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Fuel Subsidy: Tinubu, Labour leaders, other stakeholders in crucial meetings

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR

*Nigerian Labour leaders and other industry stakeholders urge President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to give room for robust dialogue and stakeholders’ engagements to resolve all issues and questions, so workers and masses will not be made to suffer ‘the inefficiency of successive governments’

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

In a bid to resolve the brewing crises over the Federal Government’s decision to terminate the extant subsidy regime in the petroleum industry, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR, has summoned a meeting with Labour leaders and major stakeholders in the sector.

ConsumerConnect learnt President Tinubu, earlier Tuesday, May 30, 2023, had met behind closed doors in the State House with Mr. Godwin Emefiele, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Malam Mele Kyari, Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) and Farouk Ahmed, Chief Executive of Nigerian Mainstream and Downstream Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), over the re-emerging long fuel queues at filling stations, especially in major Nigerian cities.

The President, in his inaugural address Monday, in Abuja, FCT, had  restated loud and clear, that government’s decision is to end fuel subsidy, saying “subsidy is gone.”

He, nonetheless, added that that proceeds gained would be deployed to address important social issues, such as health and education in the economy.

Speaking with State House Correspondents after the meeting with Tinubu, Kyari disclosed that the Federal Government is still owing the the NNPCL N2.8trillion, as accumulated fund expended on fuel subsidy this far.

It was gathered late Tuesday that the President also summoned a meeting of the leaders of Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) for another crucial meeting in the Presidential Villa.

The meeting, it was gathered, was earlier fixed for 6p.m. but was later shifted to Tinubu’s private residence at Asokoro and rescheduled for 8p.m.

The President’s meeting with the Labour was aimed at wooing members of the organised Labour to seek their understanding over the issue, according to report.

Major concerns of Labour leaders over subsidy removal

Keen observers said the Federal Government’s decision to end fuel subsidy might not have gone down well with members of the organised Labour for fear that such move would create more hardships for the already overstressed Nigerian consumers.

The current situation is reportedly further worsened by the sharp increase in the pump price of the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) also known as petrol in certain parts of the West African country.

Reports indicate the prices since Monday afternoon are said to have hit as high as between N600 and N1,200 per liter in some parts of Nigeria.

The situation is particularly said to be worse in the South-East than other regions, as the fuel price has hit as high as N1,200 per liter.

Subsidy is a huge burden on Nigerian masses -Vice President Shettima

In his comment on the fuel subsidy removal blues, Vice-President Kashim Shettima, told reporters Tuesday, in Abuja, that subsidy is a huge burden placed on the masses, which President Tinubu is committed to removing.

The Vice-President stated: “The truth of the matter is that it is either we get rid of subsidy or the fuel subsidy gets rid of the Nigerian nation.

“In 2022, we spent $10billion subsidising the ostentatious lifestyle of the upper class of the society because you and I benefit 90% from the oil subsidy. The poor 40% of Nigerians benefit very little.”

Shettima also noted: “We know the consequences of unveiling a masquerade.

“We will get fierce opposition from those benefitting from the oil subsidy scam. But where there is a will, there is a way.

“Be rest assured that our President is a man of strong will and conviction.”

He said: “In the fullness of time, you will appreciate his noble intentions for the nation.

“The issue of fuel subsidy will be frontally addressed. The earlier we do so, the better.”

Fuel subsidy removal ‘a joke taken too far’: TUC

Meanwhile, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) has rejected the removal of fuel subsidy.

The Union, in a statement by its President and Secretary General, Festus Osifo and Nuhu Toro, respectively, warned that “it is a joke taken too far.”

The Labour leaders argued that the move would lead to an “increase in pump price and the exploitation of the people by unregulated and exploitative deregulated prices, then it’s a joke taken too far.”

The Union held that the subsidy removal is a delicate issue that requires “robust dialogue and consultation with the representatives of the working people, including professionals, market people, students, and the poor masses.

“We hereby demand that President Tinubu should tarry awhile to give room for robust dialogue and consultation and stakeholders engagement, just as he opined in his speech until all issues and questions – and there are a host of them! – to ensure that they are amicably considered and resolved.

“Nigerian Workers and indeed, masses must not be made to suffer the inefficiency of successive governments.”

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