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NLC absent as FG meets with TUC over petrol subsidy

NLC absent as FG meets with TUC over petrol subsidy
June 04
16:16 2023

A federal government delegation on Sunday met with representatives of organised labour at the presidential villa, Abuja, over the removal of subsidy on petrol.

The meeting took place five days after an initial parley with the new government ended in deadlock.

Representatives of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) were present at the meeting but the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) delegation was absent.

During his inauguration speech on May 29, President Bola Tinubu said “petrol subsidy is gone”.

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The president’s pronouncement immediately led to a resurfacing of queues at petrol stations and a hike in the pump price of the product across the country.

NLC President Joe Ajaero and his TUC counterpart, Festus Osifo, had said the government must return to the old price of petrol or workers will embark on a nationwide strike billed to commence next Wednesday.

The National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) had in a memo dated June 2, and signed by its general secretary, Dominic Igwebike, also announced that its members will join the strike.

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Federal government representatives at the last meeting included Dele Alake, spokesperson for the government’s delegation; group CEO of NNPCL Mele Kyari; governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Godwin Emefiele; and Adams Oshiomhole, former governor of Edo state.

MEETING ONGOING

Initiated by the federal government, Sunday’s meeting began around 5pm, with the effects of petrol subsidy removal on the agenda.

George Akume, secretary to the government of the federation (SGF); Zacch Adedeji, executive secretary of the National Sugar Development Council (NSDC); and Yemi Adetunji, executive vice president, downstream, of the NNPCL, were in attendance.

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On the TUC side were seven members led by the organisation’s president Osifo.

The NLC had on May 31 said the new pricing template “is vexatious and an ambush”.

“We are worried that the government through the NNPCL 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.

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“Government cannot in one breath 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.

“It is therefore unacceptable and we seriously condemn it. Good faith negotiation is key to reaching agreement. What the government has done is like holding a gun to the head of the Nigerian people and bringing undue pressure on the leaders thus undermining the dialogue.

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“We call on the federal government to immediately instruct the NNPCL to withdraw this vexatious pricing template to allow free flow of discussions by the parties.”


Editor’s note: This report has been updated to reflect that NLC was not present at the meeting.

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