THE Trade Union Congress (TUC) has raised concerns over the removal of fuel subsidy by the administration of President Bola Tinubu, calling for caution in the implementation of the decision.
In his inaugural speech on May 29, Tinubu declared an end to fuel subsidy, citing the country’s inability to sustain it due to dwindling resources.
He stressed the need to redirect the funds previously allocated for subsidy towards public infrastructure, education, healthcare, and job creation to significantly improve the lives of Nigerians.
“Subsidy can no longer justify its ever-increasing costs in the wake of drying resources. We shall instead re-channel the funds into better investment in public infrastructure, education, health care and jobs that will materially improve the lives of millions,” he said.
However, this announcement has resulted in widespread economic repercussions, with petrol prices rising at filling stations across the nation.
TUC President, Festus Osifo, and Secretary General, Nuhu Toro, in a statement on Tuesday, May 30, urged the President to consult extensively with relevant stakeholders.
The labour union noted that the decision to remove the subsidy would have far-reaching effects on millions of Nigerians.
Expressing surprise and concern, the TUC stated, “If by this, he means increases in pump price and the exploitation of the people by unregulated and exploitative deregulated prices, then it’s a joke taken too far.”
The TUC stated the need for clarity and consistency in the President’s statements and alignment with the provisions outlined in the 2023 Appropriation Act.
The Congress stressed the importance of treating the issue with utmost caution and conducting robust dialogues and consultations with working class representatives, including professionals, market vendors, students, and the impoverished masses.
The union demanded ample time for these discussions and engagements, to ensure that all concerns and questions were addressed before proceeding.
The TUC also stressed that Nigerian workers and the masses should not bear the brunt of the inefficiencies of successive governments.
“But we expect the Tinubu government to be wise on such a sensitive issue and be more explicit in its pronouncement to avoid contradictory interpretations when comparing his written statement, what he said and the provision in the 2023 Appropriation Act.
“We dare say that this is a very delicate issue that touches on the lives, if not very survival, of particularly the working people. Hence, it ought to have been treated with utmost caution, and should have been preceded by robust dialogue and consultation with the representatives of the working people, including professionals, market people, students and the poor masses.
“Accordingly, we hereby demand that President Tinubu should tarry awhile to give room for robust dialogue and consultation and stakeholders engagement. Just as he opined in his speech until all issues and questions; and there are a host of them, are amicably considered and resolved. Nigerian Workers and indeed masses must not be made to suffer the inefficiency of successive governments.”
The TUC expressed its willingness to engage in dialogue with the Tinubu administration but insisted that the government should not dictate or manipulate the outcome.
They highlighted the deteriorating state of the N30,000 minimum wage, which has been eroded by problematic monetary and fiscal policies. The TUC called on the administration to prioritise resolving the issue due to its severe implications for workers and their livelihoods.
“We are also worried that in his speech, President Tinubu failed to delve into or reveal his plans on how to tackle and address the issue of poor and unchecked deterioration in industrial relations, particularly in the education, health and judiciary sectors, often resulting in prolonged strike and Industrial actions and their attendant adverse effects on society and the economy. A case in point is the current nationwide strike by JOHESU.
“If there is anything for the new administration to hurriedly address from day one in office, it is the abysmal N30,000 minimum wage that has since been eroded by the problematic monetary and fiscal policies of the government.
“The Labour Movement is open and ready to dialogue with the Tinubu administration on the fuel subsidy issue. We urge it in the interest of the country and its people not to dictate on such a matter or manipulate the outcome of such consultations.”
The Congress applauded the government’s pledged commitment to combating terrorism and criminality and suggested adopting a more inclusive approach in reviewing the security architecture to empower Nigerians to defend themselves against bandits and terrorists.
It commended Tinubu’s promises of job creation, food security, and eradicating extreme poverty. They urged him to involve organized labour, employers, professional organizations, and the informal sector to ensure that these programs deliver tangible improvements and can be verified with reliable statistics.
“Congress welcomes the promise to make electricity accessible and affordable to businesses and homes and, suggests that the Tinubu government begins by stopping the periodic arbitrary increases in the price of electricity imposed by the distribution companies while regulatory and consumer agencies look away,” it added.
The association pledged unwavering support for Nigerian workers who continue to persevere despite harsh government policies, poor governance, and mismanagement of resources, which have contributed to the challenging living conditions experienced by many.