By Emmanuel Badejo
The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday insisted it will not rescind its decision to call out Nigerian workers on January 27 over the Federal Government’s decision to stop paying fuel subsidy by June.
Finance, Budget and National Planning Minister, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, had sometimes last year said the government would no longer bear the subsidy burden.
But, reacting on a live Channels’ Television programme, ‘Politics Today’, yesterday, the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, said the organised Labour had made its intention known on the matter.
According to him, there was no justification whatsoever for the removal.
He said Nigerian workers were being mobilised to go on the planned rally against the decision next Thursday.
Wabba, who noted that some stakeholders were still consulting with the union, said the only thing that could make it shelve the planned protest was for the government to suspend the decision.
The NLC chief noted that before the national protest, the labour union would hold protest rallies in all the 36 states of Nigeria on January 27 against the subsidy removal.
Wabba said the removal of the fuel subsidy would expose Nigerian workers and the citizenry to acute deprivation and worsen the hyper-inflation trend in Nigeria.
The labour leader said Nigerians should not fall for the plans by the Federal Government to disburse N5000 to 40 million poorest Nigerians each as transport grants to cushion the effect of the planned removal of the fuel subsidy.
Wabba said the total amount involved, which he referred to as a queer initiative, was far more than the money government claimed to spend currently on fuel subsidy.
Reminded that the removal of fuel subsidy is now backed by an act of parliament with the signing of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), the Labour leader said any law that will impoverish Nigerians rather than lift them from the poverty line should be rejected.
Wabba alleged that those pushing for the subsidy removal were only interested in keeping Nigerians perpetually poor.
He wondered why it has been a difficult task for the country and the regulators of the petroleum sector to fix the refineries, adding that, until they are fixed, the nation would continue a vicious circle that leads nowhere.
Wabba said it was surprising to now see some forces backing the removal.
The NLC President pointed out that the views of the regulators correspond with the positions of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which asked the Federal Government to remove fuel subsidy.