‘Chaos For Incoming Govt’ – Labour Reacts To FG’s Plan On Petrol Subsidy Removal
The Organized Labour has cautioned the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government over the plan to remove the petrol subsidy between May and June 2023.
Naija News understands that Buhari’s administration will end on May 29 when the president-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is expected to be sworn in as the next leader of the African Giant country.
However, organized labour has perceived the incumbent government’s plan for petrol subsidy removal as chaotic and unfair development for the incoming administration.
The organized labour criticized the federal government for not carrying her along in its deliberations.
The President and the Secretary-General of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Festus Osifo and Abba Toro, respectively, gave the caution in separate chats with Daily Trust on Thursday, this news platform understands.
Petrol Subsidy Will Be Removed Before May 29
Earlier, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, told reporters that the petrol subsidy would be removed before President Buhari’s tenure ended on May 29.
Addressing Voice of Nigeria a fortnight ago during a courtesy visit to its headquarters in Abuja, the Minister attributed the delay in the subsidy removal, as provided for in the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021, to the 2023 general elections and the national population census.
Meanwhile, the Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Clement Agba, had, after the Federal Executive Council meeting held on March 15, said no conclusion had been reached on how to lessen the likely impacts of the proposed petrol subsidy removal on citizens.
He said though a committee headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had been working for about a year, nothing definite had been agreed upon.
Chaos That Will Follow Incoming Administration
Speaking earlier on Tuesday, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, noted the incumbent government would hand over the implementation of petrol subsidy removal’s palliative measures to the incoming administration of Bola Tinubu.
Reacting, however, labour officials described the plan by the Buhari-led administration to remove the subsidy before it leaves on May 29, and leave the chaos that will follow to the in-coming administration as not fair.
They said citing the PIA as the basis for removing the subsidy does not hold water because there is no law made by man that is cast in stone.
Labour Critical Stakeholder The Gov’t Must Carry Along
Speaking on the position of organized labour, the President of the TUC, Osifo, said labour is a critical stakeholder that must be carried along as far as the matter is concerned.
According to him, there must be discussions between organised labour and the government (whether outgoing or incoming) before the removal of subsidy.
“Well, anybody can make pronouncements on the removal of subsidies in his or her kitchen; what I know is that we can’t even talk about palliatives now when we have not sat on a round table to discuss the main issue.
“As of now, no discussion is ongoing regarding that. Whatever the government wants to do on that, labour is a critical stakeholder that must be carried along.
“We will sit together, discuss, solve grey areas and find common ground,” Osifo told reporters who visited his Abuja office.
On his part, Toro also insisted that carrying the labour movement along is necessary before removing the petrol subsidy. He said, “That is what we call social dialogue. Everything will be back to square one if the government removes subsidies without carrying labour along.”
When reminded that the PIA law signed by President Buhari stated that subsidy removal must not exceed June, Toro said, “laws were not cast in the iron.
“Like the president alluded to, it is a function of social dialogue, and they cannot push out a policy through our throats without consultation, if they don’t consult, we will automatically confront them if it affects us directly. There is no way we will allow that.
“Laws are written by human beings, and it is to govern human beings, so, those laws are not cast in the irons. Because they are laws, and they are not favourable to the survival of the people, should we keep quiet? No! That’s why we have the parliament.”