The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), has lambasted the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration over the recent hike in the price of petrol from N86.5 to N145 and the removal of fuel subsidy, describing the increment as the height of impunity and insensitivity.
Following the hike, the organized labour had given the federal government a three-day ultimatum to reverse its decision or the workers would shut down the whole country at the expiration of the ultimatum.
But the government, rather than order a reversal, invoked a no work no pay directive, stating that all workers of the private and public sector must be at their work stations as an attendance register will be opened to that effect.
The government, through the Attorney General of the Federation, had also approached the National Industrial Court, in a bid to stop the order, pleading that the court restrain the NLC from embarking on strike, a prayer that was granted.
However the NLC standing on its earlier stance, declared that there would be no retreat or surrender, despite the court order and pleas from top government figures.
The NLC, in a statement made available to newsmen, accused Buhari of going back on his campaign promise to provide a better life for the Nigerian people by announcing over 67% increase in the pump price of petrol.
“In the same manner of impunity, the government decided to make the announcement a few hours as it ended a deadlocked meeting with representatives of Nigeria Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, Nigeria Governors Forum and other stakeholders,” the NLC said.
“That meeting was inconclusive, unfortunately, the government seemed too much in haste to inflict further pains on the Nigerian people and obviously did not have the luxury for proper consultation.”
The NLC categorically noted that there is nothing the present government has said to justify the sudden increase that was not said by past regimes to justify same.
The statement noted that the congress is aware of the systematic approach the government used in increasing the price of the product, revealing that it started by an “artificial shortage in the supply of petroleum products created for months, indeed since last year.”
While noting that the Buhari led administration adopted the same method used during president Goodluck Jonathan’s government, in the announcement of the fuel price hike, the NLC wondered why “a government that promised change from the old order, used the same style to announce yet another increase, perhaps in the crudest manners, to show how much Nigerian people do not matter”.
The statement said that the announcement shouldn’t have come “at a time when Nigerians have become poorer in the face of collapsing value of our national currency, the naira, with attendant skyrocketing prices of goods and services, while electricity has become totally unavailable in the entire country”.
The NLC further lamented that despite the mass protest by workers and other Nigerians, as well as a court injunction which ordered the reversal of the increase in tariffs, “The government of “change” refused till date to reverse the increase.”
“Never before have Nigerians been visited with such crushing impunity, ignoring not just our pains but even our peaceful protect,” the NLC added.
According to the statement, the excuse that funds meant for subsidizing the petroleum sector were being diverted to private use cannot be a justification for the hike.
“We see this as a laughable reason, as an over-used admission of governments’ incompetence. Nigerians must not be allowed to pay for such incompetence,” the statement said.
The NLC, therefore insisted that Nigerians must not be made to bear the brunt of governments’ inability to carry out its functions, adding that all promises they have given about “alleviating the effect of the increases are the same or in fact a rehearsal of those made by previous governments, but which were never fulfilled.”