The President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Joe Ajaero, has asked the Bola Tinubu-led Federal Government of Nigeria to withdraw the new petroleum product prices. This was contained in a release issued on 31 May 2023 and made available to AkweyaTV.
“Government cannot in one breath be talking about deregulation and at the same time fixing the prices of Petroleum products,” Comrade Ajaero argued, adding: “This negates the spirit of allowing the operation of the free market unless the government has as usual usurped, captured or become market forces.”
Labour, which has always opposed increments in prices of services in favour of talks, proposed negotiations.
“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.
“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 down-stream sector,” the union said.
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.
The union berated what they equated with holding a gun to the head of Nigerians, saying that was unacceptable. “Good faith negotiation is key to reaching agreement. What the government has done is like holding a gun to the head of Nigerian people and bring undue pressure on the leaders thus undermine the dialogue.
“We call on the federal government to immediately instruct the NNPC to withdraw this vexatious pricing template to allow free flow of discussions by the parties. Nigerians would not accept any manipulations of any kind from any of the parties, especially from the representatives of the Government.”
Restating the Nigeria Labour Congress’s commitment to the discussion and negotiations where “all the parties would be committed to ensuring that it is carried out within the ambits of liberty without undue pressure.”
The union further threatened to withdraw from the process of negotiations if prices do not revert to the previous levels. According to Ajaero: “The release of that template may not allow us to continue if nothing is done to withdraw it so that the dialogue can continue unhindered. It is clear that Government is actually trying to scuttle the process.”
“As it stands,” Labour concluded, “the federal government has become fixated on their chosen course of action. Would this help this dialogue? It clearly will not. There must be flexibility to allow concessions and reasonable accommodation that will produce the best result for Nigerian people. This is what we all seek at this time.”