The Organised Labour has rejected this week’s hike in the price of petrol by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPCL),and is insisting on its reversal.
Top officials of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) said this after their initial meeting with a Federal Government on fuel subsidy on Wednesday at the State House in Abuja.
The meeting was attended by the government delegation, headed by Mele Kyari, the CEO of NNPCL, while the Organised Labour team was led by Festus Osifo, the President of TUC and Tony Ajaero of NLC.
Speaking at the end of the meeting, Festus Osifo stressed that there had been no communication between the government and labour leaders before the government went ahead to announce a hike in the prices of petrol. He said this negated the assurance given by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in his inaugural speech.
“If you listen to the president during the inauguration at eagles square, he said one of the hallmarks of this administration is going to be dialogue, is going to be consultation, that they are not going to lord it over us.
“I am trying to paraphrase what he said, that he is not going to be a dictator. And what has happened in terms of the day has not shown what was written in his address.
“So, all we said before now was that we ought to have sat down, have this conversation before anything could have happened,” Osifo said.
He expressed shock that the government went ahead to increase the prices of petrol despite the labour leaders’ willingness to continue to engage the governme nt on the contentious issue of petrol subsidy.
“So, there was no conversation whatsoever, so for over a year, there wweren’tformal engagements and formal meetings. And because there wasn’t formal engagements and formal meetings that is why we found ourselves in this.
“If we have met before now, we would have proposed a lot of things. We have experts in our midsts who could have proffered some solutions, even the CNG how it could have been done faster. Because our own is, how do we protect the Nigerian people and the workforce?
“So, it’s not about grandstanding but it’s about how do we protect the workforce. Clearly, we have stated in our meeting today, let the statuesque ante remains, while we go back and have conversations with our principal, because the workers are our principal then we will reconvene for their discussion. But we hope that they will revert to the statuesque ante,” Osifo said.
Mr Dele Alake, a Presidential Aide, said that both parties “have been deliberating on finding very amicable solutions to the issue at hand.”
“We had a very robust engagement. We cross-fertilized ideas, ideas flew from all sides and there is one thing that is remarkable even from the Labour side, and that is Nigeria,” he said.
“We are all looking at the peace, progress and stability of Nigeria. That is what is paramount,” Alake said.
He said that the talks are ongoing and it is better for all sides to keep talking with a view to arriving at a very amicable resolution that will be in the longer-term interest of all Nigerians.
The NNPCL had on Wednesday directed its outlets nationwide to sell fuel between N480 and N570 per litre; a big increase from the then price of N186 per litre.