By Rita Esegine
The National President of Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN), Comrade Biobelemoye Josiah, has described “a doomsday prophecies”, the move by the Federal government to privatise some public health facilities in the country.
Speaking at the 48th National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of in Abuja, Comrade Josiah, went on to vow that his union would use every available means to resist the move.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), at the MHWUN NEC lashed at Federal government over its policy on fuel importation, reiterating its readiness to shutdown economic activities in the country should the APC-led government insist on increasing price of PMS without due consideration.
NLC also called on the Federal Ministry of Health to ensure that the amount agreed on the consolidated health salary structure is captured in the 2022 budget to avoid another round of industrial action in the health sector next year.
President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba, also warned political leaders not to neglect governance in preparation for the 2023 general elections.
He called on Nigerians to be ready to fully mobilise and vehemently reject Federal Government’s unfriendly policies by all means if they are implemented in 2022 as proposed.
“NLC has remained very consistent in its position about the issue of what we call subsidy. The position of NLC is that Nigeria has no reason to continue to import refined products for domestic use particularly PMS because we’ve also found out that we are the only member country of OPEC that is doing that.
“It’s an imposed policy on Nigeria, and our leaders must find a way and means to actually get us out of that imposition. We have made this point very clear that because of the devalued value of our currency, it then means that the policy of importation will continue to have a negative impact on consumers.
“We have seen that with kerosene, we have seen that also with diesel which our government has claimed that they’ve been fully deregulated, but the price has never been at the reach of ordinary Nigerians. Even the cooking gas, people are now using firewood.
“So, the position of NLC remains very consistent that we’ll be against any policy of removing subsidies in the name of deregulation if it is based on importation. And we’ve said so that we export our jobs, and yet our refineries remain under lock and key. It’s a patriotic position that many Nigerians have supported,” the labour leader said.
Wabba also disclosed that the Labour movement will converge today (Thursday) to review many pronouncements made by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and the Federal Government through the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed on fuel subsidy.
He also warned the government not to transfer its inefficiency to the Nigerian people by inflicting more pains on the masses in 2022, saying N5,000 palliative policy is not sustainable.
According to him, “That remains the official position of NLC. But we are going to meet tomorrow and next tomorrow at the level of the National Executive Council (NEC) to also review some of the pronouncements that have been made by the IMF, by the World Bank and, even by the Nigeria government through the Minister of Finance.
“There will be an official position of the NLC National Executive Council, which is composed of all our State Councils, Presidents and General Secretaries of our 49 affiliates.
“There will be an official statement and actions that will be line up to try to do proper engagement in order to make sure that they don’t impose this policy on Nigerians.
“Today, the cost of goods and services have gone very spiral. Not too many families can have more than one meal on their table per day, therefore, increasing the price of this important commodity which will affect the life of every family.
“It’s not only the 40 million we’re talking about because, whether you like it or not, directly or indirectly, every Nigerian will feel the impact. It’s either you have a car or you use commercial transport or you use a small generator which we call ‘I pass my neighbour’ or you use a small grinding machine.
“There are many factors that have not been considered. As I speak, in 49 countries around the world, energy is still subsidized. So, our own is about making the process transparent, which shall be part of the programme.
“So, instead of making the process very transparent, the policy of the government is about transferring the inefficiency to the Nigerian people, and to continue to pay for the inefficiency which I think is not correct.
“It’s still a misery that despite the fact that diesel and kerosene have been deregulated, the price has never come down even when the price of crude oil at the international market was almost at zero dollar, the price never came back, Nigerians must realize that.
“Market forces are actually for profit and therefore it is not for serving the people. We must realize all of these. Also, in the context of argument, we must also try to compare apples with apples because I saw some of the comparisons, where we are comparing Nigeria with many countries, without looking at what GDP is.
“Per capita income of many of those people we’re comparing with, where subsidy has been removed, they have many means of transportation and the impact could not be felt but in the context of Nigeria, whether you like it or not, the impact will be felt by every family.”