Petrol subsidy removal would have set Nigeria on fire—NLC

Abuja—Labour unions have described the federal government’s decision to suspend the removal of petrol subsidy as the “best option”.

The federal government had earlier planned to stop subsidy payments on petroleum products from July — but on Monday, a postponement was announced due to “high inflation and economic hardship”.

Subsidy or under-recovery is the underpriced sales of premium motor spirit (PMS), better known as petrol.

According to TheCable, commenting on the development, Benson Upah, head of information, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), said the union is glad that the government “has seen the light and decided to do the right thing”.

He said the removal of petrol subsidy “would have set the country on fire”.

“There would have been an instantaneous reaction. Of course, we would have been glad to coordinate those reactions,” he said.

“But happily, they have begun to see the light. Our advice would be that they should take a lesson from the document we gave them on the so-called fuel subsidy removal.

“The answer cannot be far from domestic production.”

Upah said the decision would reduce the corruption in the system while he called on the government to fix the existing refineries or build new ones instead of importing refined petroleum products.

Similarly, Nuhu Toro, secretary-general of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), described the government’s decision as a good move.

“Though it’s coming late but the federal government’s decision to suspend the move to remove fuel subsidy has alluded to the fact that such harsh economic policy ought to have been a product of social dialogue which was not done,” he said.

“We told Nigerians earlier on that the policy is ill-timed and is not acceptable. So it is good that the government has done a U-turn because the policy cannot be forced down our throat.”

He added that refurbishing the existing refineries and production of petroleum products in Nigeria is in the best interest of the country.

“First, it would create jobs, make the petroleum products available for consumption and probably reduce the price of the products,” Toro said.

“It will also guarantee foreign direct investment and make Nigeria a better place.

“We are confused that our refineries are not working and we have asked over time, why are the refineries not working.

“So there is a strong need for a deliberate effort by the incoming government to ensure that our refineries work.

“All the monies they claim go to the process of deregulation can actually be utilised to make our refineries functional.”

He urged the incoming government to leverage social dialogue on issues that affect Nigerians, adding that the voices and interests of Nigerians should be accommodated.

“Policies should not just be drafted overnight and pushed through people’s throats. Nigeria belongs to all of us,” he said.

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