The organised labour at the weekend cautioned the National Economic Council (NEC) against approving a recommendation by the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) seeking a N385 pump price for petrol.
State affiliates of the organised labour, in separate interviews with the media (THISDAY), said doing so will unleash hardships on the people and heat up the polity.
Their warning came ahead of a National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), scheduled for Abuja tomorrow, to deliberate on the issue.
The 36 governors, under the auspices of the NGF, at a meeting last week, had endorsed the N385 per litre pump price recommended by a committee set up by NEC, and headed by the Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai.
However, the recommendation is subject to approval by NEC, chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
Although the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Timipre Sylva, had at the weekend allayed fears of an increase in petrol price, the various states’ chapters of the labour unions vowed to resist the proposed price regime, if approved.
Reacting to the governors’ proposal, the Chairman of the Niger State chapter of the NLC, Mr. Yakubu Garba, told the media at the weekend that there would be a “great revolt across the country if the pump price of petrol is increased to N385 per litre as proposed by the Nigerian Governors’ Forum”.
Garba stated that the workers would resist the proposed price, as the proposal by the governors is not only anti-workers but also anti-people.
According to him, the position of the “state NLC is the same with that of the national leadership of the congress, which is that government should make the refineries work.
“When the refineries are functional, they will serve two purposes – local supply of fuel will be adequate and at the right price, in addition to the country generating a lot of income from the export of petroleum products”.
Garba added that many Nigerians would also be employed.
He urged the NEC to reject the proposal by the governors, as approving it will heat up the nation.
The Sokoto State chapter of NLC said it would resist any attempt by the federal government to accept the proposal of state governors to increase the pump price to N385 against the current N165.
In an interview with the chairman of the council in the state, Mr. Aminu Umar Ahmad, wondered why the state governors who were supposed to care for the welfare of the citizens would sit down to take such a “heinous decision.”
He said: “Let me tell you; I’m disappointed at the action and attitude of the governors in taking such a decision that has adverse effects on the people.”
Umar added that the proposal by the governors would never see the light of the day, as labour will fight it with the last drop of their blood.
On his part, the Chairman of NLC in Zamfara State, Mr. Sani Magajinrafinya, told the media that: “The action of the governors is a betrayal of public trust.”
Sani urged the governors to look beyond crude oil and diversify their states’ sources of internally generated revenue.
He also stated that labour will use all arsenal at its disposal to resist any attempt to increase petrol pump price.
He confirmed that the NLC executive will meet tomorrow to deliberate on the matter.
Also, in his reaction, the Chairman of NLC in Kebbi State, Mr. Umar Halidu Hassan, said the action of the governors was a breach of agreement they entered with their people.
“I think the governors were not in the right mood when they took this decision,” he said.
According to him, any attempt to implement the proposal will trigger a nationwide industrial crisis.
Also, the Oyo State Chairman of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Mr. Emmanuel Ogundiran, said the union would resist the proposed increment of price of petrol to N385 per litre.
Ogundiran also said that the governors have continued to constitute themselves into anti-workers and anti-people group by throwing up policies that would further impoverish Nigerians.
He added that the NGF is not known to the Nigerian constitution.
He said: “What I am very sure of is that labour would not sit idly and accept this from the governors.”
On his part, the state Chairman of the NLC, Mr. Kayode Martins, said the union would not support such increment in the price of petrol.
He described the governors as enemies of the country who do not care about the hardship Nigerians are facing daily.
He stated that the position of the national leadership of the union would be binding on the state chapter.
Akwa Ibom State chapter of the NLC also rejected the proposal by the governors, saying it will not see the light of the day.
The state Chairman of NLC, Mr. Sunny James, explained that “there is no way we could accept such a thing.”
“NLC is the only hope of a common man at the moment in the country. It is totally unacceptable to allow the governors to slam that kind of hardship on the workers.
“They have the right to take their decision, but we will not allow them to implement such a thing. We are waiting for a directive from the national body. We are going to have an NLC executive meeting to look at all the situations in the country,” he stated.
Also in an interview, the Nasarawa State Chairman of the NLC, Mr. Yusuf Sarki Iyah, described the governors’ proposal as unfortunate.
He said: “Let me use this medium to describe this call by the governors as an unfortunate call. It is uncalled for at this moment when the impact of COVID-19 pandemic is still biting hard on the citizens of Nigeria.”
Ogun Records N13.3B Internally Generated Revenue Monthly in Q1 of 2021
Ogun State Government has recorded an average of N13.3billion monthly as Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) in the first quarter of 2021.
The government said it is also planning to raise its yearly Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rate from the current single digit by 25 percent.
The Commissioner for Finance, Dapo Okubadejo disclosed this to newsmen in Abeokuta ahead of the state’s investment summit tagged: ‘OgunIseya21: Becoming Africa’s Model Industrial and Logistics Hub’, slated for July 13th-14th, 2021.
Okubadejo who doubles as the State’s Chief Economic Adviser noted that the state’s IGR had experienced an upward movement after last year’s shortfall due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the attendant lockdown.
“We had a significant turnaround in the first quarter of this year. In fact, as of April, we have done almost N40bn in the Internally Generated Revenue. Our target this year is to exceed all the previous records we have set in IGR. That’s why we have put in place, all these transformation initiatives, friendly policies and also facilitate this investment summit to further showcase Ogun State as the preferred industrial destination,” he said.
The Finance Commissioner was supported in highlighting the investment potentials of the summit by his counterparts from the Ministries of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mrs. Kikelomo Longe; Works and Infrastructure, Ade Adesanya; Culture and Tourism, Toyin Taiwo; Budget and Planning, Olaolu Olabimtan and the Director-General, Public-Private Partnership, Dapo Oduwole.
Unemployment To Push More Nigerians Into Poverty – NESG
On Friday, The Nigerian Economic Summit Group said that many more Nigerians are expected to fall into the poverty trap amid rising unemployment in the country.
The NESG, a private sector-led think-tank, noted in its economic report for the first quarter of 2021 that the country’s economic growth in the period under review was relatively weak.
It said, “Nigeria’s economic growth trajectory is better described as jobless and less inclusive even in the heydays of high growth regime in the 2000s.
“While the Nigerian economy recovered from the recession in Q4 of 2020, the unemployment rate spiked to its highest level ever at 33.3 percent in the same quarter.
“With the COVID-19 crisis heightening the rate of joblessness, many Nigerians are expected to fall into the poverty trap, going forward.”
The group noted that the World Bank estimated an increase in the number of poor Nigerians to 90 million in 2020 from 83 million in 2019.
“This corresponds to a rise in headcount poverty ratio to 44.1 percent in 2020 from 40.1 percent in 2019. The rising levels of unemployment and poverty are reflected in the persistent insecurity and social vices, with attendant huge economic costs,” it said.
According to the report, huge dependence on proceeds from crude oil, leaving other revenue sources unexplored, indicates that Nigeria is not set to rein in debt accumulation in the short to medium term.
The NESG noted that public debt stock continued to trend upwards, with a jump from N7.6tn ($48.7bn) in 2012 to N32.9tn ($86.8bn) in 2020.
It said public debts grew by 20 percent between 2019 and 2020, adding, “This is partly due to the need for emergency funds to combat the global pandemic and alleviate its adverse economic impacts on households and businesses.”
According to the group, Nigeria needs more than an economic rebound, and there is a need to improve growth inclusiveness.
It said, “Nigeria has struggled to achieve inclusive growth for many decades. Since recovery from the 2016 recession, the economy has been on a fragile growth path until it slipped into another recession in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This suggests that the country needs to attain high and sustainable economic growth to become strong and resilient.
“The relationship between economic growth and unemployment rate in Nigeria suggests that economic growth has not led to a reduction in the unemployment rate – jobless growth.”
The NESG said to reverse this recurring trend, there was an urgent need for collaborative efforts between the government and relevant stakeholders towards addressing the constraints to value chain development in high-growth and employment-elastic sectors, including manufacturing, construction, trade, education, health and professional services, with ICT and renewable energy sectors as growth enablers.
It noted that despite the re-opening of the land borders that the Nigerian government shut since October 2019, inflation reached a four-year high of 18.1 percent in April 2021.
“While we expect improved agricultural production in coming months to partially ease inflationary pressures, this positive impact could be suppressed by recurring key structural bottlenecks including insecurity in the food-producing regions, electricity tariff hike, fuel price increase and hike in transport and logistic costs,” it added.
IMF Queries FG Strategies On Fuel Subsidy, Unemployment, Inflation
The International Monetary Fund has raised the red flag over Nigeria’s resumption of petrol subsidy payments, describing it as injurious to the economy.
It also reiterated the importance of introducing a market-based fuel pricing mechanism and deployment of well-targeted social safety nets to cushion any adverse impact on the poor.
In a report produced after a virtual meeting with Nigerian authorities from June 1 to 8, the IMF also expressed concerns over the rising unemployment and inflation rates, even as it admitted that real Gross Domestic Product was recovering.
The IMF team, led by Jesmin Rahman, further hailed the Central Bank of Nigeria for its efforts at unifying the exchange rate by embracing needed reforms.
The Fund said: “Recent exchange rate measures are encouraging, and further reforms are needed to achieve a fully unified and market-clearing exchange rate.
“The resurfacing of fuel subsidies is concerning, particularly in the context of low revenue mobilisation.
“The Nigerian economy has started to gradually recover from the negative effects of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Following sharp output contractions in the second and third quarters, GDP growth turned positive in Q4 2020 and growth reached 0.5 percent (y/y) in Q1 2021, supported by agriculture and services sectors.
“Nevertheless, the employment level continues to fall dramatically and, together with other socio-economic indicators, is far below pre-pandemic levels. Inflation slightly decelerated in May but remained elevated at 17.9 percent, owing to high food price inflation. With the recovery in oil prices and remittance flows, the strong pressures on the balance of payments have somewhat abated, although imports are rebounding faster than exports and foreign investor appetite remains subdued resulting in continued FX shortage.
“The incipient recovery in economic activity is projected to take root and broaden among sectors, with GDP growth expected to reach 2.5 percent in 2021. Inflation is expected to remain elevated in 2021, but likely to decelerate in the second half of the year to reach about 15.5 percent, following the removal of border controls and the elimination of base effects from elevated food price levels.”
The IMF also recognised that tax revenue collections were gradually recovering but noted that with fuel subsidies resurfacing, additional spending for COVID-19 vaccines and to address security challenges, the fiscal deficit of the Consolidated Government is expected to remain elevated at 5.5 percent of GDP.
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