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Petrol Subsidy Removal: Meeting Between FG and Labor Ends in Deadlock

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Thursday, 1 June 2023 06:48

By Philip Nwelih with additional reporting from Samuel Nwala @philipnwelih

The meeting between the Nigerian federal government and the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) over fuel subsidies ended Wednesday evening without a consensus.

The meeting was called to forestall a labor crisis following the astronomic increase in the pump price of petrol following President Bola Tinubu’s declaration of an end to the petrol subsidy.

The talks took place at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, and lasted more than five hours.

The government's delegation included Dele Alake, the spokesperson of President Tinubu, and the Group CEO of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, Mele Kyari; while the labor delegation was led by the NLC president, Joe Ajaero.

After deliberations, the NLC president told State House correspondents that organized labor asked the government to revert to the status quo.

“As far as labor is concerned, we didn’t have a consensus in this meeting,” Ajaero told journalists.

“You don’t put the partner… you don’t ask him to negotiate under gunpoint.

“Prayers of NLC is that we go back to the status quo, negotiate, think of alternatives, and all the effects, and how to manage the effects this action is going to have on the people; if it is an action that must take off.

“Well, the subsidy provision has been made up to the end of June. And before then, conscious people – labor, management, government – should be able to think of what will happen at the end of June. You don’t start it before time.

“We ask ourselves some questions. We have refineries: Kaduna, Warri, Sapele, Port Harcourt. Why are they not functional that we have to go and refine abroad?” he queried.

The spokesperson of the government delegation, Alake said the parties will continue the talks another day.

“We’ve been deliberating on finding very very amicable resolution to the issue at hand, to the queue and all of that, and the increase in pump price. And we had a very robust engagement,” he said.

Alake reiterated President Tinubu’s stance that the subsidy regime had ended and that the downstream sector of the petroleum industry was now deregulated.

“There is deregulation. There is no subsidy. There will be interventions. We are not calling it palliatives this time around,” he said.

Petrol prices have increased by more than 100 percent since Monday 29 May when President Bola Tinubu declared an end to fuel subsidies.

Fuel stations owned by NNPC Limited sell the product for N488 a liter in Lagos and as high as N557 in states in northern Nigeria.

Other stations have also increased prices, leading to a hike in transport fares across Nigeria.

Some bus drivers doubled fares in Lagos.

In Rivers State, most drivers increased fares by N100.

Motorists plying the East-West Road in Port Harcourt made adjustments to the cost of transportation.

Rumuokoro to Rumuosi is now N300 as against N200, Rumuokoro to Choba is now N400 as against N300, Choba to Nkpolu/Rumuigbo is N300 as against N200, Choba to Rumuosi is now N150 as against N100 while Choba to Alakahia remained N100 as of Thursday morning.


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