By Joan Nwagwu
Abuja – The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has insisted that it would proceed with its planned nationwide protest with effect from Sept. 28 over Federal Government refusal to reverse the hikes in electricity tariff and fuel pump price.
Mr Ayuba Wabba, NLC President, said this while addressing newsmen at the end of the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the NLC on Tuesday in Abuja.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the NLC’s Central Working Committee (CWC) on Sept. 17 had issued a two-weeks ultimatum to the Federal Government to reverse the hike in electricity tariff and pump price of petrol or workers would embarked on a nationwide protest on Sept. 28.
According to Wabba, the NEC after its extensive deliberations, resolved to reject the hike in electricity tariff by almost 100 per cent and also reject the fuel price increased in the name of deregulation.
“This decision, along side other decisions of the government including the increase of VAT by 7.5 per cent, other numerous charged by commercial banks on depositors, without any explanation will further impoverish Nigerian workers and citizenry, including their families.
“Therefore, this is coming in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and this is not only “ill timed’’ but it is also counter productive, ” he said.
He said that NEC also observed that the privatisation process that was done seven years ago had not yielded any positive result and that the entire sector was sold at about N400 billion.
He also noted that the Federal Government within the last four years have injected N1.53 trillion over and above the amount that was used to sell those important assets.
“Therefore, NEC came to the conclusion that the entire privatisation process have failed and the electricity hike, is a continuous process of exploitation of Nigerians,” he said.
Wabba also noted that the issue of the three refineries and increase in the pump price of petroleum had been on constant debate for more than three decades and that the arguments were still the same.
According to him, this is whether it is in the name of deregulation or subsidiary removal, what is obvious is that the fuel price hike has further eroded the gains of the N30, 000 National Minimum Wage, as it has spiral effects.
“The spiral effects include, high cost of goods and services and reductions in the purchasing power of ordinary Nigerians.
“NEC thought that on the issue of deregulation, it will be a continuous exploitation if it is imported driven. While demanding that our three refineries should be made to work optimally, and then it will be beneficial to Nigerians. ” he said.
The NLC president also said that NEC also concluded that “government has no business in doing business.”
He said that the primary purpose of governance was about the security and welfare of the Nigerian people.
He further called on the Federal Government to maintain refineries in the country for the benefits of its citizenry.
“In the light of all of this, NEC decided to endorsed the two- weeks ultimatum given to the Federal Government to try to reverse those obnoxious decisions and also pronounced that the action proposed by the CWC is hereby endorsed by the NEC.
“That Sept. 28 will be a date that those actions will be challenged by Nigerian workers, our civil society allies and also other Labour centres,” he said. (NAN)