NLC berates presidential candidates for supporting petrol subsidy removal
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has berated the leading presidential candidates over their plan to remove subsidy on the premium motor spirit (PMS) when they are elected.
In its New Year message, NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, stated that pronouncements made so far by those seeking election for the office of the President have failed to address fundamental issues underpinning the downstream sector.
His words: “Pronouncements by some leading presidential candidates to remove petrol subsidy if elected to office do not address recovery of local refining, affordable refined products, decent jobs, economic expansion, wealth generation, and shared prosperity. The penchant to mouth subsidy removal as a solution to government’s criminal neglect of our public refineries is not only wicked,but also betrays a predilection to lazy quick fixes, surrendering our economy to foreign interests, transfer of government inefficiency on Nigerians, and enslaving our people with poverty and hardship.”
Wabba maintained that the labour movement would stoutly resist this neo-liberal agenda.
He said presidential candidates, who glibly talk of the removal of fuel subsidy, which is just a euphemism for an astronomical hike in petroleum products prices, forget the crises occasioned by the removal of subsidies on diesel and kerosene and how these products have become very scarce and expensive even for the super-rich.
According to him, the recent threat by airline owners to close shop over the unavailability of aviation fuel and its unaffordability is a test case.
Underpinning the destructive effects of the policies of the Bretton Woods institutions on the economic development of the African countries, Wabba submitted thus: “When our irresponsible politicians are not talking of removing petrol subsidy without solutions for local competitive production of petroleum products, they are talking of privatizing state-owned enterprises. Such statements fail to take in the benefit of hindsight.
He insisted that most of the privatised public companies are either lethargic, have closed shop or have been so stripped of core assets that they are not deserving of the pun shop.
NLC was also miffed by the unwillingness of the Federal Government to fulfill promises made to members of the university teaching community, which might cause another fresh industrial action.
“With the benefit of hindsight, it is now clear that government’s commitments which led to the call-off of the industrial action were less than altruistic. Till now, government has refused to pay the arrears of salaries incurred during the strike action despite the commitment by university workers to make up for the time lost during the strike. Also, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment has illegally registered two trade unions in a bid to divide and conquer university unions,” the central labour body stated.
It added that the tragic industrial situation in Nigeria’s universities is symptomatic of the difficulties faced by trade unions in the struggle to improve the working and living conditions of workers and pensioners.
“In the face of soaring inflation, the salaries and pension of Nigerian workers and pensioners have remained stagnant. Amidst the prevailing debilitating conditions, many state governments violate our laws and deny workers the national minimum wage.
Many of the states that were forced to commence the payment of the national minimum wage still owe workers arrears of unpaid national minimum wage and consequential salary adjustments. Slave labour does not describe this evil enough,” it said.