CNG.

NNPCL/NIPCO enter pact to build 56 CNG Filling stations 

"As we speak, between the NNPC and the NIPCO there has been an agreement struck for the establishment of 56 new CNG filling stations nationwide, across all states of the federation in two phases to be running between now and April 1, 2024. 

"And then phase two from April 2024 to May 2025. So, these have already been put in place. Aside from that, His Excellency, Mr. President clearly enunciated that One hundred billion naira has been set aside and has now  as of this week been paid out for the provision of over 3,000 CNG fuel buses because we are targeting commercial transportation which is where the bulk of our masses are feeling the pinch with respect to the cost of how they will get from home to business and from business to home on daily basis.

"We believe that with CNG and depending on market conditions running from between N175 per litre to N250 per litre as against PMS running N670 per litre to over N700 per litre depending on where you are buying the commodity that with that savings in the first phase focused in on commercial transport in the country, that we can save the energy cost on millions of Nigerians that are relying on commercial transportation, businesses and systems across all states of the federation.

"This is really the immediate solution even if as we have our short to medium to long term plans on local production of electronic vehicles and solar power charging stations across the country ."

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