The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has said that it’s position regarding the removal of subsidy on the most widely used crude oil product, fuel, has not change, rather it is only being amplified.
NLC in press statement signed by its President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, and made available to journalists in Abuja on Saturday, also hinted the Labour Party and Organized Labour in Nigeria adopted and mainstreamed the Workers Charter of Demands into the Manifesto of the Labour Party, therefore has a unified position regarding the removal of fuel subsidy.
The statement was a direct response to the Minister of State for Labour and Employment and the Campaign Spokesperson of the Presidential Campaign of All Progressive Congress (APC), Festus Keyamo, who had asked the Organised Labour to tell Nigerians their position on the removal of fuel subsidy considering their support to Mr Peter Obi, the Labour Party Presidential candidate.
“The attention of the Nigeria Labour Congress has been drawn to a media statement by Olorogun Festus Keyamo, the Honourable Minister of State for Labour and Employment and the Campaign Spokesperson of the Presidential Campaign of All Progressive Congress (APC). In the statement, the APC challenged the Nigeria Labour Congress over its seemingly support for the position of the Labour Party Presidential Candidate, Mr. Peter Obi on the heated issue of the removal of petrol subsidies.
“First, we wish to commend the Honourable Minister of State for responding positively to earlier calls by the Nigeria Labour Congress that political parties must focus their engagement on the current electoral cycle campaigns on issues-based politics. We believe that an issues-based campaign will help sieve the facts from fiction, address burning national issues, review the performance of those in government at all levels especially on the delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals, improve Nigeria’s public accountability frameworks, prepare voters behaviour on Election Day away from the destructive lines of ethno-religious divide and defuse the looming political tension.
“Second, in furtherance of the avowed position of the Nigeria Labour Congress on issues-based campaign in the run up to the 2023 general election, we wish to state that Nigerian workers through a number of painstaking processes have been able to articulate a Nigerian Workers’ Charter of Demands which the NLC and TUC are using to engage the political process.
“A major demand in the Nigerian Workers Charter of Demands is that our local public refineries must work. We have also demanded that we must stop 100% importation of refined petroleum products. The NLC and indeed the Labour movement in Nigeria has over many decades been vehemently consistent that the only way to address the issue of the so-called petrol subsidies is to get our refineries to work. The logic is very simple: it is atrocious to buy from abroad at very expensive prices a product that a country like ours can easily produce at home.
“At the heart of our demand on the management of Nigeria’s mineral resources especially our downstream petroleum sub- sector is the issue of Production Economy. We believe that the rescue of Nigeria from the current ruinous path of Consumption Economy to Production Economy is the only way to resolve Nigeria’s economic nightmares of massive depletion of scarce foreign exchange reserve; continuous devaluation of the Naira; significant jobs haemorrhage and destruction, deepening of poverty and downturn in the living standards of our people.
“In a determined effort to popularise the positions in the Nigerian Workers Charter of Demands, the NLC and TUC at the behest of the Labour Party on September 12 – 13, 2022 hosted a National Retreat of the leadership cadres in our movement.
“At the retreat, the Labour Party and Organized Labour in Nigeria adopted and mainstreamed the Workers Charter of Demands into the Manifesto of the Labour Party. This is in line with our persuasion that issue-based campaign anchored on the manifesto of political parties should drive Nigeria’s political process.
“If any political party goes around saying that they plan to sell our refineries, remove subsidies, and further oppress long-suffering Nigerians, they should be ready to defend such stance to Nigerians at the campaigns. The NLC, Organized Labour, and Labour Party position has not changed. It only got amplified!” NLC President, said.
Also speaking on the Organised Labour position on fuel subsidy, the National President of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, Dr. Tommy Etim Okon, said; “What we are against is not providing the enabling environment that is conducive for the removal of fuel subsidy. Also, we are not sure there is a subsidy. We need to be convinced that fuel subsidy is not a scam. This APC that is talking now once told us there was nothing like subsidy until to get into power and they played us the game. If you say there is subsidy and you are removing it, what mechanism are you putting in place to cushion the effect of the removal on workers and Nigerians at large.
“Again, government must come out and tell us what exactly is the fuel subsidy. When government in clear terms tell Nigerians what the subsidy really is, then we first talk about creating an enabling environment before the issue of removing the said subsidy. It is not going to be a one man show, we the stakeholders must sit at a table to agree on what will favour the citizens.
“We have been deceived for so long on this issue of subsidy especially by the current government. So until we interrogate and ascertain the truth concerning the so called fuel subsidy, we will not agree for anybody to wake up one day and said he had removed what we are not sure exists in the first place. So government must come clean on this.”
On his part, the Chairman of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) Political Commission, Comrade (Dr.) Ayo Olorunfemi, said; “What the Organised Labour is saying is that we don’t need subsidy when we start producing fuel and other crude products in Nigeria. What Peter Obi is saying is to start a production process that will not require anything else called fuel subsidy. When you produce fuel in our country, do we need subsidy?
“In any case whatever the so called fuel subsidy is, Labour Party government will examine holistically whatever the situation is and tell Nigerians the truth about it.
“Under this government, have they not removed the said subsidy three times. Why are they seeking the position of the Organised Labour now when they have unilaterally removed it first, second and third time under different names.
“Because APC government failed to fulfill their promise of making Nigerian refineries work, that is why we are suffering the fuel price hike today. Because we are not refining our crude here in our country, that is why they are engaging in the fraud called fuel subsidy.
“Vessels carrying our crude are disappearing every day and are being found in many part of the world and this same government has refused to name those that own the companies and vessels, yet they are busy looking for ways to put Nigerians in perpetual hardship. They should not be asking us that question because we don’t believe in anything called subsidy in the first place. It is a scam.”