The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has prepared its state councils and affiliate unions for a showdown with the Federal Government over the impending removal of the fuel subsidy.
The General Secretary of the NLC, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, made this known in a statement on Tuesday, saying that the NLC was determined to fight the surreptitious removal of the fuel subsidy.
He said a meeting of the National Executive Committee of the congress would be convened in January.
He did not give the specific date for the NEC meeting.
The NLC’s scribe wondered why opposition politicians who encouraged the mass action against the former administration to remove the fuel subsidy were now agitating for its removal.
Ozo-Eson argued that the removal of the fuel subsidy without the capacity to refine crude oil for local consumption would unleash hardship on workers and indeed the average Nigerian.
He said the different pump prices for fuel recently announced by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Mr. Ibe Kachikwi, were meant to confuse Nigerians to remove the fuel subsidy.
“In the past few weeks, we have heard discordant tunes from government officials and chieftains of the ruling APC on what the future portends for the prices of petroleum products and the management of the subsidy scheme.
“Party chieftains who supported and encouraged the massive protests against subsidy removal in 2012 are now preaching the inevitability of subsidy removal! The Honourable Minister of State for Petroleum first announced that come next year the price of petrol will revert to ₦97 per litre and that subsidy will be phased out.
“Two days, thereafter, he denied this and stated that what he said was that the price will operate within a band of ₦87 to ₦97 and that this did not mean removing the subsidy. The same minister now says that the price of petrol will now be ₦85 in January signifying the deregulation of the sector.
“These vacillations and flip flops are, in our view, designed to confuse Nigerians and pave the way for deregulation of petrol prices through the back door. The fact of the matter is that as long as we continue to depend on imported refined products, deregulation and the abandonment of a subsidy scheme will unleash hardship on Nigerians. ..
“In the meantime, we wish to restate our opposition, adopted at our Central Working Committee Emergency Meeting of 22nd December, to any attempt by the government to increase the price of or remove subsidy on petrol.
“We reiterate our directive to our State Councils and Industrial Unions to commence the process of mobilisation prior to a meeting of the National Executive Committee to be convened in the New Year.
He said that the fuel pump prices being bandied by the minister were illegal as the board of the Petroleum Products Price Regulatory Agency had not been constituted to perform its role for over two years.
He said that the PPPRA was the only government agency empowered by law to recommend the prices of petroleum products in the country.
He stressed that the prices being thrown up by Kachikwu did not emanate from the PPPRA.
He called on the Federal Government to constitute the board of the PPPRA to empower the agency to determine the pump price in line with current realities.