NLC debunks Sylva’s claim on oil sector deregulation
NLC, TUC to meet on response to fuel price hike
Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, has faulted the walk out staged by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) negotiation team on the government team over refusal of Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, to allow discussion on the possibility of reversing the new pump price of petrol before addressing other issues.
Sylva, who spoke to reporters after the meeting that held at Aso Villa, Abuja late Sunday, described deregulation as the total removal of government control of the prices of petroleum products, a position, he said, was accepted by the labour team at their September meeting.
But a deputy president of NLC, Joe Ajaero, debunked the minister’s claim.
“How can government give a new definition to deregulation! If the sector has been truly deregulated, why is the price of petrol uniform across the country? In a deregulated environment, the price in Lagos will be different from that of Sokoto or even Calabar. Also, labour did not accept a deregulation that is based on importation. We said government should revitalise the refineries first. That has not been done. All what we requested at the Sunday meeting was a return to status quo ante.
“We cannot agree on some items and the next thing government would do is to increase the price in the middle of a discussion. This was the point we raised when the minister of labour said the meeting was his and so he determines what happens. It was at that point that we left the meeting.”
Another deputy president of NLC, Dr. Nasir Idris, gave the terms and conditions for suspending planned September 28, 2020 protests against fuel price and electricity tariffs increments.
“The conditions include fixing the existing refineries, entrusting them to efficient managements, creating an enabling environment for new refineries, and doing all positive things that would ensure enhanced and sustainable local refining capacity. Furthermore, government/labour committee is to be set up to review the increase in electricity tariff.”
According to Idris, “there is nothing in the agreement that gives government license to embark upon pain-inducing and life-crippling increase in pump price of products at this difficult time.
“Indeed, the letter and spirit of the terms and conditions of the agreement presuppose that contemplation of an increase would constitute a breach of the dialogue process.”
MEANWHILE, the NLC and Trade Union Congress (TUC) are to summon a meeting of their organs next week to decide on what would be their response to the recent hike in the price of petrol in the country.
The Guardian gathered in Abuja, yesterday, that the National Administrative Council (NAC) of the NLC would meet on Friday and may extend discussions on the matter to the Central Working Committee next week. The NAC comprises of elected members of the NLC.
The General Secretary of NLC, Emmanuel Ugboajah, who confirmed the Friday meeting, said it would deliberate, among others, on the issues that led to the walking out of labour’s negotiation team on government team on Sunday night.
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