The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has warned the Federal Government not to hide under the guise of subsidy to punish Nigerians with increase electricity tariff or fuel pump price.
Comrade Joe Ajaero, the Deputy President of NLC, noted that the FG cannot spend N1.5billion on petrol subsidy when it had already declared that there was no more subsidy.
He expressed worry that the FG reported that it is subsidising Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) to the tune of N1.5billion, when the FG had already declared that “there is no subsidy anywhere as far as petroleum price is concerned.”
The NLC leader who spoke to Tribune Newspaper warned that any further increase in prices of petrol would cause a reaction. “Labour is not just reacting for reaction case, if there is increase that will affect Nigerians, Nigerians will react.”
“We should not take the issue of Labour in isolation because as at today if you calculate electricity tariff and prices of petroleum products, you will discover that it is more than minimum wage.”
Speaking further, he stated that the agreement labour had with the FG was to stop subsidy and ensure that all refineries are working. But there are reporting subsidy expenditure and no refinering is working yet.
“I am worried about that statement in the first instance. At the point government had the last increase some few years back it was said that they have removed subsidy. That was at the heat of the challenges we had in the Labour family, they said they have removed subsidy. To turn back now and be talking about subsidy baffles me.
“One stands to wonder what is being subsidised, you produce “garri” in your house and you subsidise it. Those of us who are not reasoning the way they reason have maintained that there is no subsidy anywhere as far as petroleum price is concerned. As far as petroleum products are concern there is no subsidy.
“If they are saying that the freight charges, this and that, they are subsidising, we don’t need freight. We would produce here and use what we need here.
“I think they should be told that there is no subsidy and then if they are subsidising, they should stop subsidy and they should not be moving our crude to refine it abroad. It is as simple as that and these are the agreement we had that all the refineries should work. If all the refineries are working and we don’t have enough and they are buying fuel abroad, we can be talking about all those issues.
“There is no subsidy on this product, there is no subsidy on “garri” we produce here, there is no subsidy on rice we produce here. I think the earlier the better, so nobody should blackmail us, nobody should hide under the guise of subsidy to punish Nigerians further either in terms of electricity tariff or pump prices of petroleum products. That is a clear message.”
Speaking on what the reaction would be should FG increase prices of electricity or fuel; “Labour is not just reacting for reaction case, if there is increase that will affect Nigerians, Nigerians will react. We should not take the issue of Labour in isolation because as at today.
“If you calculate electricity tariff and prices of petroleum products, you will discover that it is more than minimum wage. To an extent, Labour earn wages but there are millions of Nigerians that don’t earn wages. Even if they look at the indices they considered before factoring in these price increases, they forget the politician factor. They forget that you can increase and they may not pay, not because they don’t want to pay but because they can pay. When they can pay, they would resist it.
“They forget the fact that if they increase the pump price of petroleum products and people would not pay, and when people would not pay, the marketers would not sell and when marketers do not sell the country becomes standstill, and when country become standstill, they have nobody to govern. I think they should factor in political influence and then the country can move ahead.”
Ibrahim Kenneth Suleiman is the Chief Political Editor at Naija Buzz News Network. He is a graduate of political science from the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Kaduna State. He specializes in preparing/approving of political news contents before publication. He currently heads Naija Buzz News team of political correspondents. From Nasarawa State, North-Central Nigeria, Ibrahim is a strong supporter of Manchester United Football Club England.