–Accuses FG of insensitivity to acute hardship experienced by Nigerians
—Plans nationwide protest rally Jan 27, 2022
–-Kicks against the introduction of excise duties on carbonated drinks
—Calls for free education at the JSS level
—FG divided over subsidy
The organized labour for the umpteenth time warned the Federal Government to perish the idea of petrol subsidy removal and increase in the petroleum pump price, saying that labour will resist and reject any decision of the government that would inflict more hardships on the people.
Already, the organised labour has directed all its 36 branches and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja to mobilize their members for a nationwide protest rally if the government should go ahead with the planned increase of petrol.
It also threatened that it would not give the government any notice should it go-ahead to remove the fuel subsidy before the January 27, 2022 protest rally date.
These decisions among others were reached at the end of the National Executive Council, NEC meeting of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, on Friday in Abuja.
This is as Saturday Vanguard has gathered that some members of the Federal Executive Council, FEC, have frowned at the decision to remove fuel subsidy when the committee comprising the government and organized labour has not completed its assignment.
In a communique signed by the President of the NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, and the General Secretary, Comrade Emma Ugbaja, the organized labour kicked against the plan by the government through the National Assembly and the Nigerian Customs Service to introduce excise duties on carbonated drinks manufactured in Nigeria.
NLC in the communique also advised the government to make education from primary to junior secondary school free for every Nigerian child.
According to the communique, the NEC at the meeting “considered recommendations made to it by the Central Working Committee. Among the recommendations discussed by the NEC included the State of the Nation especially plans by the Federal Government to increase the pump price of petrol in 2022, the soaring inflation of the prices of basic commodities and services, the increasing siege of insecurity in Nigeria, the unrelenting push by the Federal Government to privatize and concession many public assets cum enterprises, the demand on Mr President to sign the 2021 Electoral Act Amendment Bill into law and the continued refusal of some State Governors to implement the National Minimum Wage and also the failure of some employers in the public sector to pay the gratuity of retired workers and remit their pension contributions as when due.”
On the plans to increase the pump price of petrol, the NEC considered: “That an increase in the pump price of the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) also known as ‘petrol’ by the government will expose Nigerian workers and the generality of the citizenry to acute deprivation, hardship and suffering as it would worsen the already established trend of hyperinflation in the country;
“That the genesis of the crisis in Nigeria’s downstream petroleum sub-sector especially as it relates to the petrol pump price regime could be linked to a Policy of Importation Based Pricing Template for Refined Petroleum Products as against Local Production Based Pricing Template;
“That as long as the pricing of refined petroleum products is based on Importation Pricing Template which is heavily dependent on a volatile foreign exchange rate heavily skewed against the Naira, the price of petrol and other refined petroleum products will continue to rise beyond the reach of average Nigerian workers and citizens; and
“That the foregoing informed the traditional position of the Congress to reject an incessant increase in the pump price of petrol which is usually disguised as deregulation or removal of fuel subsidy.
“The NEC, therefore, condemned plans by the Federal Government to increase the pump price of petrol.
“The NEC, therefore, resolved “to reject and resist the planned increase in the pump price of petrol by the Federal Government as it described it as extremely insensitive to the acute hardship being experienced by Nigerian workers and people;
“That Government should promote the local capacity to refine petroleum products for domestic use;
“Pursuant to its rejection and resistance of further increase in the price of petrol, to organize Protest Rallies in all the 36 States of the Federation on 27th January 2022 which would culminate in the submission of protest letters to all the 36 State Governors. Subsequently, a National Protest will take place on 1st February 2022 in Abuja; and
“In case the government decides to announce new petrol prices before the proposed protests, the protest will kick off instantly and without any other further notice in every state of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory.”
On soaring inflation of basic commodities and services, the
NEC observed the trend of hyper-inflation in the prices of basic goods and services especially essential commodities including cooking gas and building materials such as cement.
“The NEC resolved “That government should adopt effective economic policies to halt the inflationary trend as it presents additional pressure on the lean income of Nigerian workers and other citizens and has made life terribly unbearable for the poor masses of our country.”
On insecurity, the NEC reasoned: that the crises of insecurity in Nigeria have continued to deteriorate since its last meeting; and that the parlous state of insecurity apart from scaring away potential local and foreign investors from the Nigerian economy has also unleashed an unquantifiable social dislocation and crisis in the country including food insecurity, widespread hunger and mass destitution.
“The NEC, in light of the foregoing, resolved that “The Federal Government should consider the recommendations and policy initiatives gleaned from the NLC National Summit on Peace and Security and National Roundtable on Social Protection Cover in developing a National Plan of Action against Insecurity in Nigeria; and
“The Federal Government should adopt a multi-stakeholder approach and innovative non-kinetic intervention model towards achieving a sustainable solution to the crises of insecurity in Nigeria.”
On the plans by the National Assembly and Nigeria Customs Service to introduce excise duties on carbonated drinks manufactured in Nigeria;, the NEC contended that such plans will only exacerbate the prevailing hyper-inflation of essential goods especially food consumables, lead to a decline in sales, job losses in the food sub-sector and increased hardship for ordinary Nigerians.
It also said that the plans for the privatization of Nigeria’s railways, public healthcare facilities and concession of Nigeria’s major international airports.
It resolved “That the executive arm of government at the federal level and the National Assembly should work together with Organized Labour and manufacturers in the sub-sector for a win-win solution;
“That plans to privatize and concession prime national assets would be tantamount to ‘State Capture’ of the commonwealth. The NEC urged government and promoters of the privatization and concession plans to learn from the misadventure of the power sector privatization which instead of improving the lives of the ordinary Nigerian have increased the level of suffering and hardship faced by the Nigerian masses.”
It also rejected the concession of Nigeria’s four major airports and the privatization of Nigeria’s prime national assets including the Transmission Company of Nigeria and other assets billed through legislative actions for privatization.
The NEC considered: The current push for broader electoral reform especially with respect to recent demands by the Congress for President Muhammadu Buhari to sign into law the 2021 Electoral Act Amendment Bill passed by the National Assembly.
It said, “The CWC considers the provisions in the 2021 Electoral Act Amendment Bill especially the provisions for electronic voting and direct political party primaries as progressive and capable of delivering inclusive, transparent and credible elections in Nigeria.
“The NEC, therefore, resolved to call on President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the 2021 Electoral Act Amendment Bill into law particularly given that he has less than 2 days to sign the bill into law; and
“To call for even broader and deeper electoral reform including the establishment of Electoral Offences Commission, the democratization of the appointment of the national leadership of the INEC, the adoption of Proportional Representation in our laws and Diaspora Voting.”
On its charter of demands, the NEC adopted the Charter of demands by Nigerian Workers which core thrusts include the demands for basic social, economic and political rights that fulfil the ideals of citizenship, improve a lot of the working class and actualize the dream of nationhood. Actualizing the thrusts of the Charter would facilitate the conferring of decency and dignity to the average Nigerian worker and citizen in line with the provisions of Chapter 2 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution:
Guarantee of quality and affordable healthcare as a fundamental right of every Nigerian and a core justiciable responsibility of the State. Provisions to be made for the attainment of Universal Health Coverage for every Nigerian.
Free and quality primary-junior secondary education. Well-rounded and affordable public senior secondary and tertiary education. Free technical and vocational training for Nigerian youths desirous for a career in artisanal trade.
Efficient, responsible and sustainable, extraction, refining, processing and marketing of all of Nigeria’s natural resources in ways that maximize value chain potentials, enhance technological development and foster inclusive growth.
“Government should ensure the creation of an enabling environment for the development of a robust local economy, stable Naira, and industrialization for creation of mass jobs.
“Guarantee of the right to life, physical safety and welfare of every Nigerian must be undertaken as the primary responsibility of government. must be protected at all times.
“Promotion of effective social protection cover for Nigerian workers and vulnerable segments of the population especially the poorest of the poor, the youth, the disabled, women and other vulnerable groups in our country.”
It also resolved that Congress would convene a National Retreat for its Leadership on Engagement with Partisan Politics in the third week of January 2022 in Abuja.