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Subsidy Removal: Labour demands NNPCL withdraw new fuel price template as consumers groan

*The leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress urges the Federal Government to ‘immediately instruct’ the NNPC Limited to withdraw its new ‘regulatory’ fuel price template to minimise the growing hardships and frustrations to which millions of consumers are being subjected in the economy

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

Describing the national oil company’s action amid ongoing stakeholders’ engagements and negotiations as “vexatious”, the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Wednesday, May 31, 2023, said the latest adjustment of pump prices by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) was unacceptable.

ConsumerConnect reports the NLC leadership has petitioned the Federal Government to immediately instruct the NNPCL to withdraw the new “regulatory” pricing template when the oil firm still remains a player and sole products importer in the oil and gas industry of the Nigerian economy.

Comrade Joe Ajaero, President of NLC Wednesday stated the authorities, including the Nigerian Midstream Development Regulatory Authority (the Authority) to allow ongoing  discussions by the parties to yield fruits.

Ajaero noted the Nigerian consumers would not accept any manipulations of any kind from any of the parties, especially from the representatives of the Government on the fuel subsidy removal palaver.

The NLC described the move on price hike as “an ambush and runs against the spirit and principles of Social Dialogue, which remains the best platform available for the resolution of all the issues arising out of the petroleum Downstream sector.”

Malam Mele Kyari, Group CEO of NNPC Limited 

It is recalled that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu had announced an end to the subsidy regime during his inaugural speech at the Eagle Square, Monday, May 29, in Abuja, FCT, saying there is no provision for petrol subsidy in the current 2023 Budget beyond June this year.

Tinubu, in his address, specifically declared that fuel “subsidy is gone.”

Subsequently, and barely 48 hours after the President’s pronouncement, the NNPCL adjusted upwards  petrol prices consumers are expected to pay across the 36 states of the Federation and FCT.

The national oil company has since confirmed the  hikes in the pump prices of Premium Motor Spirit otherwise known as petrol.

Socio-economic implications price hikes on consumers

Shortly after the presidential pronouncement of the reality of an end to the controversial fuel subsidy Monday, in Abuja, checks revealed that long fuel queues have resurfaced across the country, as millions of Nigerian consumers unceremoniously are confronted with increased prices of petrol at filling stations with attendant high prices of other products and services.

The petroleum product prices have increased from about N185 per litre to between N400 and N600 per litre in most cities and towns in the West African country.

NLC’s concerns amid continued negotiations

Rattled by the latest development in the fuel retail market, NLC President Joe Ajaero, in the statement also expressed worry that the NNPCL would announce price increments while negotiations were still ongoing with other stakeholders.

Ajaero, who further described the development as unfortunate, said the NNPCL’s action happened on the heels of an ongoing meeting with stakeholders in the oil and gas sector with a “unilateral but unfortunate announcement by the President.”

The NLC leadership said: ‘It is, therefore, unacceptable and we seriously condemn it. Good faith negotiation is key to reaching agreement.

“What the government has done is like holding a gun to the head of Nigerian people and bringing undue pressure on the leaders thus undermine the dialogue.”

He also stated: “We call on the Federal Government to immediately instruct the NNPC to withdraw this vexatious Pricing template to allow free flow of discussions by the parties. Nigerians would not accept any manipulations of any kind from any of the parties especially from the representatives of the Government.

“Our commitment to this process is buoyed on the fact that all the parties would be committed to ensuring that it is carried out within the ambits of liberty without undue pressure.”

The NLC President as well warned the authorities that “the release of that Template (fuel price) may not allow us to continue, if nothing is done to withdraw it so that the dialogue can continue unhindered.

“It is clear that Government is actually trying to scuttle the process.”

According to him, it is clear that the Federal Government is actually trying to scuttle the negotiation process on the fuel subsidy removal.

“As it stands, the Federal Government has become fixated on their chosen course of action.

Would this help this dialogue? It clearly will not.

“There must be flexibility to allow concessions and reasonable accommodation that will produce the best result for Nigerian people. This is what we all seek at this time,” Ajaero said.

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