Tinubu risks first face-off with Nigerian workers over fuel pump price

The newly sworn-in Nigeria’s 16th President Bola Tinubu is now at the risk of experiencing his first face-off with the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), following sudden increase of fuel pump price from N198 to N500 per litre

Penpushing reports that the Nigerian workers after a meeting with the government officials which ended in deadlock declared that the increase of the pump price was an ambush against Nigerians, and runs against the spirit and principles of social dialogue.

The Nigeria Labour Congress(NLC), however, at a meeting held State House in Abuja and was attended by the head of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPCL), Mele Kyari; a presidential aide, Dele Alake, the president of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Festus Osifo, and other officials insisted on the reversal of the price increase.

Penpushing further reports that the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) faulted the move by the Nigerian government, adding that the removal of subsidy or fixing of the price should be done after adequate consultation.

“We are worried that the government through the NNPC despite the ongoing meeting of stakeholders in the oil and gas sector to manage the unilateral but unfortunate announcement by the President to withdraw subsidy on petroleum products, went ahead this morning to announce a new regime of prices under a new pricing template,” the labour union said.

“This is an ambush and runs against the spirit and principles of social dialogue which remains the best platform available for the resolution of all the issues arising out of the petroleum downstream sector’, the workers emphasised.

“Government cannot in one breathe be talking about deregulation and at the same time fixing the prices of Petroleum products. This negates the spirit of allowing the operation of the free market unless the government has as usual usurped, captured or become Market forces.”

Penpushing also reports that the leadership of the labour congress called on the government to immediately instruct the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPCL) to withdraw the template to give room for dialogues between the government and labour leaders.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPCL) it is recalled had on Wednesday directed its outlets nationwide to sell fuel between N480 and N570 per litre; an almost 200 per cent increase from the initial price of below N200.

Penpushing reports that the Chief Corporate Communications Officer of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPCL) Ltd, Garba Deen Muhammad, declared that the price adjustment was made in line with market realities.

The spokesperson of the Bola Tinubu campaign,Dele Alake speaking at the end of the meeting  said that both parties have been deliberating on finding very amicable solutions to the issue at hand, adding that there has been cross-fertilized ideas

‘We had a very robust engagement. We cross-fertilized ideas, ideas flew from all sides and there is one thing that is remarkable even from the Labour side, and that is Nigeria. We are all looking at the peace, progress and stability of Nigeria. That is what is paramount”, he stated

Penpushing further reports that Alake explained that the talks are ongoing and it is better for all sides to keep talking with a view to arriving at a very amicable resolution that will be in the longer-term interest of all Nigerians.

The Trade Union Congress (TUC) President, Festus Osifo, was however, of contrary views on Alake’s explanation, as he lamented that there had been no communication between the Nigerian government and labour leaders.

‘If you listen to the president during the inauguration at eagles square, he said one of the hallmarks of this administration is going to be dialogue, is going to be consultation, that they are not going to lord it over us’, he said.

‘I’m trying to paraphrase what he said, that he is not going to be a dictator. And what has happened in terms of day has not shown what was written in his address. So, all we said before now was that we ought to have sat down, have this conversation before anything could have happened”, Osifo added

Penpushing also reports that the Trade Union Congress(TUC) leader pointed out that labour leaders have been open to conversations but no such communication existed, nor formal engagements and meetings

‘So, there was no conversation whatsoever, so for over a year, there wasn’t formal engagements and formal meetings. And because there wasn’t formal engagements and formal meetings that is why we found ourselves in this’, he said.

‘If we have met before now, we would have proposed a lot of things. We have experts in our midsts who could have proffered some solutions, even the CNG how it could have been done faster. Because our own is, how do we protect the Nigerian people and the workforce?’

‘So, it’s not about grandstanding but it’s about how do we protect the workforce. Clearly, we have stated in our meeting today, let the statuesque ante remains, while we go back and have conversations with our principal, because the workers are our principal then we will reconvene for their discussion. But we hope that they will revert to the statuesque ante”.

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