THE Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has berated the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPLtd.) for publicly publishing a new price template for petrol while talks are ongoing between the Federal government and labour leaders.
The NNPLtd. has today confirmed upward adjustments of the pump prices of petrol at its retail outlets across the country.
The national oil company cited current global market realities as what informed its decision to review the price upwards.
This development did not sit down well with NLC leaders who described government’s approach to the negotiations as double-faced.
“This is an ambush and runs against the spirit and principles of social dialogue, which remains the best platform available for the resolution of the issues arising from the petroleum downstream sector,” said the NLC president Joe Ajaero in a statement he issued on Wednesday, May 31.
Ajaero said, “Government cannot in one breath be talking about deregulation and at the same time be fixing prices of petroleum products. This negates the spirit of allowing the operations of free market unless the government has, as usual, usurped market forces.
“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 the Nigerian people and bringing undue pressure on the leaders, thus undermining the dialogue.”
Ajaero has, consequently, called on the Federal government to immediately withdraw the pricing template to allow free flow of discussion by the parties.
He vowed that Nigerians would not accept manipulation of any kind from any of the parties, especially from government representatives.
“Our committment to the process is buoyed on the fact that all parties would be committed to ensuring that it is carried out within the ambit of liberty without undue pressure,” he said.
The body warned that the release of the template may not allow the talks to continue if nothing was done to withdraw it so that the dialogue can continue unhindered.
Ajaero stressed the importance of flexibility to allow concessions and reasonable accommodation that would produce the best results for the Nigerian people.
The Bola Tinubu administration had declared a no-more subsidy regime, which has sparked off lots of reactions.
Already, long queues of vehicles have resurfaced at filling stations in major cities across the country, with the petroleum retail outlets already adjusting the prices.
“I’m an advocate of subsidy removal. But the manner the President went about it was wrong. There ought to be mechanisms in place to cushion the ripple effects on the economy and to lessen inflation concerns and effects on Nigerians,” the Lead Director, Centre for Social Justice, Eze Onyekpere, told The ICIR.
Onyekpere advised the government to tactically engage the labour union on the issue, as well as plug all loopholes to avoid possible crisis in the country.