Fuel Hike: We Will Engage Government with open mindedness – Comrade Dominic Abang, Chairman, Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) Akwa Ibom State Council.
The Chairman, Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), Akwa Ibom State Council, Comrade Dominic Abang said TUC and NLC would convoke a meeting this week to deliberate on the modalities for an industrial strike, should Government remain adamant in reversing the current price hike in the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), also known as fuel and electricity tariff hike, respectively.
Comrade Abang stated this on a phone-in radio programme – Community Views on Planet 101.1 FM, last weekend.
He said it is quite worrisome that the Federal Government could take such insensitive decision of increasing PMS price from 148 to 161 per little and electricity tariff from N30.23 per one kwh to N62.33 without due consultations with relevant stakeholders, coupled with the present dwindled economy ocassion by COVID-19 global pandemic.
He described Federal Government’s action on fuel hike and electricity tariff at this point in time as the most insensitive decision and an outright insult to the Nigerian people who are currently bearing heavy economic burden of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The TUC Chairman wondered why Federal Government of Nigeria is duplicating the burdens of poor Nigerians when other nations world over are granting various types of palliative to the citizens, adding that, fuel hike and electricity tariff hike are deliberate move to impoverish the Nigerian masses.
Comrade Abang said that organised labour is expected to engage with the Federal Government to ensure the current hardship these prices hikes have imposed on the masses is ironed out amicable to the relief of the poor masses.
While stating the resolved of TUC and other organised labour to pooh-pooh every move to further impoverish the masses, Comrade Abang said the Labour stakeholders when interfacing with Federal Government shall hold brief for the right that the wellbeing of the masses overrides other Government interests in a sensitive democratic Government.
He assured that such salient interface shall be predicated on high level of open mindedness by the Nigerian Labour movement as the hope of Nigerian workforce and the poor masses.
“I want to assure Nigerians that we will go to the meeting as we normally go for any meeting with an open mind. The premise of our open mindedness will revolve round the fact that the Federal Government should consider that the inflation rate is 13% and food inflation is 14.5% at this time.
“We shall also remind the Federal Government as part of our open mindedness that vat has just been increased from 5% to 7.5% just recently. we shall also let them know that in the outset of this pandemic, the Federal Government in their reaction increased the exchange rate from 305 -306 to 360 which today the masses are buying in the parallel market 475.
“We will remind them that there’s unemployment consequent upon this pandemic. To a larger extent, the hospitality business is gone, other self employed people are at home, the lockdown has caused people not to even have money.
“We will also remind them that the fuel hike and electricity tariff have come at this time for increase and all these things are focused on a particular consumer in Nigeria.
“We will also remind them they are holding talks to do concession of the Airports, so all these are our open mindedness and we will take them to that meeting and use that as parameters to tell them why we are not comfortable with the timing of this fuel hike.
“Federal Government has to do something about it, either they provide a palliative that will cushion the effect of this, maybe through provision of subsidized or free transportation system or in anyway they want to do it.
“Federal Government must provide palliatives or step it down until they are able to achieve this, and part of this is what is our refineries doing? How much can we put into it? How much is the cost of this subsidy that you are removing and so on?” The TUC Chairman questioned!