The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, on Tuesday said the decision of the Federal Government to suspend its planned removal of subsidy on the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) also commonly known as ‘petrol’ or ‘fuel’, is a victory for the Nigerian workers and people.
On the 23rd of November 2021, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning at the launch of the World Bank Development Update, disclosed to Nigerians, government’s plans to remove subsidy on the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).
However following widespread agitations and threats of nationwide protests, on Tuesday, the Federal Government formally announced the suspension of the planned removal of subsidy on PMS.
Announcing this at Special Press Conference in Abuja, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, said the decision followed wide consultations and the need to instill measures to cushion the effects of the removal when finally in place.
Mr Sylva said government intends to propose an eighteen months extension period to the National Assembly for the implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act, which was to commence in February and will also continue to engage the organised labour and other stakeholders on the issue.
Reacting to the announcement, the NLC National President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba acknowledged that the policy of removal of petrol subsidy, has become a euphemism for hike in the pump price of petrol.
He noted that the attendant effect of the proposed removal of petrol subsidy would push the pump price of fuel to between N320 and N340 per litre.
According to him, this would have terribly exacerbated the current scourge of inflation in the country, deepened poverty, heightened social tensions and pushed the country and millions of her poor citizens to the very precipice.
“Immediately, the Minister of Finance unveiled government’s plans on petrol price increment, the Nigeria Labour Congress issued a press statement on November 24, 2021, condemning the proposed government policy and warned of the dire consequences that would follow the implementation of the policy.
“The Congress went on to convene national organ meetings to deliberate on the issue.
“After series of statutory organ meetings culminating in a National Executive Council (NEC) meeting which took place on the 17th of December 2021, the Nigeria Labour Congress renewed its traditional position of resisting incessant increases in the pump price of petrol.
“The NEC went ahead to give directives for the mobilization of workers and citizens for national protests, if the Federal Government fails to reverse the planned hike in the pump price of petrol,” he said.
Wabba however noted that it was at the peak of very rigorous mobilization of Nigerians by the Nigeria Labour Congress and a host of her Civil Society allies, that the government through the Minister of Finance yesterday, made a public announcement, reversing the plans to increase petrol pump price.
He revealed that the position of the government was also officially communicated to the Congress with calls for further engagement and following the reversal and re-approach by government, the National Executive Council of the NLC had an emergency virtual meeting on Tuesday, to consider the new position of the government.
“After vigorous debates, the NEC decided to suspend the planned nationwide protest scheduled for 27th January 2022 and the national protest in Abuja scheduled for 2nd February 2022.
“The leadership of the Congress has communicated this organ decision to our civil society allies who have stood stoically behind Nigerian workers in our quest for social and economic justice for workers and the downtrodden people of our country.
“Going forward, we will continue to engage with the government on the very critical issues of ensuring local refining of petroleum, creation of sustainable jobs and provision of petrol at an affordable price for Nigerian workers and people.
“Finally, we commend the Nigerian workers and people particularly our civil society allies for their unwavering solidarity and support during this struggle.
“We sure are stronger together,” he maintained.