Labour to Begin Strike as FG Refuses to Back Down on Petrol Price, Electricity Tariffs
Labour to Embark on Industrial Action to Force FG to Reverse Increase in Petrol Price, Electricity Tariffs
The sudden increase in prices of fuel and electricity tariffs despite the negative impacts of COVID-19 on the Nigerian people has forced the Nigerian labour union once again to announce an industrial action to compel the Federal Government to emulate other economies easing COVID-19 impacts through various palliatives and measures.
Labour union on Tuesday set Monday for what it described as “unprecedented mass action” and “total strike” to get the government to reverse the hike in petrol pump price and the increased electricity tariffs.
At a meeting with members of the National Administrative Council, Presidents and General Secretaries, the Nigeria Labour Congress National Executive Council (NEC) agreed to embark on a total strike against what they described as anti-people policy.
While the ultimatum given to the federal government by Trade Union Congress (TUC) expired on Monday, TUC has extended it till Monday in line with NLC announced industrial action.
NLC President Ayuba Wabba, who read the communique of the meeting, said: “NEC resolved to reject in its entirety the issue of hike in electricity tariffs by almost 100 per cent as well as the fuel price increase in the name of full deregulation.
“This decision is premised on the fact that these twin decisions alongside other decisions of government including the increase of VAT by 7.5 per cent, numerous charges by commercial banks on depositors without any explanations will further impoverish Nigerian workers and citizens.
“Therefore, this increase, coming in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, is not only ill-timed but counter-productive.
“NEC also observed that the privatisation of the electricity sub-sector seven years down the line has not yielded any positive result. Whereas, the entire privatisation process, the entire sector was sold at about N400 billion, we are surprised that government within the last four years injected N1.5 trillion over and above the amount that accrued from this important asset.
“Therefore, NEC came to the conclusion that the entire privatisation process has failed and the electricity hike is actually a process of continuous exploitation of Nigerians.
“On the issue of the refineries and also the increase in the pump price of PMS, this particular issue had been on the table for more than three decades and the argument has not changed.
“Whether it is the name of full deregulation or subsidy removal, what is obvious is that it is fuel price hike and this has further eroded the gains of the N30,000 minimum wage because it has spiral effects which include the high cost of food and services and the reduction in the purchasing power of ordinary Nigerians.
“While demanding that our three refineries should be made to work optimally, NEC also concluded that government has business in doing business because the primary purpose of governance is about the security and welfare of the people and if in other countries, governments are maintaining refineries, and they are working optimally for the benefit of the people, Nigeria cannot be an exception.
“In the light of these, NEC decided to endorse the two-week ultimatum given to the Federal Government to reverse those obnoxious decisions and also pronounce that the action proposed by the Central Working Committee is hereby endorsed by the NEC that 28th of September should be the date that those decisions should be challenged by the Nigerian workers, our civil society allies and other labour centres.”
“We’ll meet. We don’t want anything that will cause more financial pain to workers.”
Speaking on the matter and the reason for industrial action, TUC’s President Quadri Olaleye and Secretary-General Comrade Musa-Lawal Ozigi, urged to Nigerians to get ready for the “unprecedented mass action”.
TUC said it resolved to work with the NLC and civil society allies because of the magnitude of the situation. Hence, it suspended the previously planned strike to join force with NLC and others.
“Consequent upon this, the ultimatum which should expire by midnight of today (yesterday) has been shifted to 28th September 2020 for effective and maximum effect.
“We want to use this opportunity to call on Nigerians, especially those in the informal sector, to bear with us while the industrial action lasts.
“There is no need for the pains we bear. It is a needless one. They ask us to tighten our belts while they loosen theirs. Services are not rendered yet we are compelled to pay estimated bills.
“You will recall that this government during its electioneering campaigns in 2014 told the world there is nothing like subsidy. We were told that they will build refineries. All that is history now.
“We run a mono-economy and any hike in fuel automatically will have an adverse effect on us, yet successive governments tow that path because they are not creative.
“As at today, about eight states are yet to commence the payment of new minimum wage and its consequential adjustment even though the President signed it into law on April 18, 2019. We have written letters to the governors and also engaged them in dialogue but all to no avail. Sometimes we wonder if these people have a conscience at all.
“The Congress hereby appeals to all Nigerians to get ready for the unprecedented mass action against corruption, obnoxious policies, rape and other violent offences, breach of the collective agreement, unemployment, etc.
“We also call on the USA, UK, Germany, Spain, etc to support our struggle by placing indefinite visa ban on our political leaders whose stock in trade is to loot and impoverish the masses and the country. We can no longer take it. Enough is enough!”
Nigeria Spends N16.126 Billion Daily on Petrol Subsidy
Nigeria’s daily consumption of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) commonly known as petrol has risen to 80 million litres, according to the latest data from the Nigerian Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL).
A breakdown of the data showed that 558.83 million litres of petrol were evacuated between March 4 and 10, 2023, translating to an average daily consumption of 79.83 million litres.
In February 2023, the Group Chief Executive, NNPCL, Mele Kyari had put petrol consumption at around 66 million litres of petrol and declared that the corporation was spending about N202 on every litre of PMS consumed across the country.
“Today, by law and the provisions of the Appropriation Act, there is a subsidy on the supply of petroleum products, particularly PMS imports into our country. In current data terms, three days ago, the landing cost was around N315/litre.
“Our customers are here; we are transferring to each of them at N113/litre. That means there is a difference of close to N202 for every litre of PMS we import into this country. In computation, N202 multiplied by 66.5 million litres, multiplied by 30 will give you over N400bn of subsidy every month,” the GCEO had stated.
Therefore, going by Kyari’s estimation that Nigeria spent N202 a litre as a subsidy will put Nigeria’s daily petrol subsidy cost at N16.126 billion and N483.769 billion per month.
However, the national petroleum corporation has been lamenting the huge resource spent on subsidizing fuel when the majority of people benefiting from it are a few criminals smuggling it to neighbouring countries.
NNPCL explained the danger of the continued practice on the corporation’s cash flow, adding that the funding had been ongoing without refunds from the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, despite the fact that subsidy had been budgeted for in the Appropriation Act.
“But there is a budget provision for it (subsidy). Our country has decided to do this. So, we are happy to deliver this, but it is also a drain on our cash flow, and I must emphasize this.
“For as we continue to support this, you will agree with me that it will be extremely challenging for us to continue to fund this from the cash flow of the company when you do not get refunds from the Ministry of Finance,” Kyari had stated in Abuja.
Scarcity of Fuel and Naira Set to Plunge Over 28 Million Nigerians into Crisis
A latest report by Cadre Harmonise has revealed that over 28.4 million Nigerians in 26 states and the Federal Capital Territory are expected to face severe crises between June and August this year due to the scarcity of fuel and naira.
This projection includes 18,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
Cadre Harmonise is a tool developed as an early warning system to prevent and manage food and nutrition crises in Nigeria.
The report was released in Abuja on Thursday, covering 26 states in Nigeria. It was also stated that about 17.7 million people, including 14,000 IDPs in 26 states and the FCT, were already in crisis or worse by May 2023.
The report pointed out that the naira redesign was one of the major drivers of the crisis in Nigeria, as the withdrawal of old naira notes from circulation created a serious bottleneck to households’ ability to access cash and food commodities.
The prolonged scarcity of Petroleum Motor Spirit commonly called petrol, and the associated hike in the pump price of the commodity across the states led to an astronomical rise in transport fares and cost of food products in Nigerian markets.
The report also highlighted the consistent rise in the price of food commodities and agricultural inputs across Nigerian markets as a major driver of food insecurity. For instance, the consumer price index, which measures inflation, grew from 15.7 percent in February 2022 to 21.9 percent in February 2023 (that is a 39.49 percent point increase) year-on-year.
Insecurity, especially insurgency in the North-East states, particularly in Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe, was also identified as a persistent challenge in the report.
The Cadre Harmonise report was produced with technical and financial support from global, regional, and national partners including the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, World Food Programme, Save the Children, UNICEF, Mercy Corps, among others.
Cash Crunch, Economic Uncertainty Bolster Inflation Rate to 21.91% in February – NBS
Nigeria’s inflation rate continues to upward trend in February as economic uncertainty amid a chronic cash crunch crippled economic activities.
The Consumer Price Index (CPI), which measures the inflation rate, grew at 21.91% rate in the month of February, a 0.09% increase from 21.82% recorded in January, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) stated.
On a yearly basis, the inflation rate was 6.21% higher than the 15.70% filed in February of 2022.
According to the NBS, the headline inflation was bolstered by Bread and Cereal (21.67%), Actual and Imputed Rent (7.74%), Potatoes, Yam and Other Tubers (6.06%), Vegetable (5.44%) and Meat (4.78%).
On a monthly basis, inflation moderated by 0.16% in the month under review to 1.71% when compared to 1.87% reported in January 2023. Indicating that in February 2023 price level was 0.16% lower relative to January 2023.
The percentage change in the average CPI for the twelve months period ending February 2023 over the average of the CPI for the previous twelve months period was 19.87%, showing a 3.15% points increase compared to 16.73% recorded in February 2022.
Nigeria’s food inflation rate grew at a whopping 24.35% rate on a year-on-year basis in February 2023 as a few money continues to chase limited food items due to the nation’s new bank policy that made it impossible for people to access their deposited money in the bank.
This was 7.24% points higher when compared to the 17.11% recorded in February 2022. The rise in food inflation according to NBS was caused by increases in prices of Oil and Fat, Bread and Cereals, Potatoes, Yam and Other Tubers, Fish, Fruits, Meat, Vegetable, and Food Product etc.
On a monthly basis, the food inflation rate was 1.90% in February 2023, representing a 0.18% increase from 2.08% in January 2023.
However, the average annual rate of food inflation for the twelve-month ending February 2023 over the previous twelve-month average was 22.12%, which was a 2.44% points increase from the average annual rate of change recorded in February 2022 (19.69%).
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