Labour, Buhari Govt Set To Lock Horns Over Fuel Subsidy Removal

2 years ago
2 mins read

Labour leaders appear set to slug it out with the Buhari government over the decision to remove subsidy on petrol.

Federal Government’s pronouncement  that it might end the subsidy regime in June this year has continued to  generate mixed reactions from different quarters with some supporting and others opposing it.

The Trade Union Congress (TUC), during its National Executive Council meeting on Saturday, insisted that  the Federal Government must fulfill certain conditions before removing  fuel subsidy in order to mitigate the negative impact on Nigerians.

One of such conditions as stated in the TUC communique signed by its President, Quadri Olaleye and Secretary-General Musa-Lawal Ozigi, is that the government should ensure that local refineries are fully operational and  encourage building of modular refineries to boost domestic production of petroleum products before implementing subsidy removal.

The TUC also said the government should ensure adequate border security to curb the rate of smuggling of petroleum products out of the country which also contributes to shortage in domestic supply.

The congress harped on the current “worrisome economic situation and the rising cost of living in the country”, and therefore, called on both the federal and state governments to work towards ensuring the development of infrastructure and tackling food crisis.

“The Proposal by National Council of State on the final removal of subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) as from June 2022 should take into consideration the attendant economic impact on the masses.

“There must be assurances that refineries are fully overhauled and establishment of modular refineries encouraged,” TUC stated.

The congress further directed its state chapters to prepare to embark on industrial actions if the government fail to fulfill the conditions it listed before going ahead to end the subsidy programme.

The Nigerian Governors’ Forum had during it’s first meeting of the year 2022 held on Wednesday January 19, resolved to engage labour leaders with a view to seeking their understanding and acceptance of the government’s decision on subsidy removal.  The NGF argued that the Petroleum Industry Act which was passed into law in August last year grants full deregulation of the downstream sector and gives Nigeria National Petroleum Company (NNPC) the responsibility to go ahead with it.

READ ALSO: Fuel Subsidy Removal: Governors To Engage Labour Leaders For Compromise

Apart from TUC, other labour organisations are spoiling for a showdown with the government over the proposed subsidy removal. For instance, the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), reportedly hinted that it has begun mobilising it’s members  to oppose it. The ASCSN National President, Dr Tommy Okon listed some of the challenges faced by the citizens such as non implementation of the N30,000 minimum wage, epileptic power supply, no pipe-borne water supply, poor public transportation system and general rising cost of things.

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) had in December threatened to go on nationwide protest if government goes ahead to remove subsidies, pointing out that the action would expose Nigerians to acute deprivation, hardship and suffering.

The brewing crisis between the current government and labour organisations has some political implications as 2023 presidential elections draw closer. In the life of this APC-led federal government, Lagos State hardly disagreed with Buhari’s policy however unpopular.

From Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Lagos had often lent open support to the centre. But since Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s interest in the 2023 presidency became active, signs of friction between the federal government and Lagos State have begun to show.

The Magodo Estate incident and Sanwo-Olu’s verbal disagreement with a senior federal police officer in Lagos is an example. This fuel subsidy removal row might become another opportunity to make Lagos appear to be on the side of the people. Experts believe that Lagos politicians could take advantage of it to score good political points ahead of the APC primaries on February 26.


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