The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), President, Mr. Joe Ajaero, has threatened to call out his supporters from Wednesday should the federal government fail to cancel the fuel price before midnight Tuesday.
The NLC president has asked the government to convoke a meeting of all stakeholders, including leadership of industrial unions in the oil and gas sector after returning to the old fuel price.
“Where the government fails to heed these calls and correct itself, we shall be forced to call out Nigerian workers and masses in the streets to shut the critical sectors of this economy down as long as it shall take to force this government to subject itself to the desires of the people,” Ajaero told reporters at a briefing in Lagos.
The NLC factional president said the fuel price hike came as a rude shock, pointing out that it was a paradox that government was talking about deregulation yet it went ahead to fix pump price at N145.
He said the action was “totally anti-masses and wired against the poor.”
Government, he added, has “allowed the exchange rate to deteriorate to N365 to the US dollar; has introduced stamp duty on deposit in banks; has pronounced a 100 per cent increase in VAT; has banned the importation of ‘I better pass my neighbour’ generators which serves mainly the poor
On the way forward, Ajaero said: “We all agreed with the government that the pathway is for the refineries to come on stream so that domestic consumption will be satisfied internally and importation of products stopped completely.
“This, we believe, will allow Nigerians pay a more realistic and reasonable price for the product and assist the nation maintain most of its macro-economic variables in a positive way.”
Ajaero said it was “disdainful and totally contemptuous on the part of the government against Nigerian workers and people” to unilaterally hike price of petrol without wide consultation.
“The government chose an increase of N58.50 which is N42.50 more than what it had earlier told Nigerians was the cost of subsidy per litre of PMS.
“It is unconscionable for a government that ought to have the interest of the people at heart to now seek to grind out a profit margin this huge from this same people according to its own calculations. We have come to the conclusion that this government has totally disconnected itself from the people.
“Nigerians should ask this simple question: why has the government found it very difficult to refurbish the existing refineries and bring them to full capacity, or build new refineries to make us self-sufficient in petroleum products? Simple! It creates opportunities for the ruling elite to continue extorting money from hapless citizens.”
Ajaero said the government should return to the status quo ante bellum, and then sit and discuss with workers’ unions and other stakeholders on the way forward.
He faulted Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, for saying that more people were free to import fuel rather than saying that more people could refine petrol locally.
“It is paradoxical that government is talking about deregulation yet it is fixing prices. What exactly does it want to do, or has Ibe Kachikwu become ‘market force’?”