The General Secretary of the NLC, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, told one of our correspondents on the telephone on Sunday that the government should review its policy on subsidy that led to the increase in the fuel pump price from N97 to N145 per litre last year.
Sunday PUNCH had reported that the Federal Government had started paying subsidy on fuel as a result of the increase in the landing cost and total cost of fuel from N122.03 and N140.40 per litre respectively to N145.
Ozo-Eson was reacting to reports that the landing cost of petroleum had increased from N140.40 to N145, the same amount with the current fuel pump price in the country.
He stated, “I do not think that at this time, and given all that we have seen, that Nigerians can be subjected to another round of price increase now. That is why government needs to revisit and rethink its policy. Nigerians cannot take another round of price increase.”
He recalled that the NLC had said during the last fuel increase that the policy was bad and not ripe in an import-dependent regime as it was bound to further weaken the naira.
He said, “The policy that is being pursued is not one that can grant you stability in price. When they raised the price to N145, we said so; that with time, given an import-dependent regime, for such a policy, the value of the Naira will be severely weakened.
“We actually remember saying then that before the end of the year, the Naira will be close to N500 to a dollar and it has come to happen. If you translate the current value of the Naira through the template, you are going to find that the landing price would be higher.
“The burden is on the government. That is where the issue of policy comes in. It is government policy that led to the price going to N145. Given the realities on the ground, now the government needs to revisit its own policy.”
He added that the government ought to be sure of domestic refining capacity before embarking on the removal of subsidy, which resulted in the fuel price increase to N145 per litre.
He explained that the actual landing cost would be determined by the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, which, according him, is still working on the price template.
When asked what the NLC would do if the fuel price is increased again, he said, “That is not for me to say. It is not an individual who makes such pronouncements. Whatever develops, we may also engage it and decisions would be taken and communicated to Nigerians.”
Also, the President of Trade Union Congress, Mr. Bala Kaigama, said the labour unions were members of the board of the PPPRA and were not aware of the planned increase.
“TUC, NLC and all the unions in the oil and gas industry are members of the governing board of the PPPRA. So, no increase can be done without our knowledge and we are not aware of such move,” he said.
Buhari’s economic policies lack human face –CAN
Meanwhile, the Christian Association of Nigeria, on Sunday, condemned the economic policies of President Muhammadu Buhari, including the ban on foreign goods and devaluation of the currency, saying the policies lacked human face.
The ban on foreign goods by the Federal Government, CAN said, would lead to smuggling and huge revenue losses, adding that the devaluation of the currency “led to galloping inflation to the extent that the cost of living has risen and makes life unbearable for people.”
The President of CAN, Dr. Samson Ayokunle, in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media and Communications, Adebayo Oladeji, said this in Abuja while delivering a sermon entitled, ‘It is not beyond God’s control’, at the ongoing International General Workers Conference and Ordination Interview of the Nigerian Baptist Convention.
He said, “Fowls used to be a common gift to friends during Christmas celebration. During the just-ended celebration, it hardly featured as Christmas gift item. Humanly speaking, things are tough for many. Businesses that are foreign-currency dependent are closing down and people are losing their jobs.
“This economic policy appears to lack human face. What is the essence of banning foreign goods when the government has not been able to make such goods locally available in abundance? Such ban would just encourage smuggling and a lot of revenue would be lost by the government.
“The inability of the government to pay salaries not only in the states, but at federal level as well is a big dent on the government. My Bible says that the worker deserves prompt payment of his or her wages. Of course, the Bible says that the wages must not be delayed till the next day.
“This delay in the payment of salaries has, in turn, affected the operations of many private organisations, including the church. Our economy is public-sector driven. So, to a large extent, whatever is the economic policy of government has excruciating challenge on all other sectors.”
Ayokunle also condemned the inability of the government to give jobs to the youth, warning that the earlier the government did something about it, the better for everybody.
The CAN president stated, “University graduates are roaming the streets without anything to do. Those who are working have too many mouths of the unemployed adults to feed. This has increased the level of poverty in our nation and job creation remains a big challenge the government must pay serious attention to.
“The increasing wave of kidnapping may not be unconnected with the lack of tangible employment for many of our able bodied youths.
“Kidnapping used to be rampant in the East but has almost become a lucrative business now in the (South) West and the North. It is a very bad experience that Nigerians do not deserve to be passing through.
“A special squad, if possible, should be trained with necessary surveillance equipment to fish out these criminals who are in the business of kidnapping for ransom. If the government claims that they are doing something, they must do more.”
He condemned the failure of the Federal Government to stop “the killings and destruction of farms by the Fulani herdsmen” and the “Southern Kaduna massacre of Christians.”
Ayokunle described the response from law enforcement agencies as “so lethargic that CAN had to call for national day of mourning and prayer to seek God’s face so that the destruction might stop.”
He added, “No one who died untimely in that unchecked mayhem deserved to die. The killings of the Agatus and other citizens in Benue State under the watch of both the state and the Federal Government were unfortunate and (such) should be stopped immediately.””