The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) appears divided with the South-west and Northern States’ chapters pulling out of the planned industrial action scheduled for Wednesday, 7 June.
During his inaugural speech at the Eagle Square in Abuja, the President, Bola Tinubu declared that the era of subsidy payment on fuel had ended.
Tinubu had also disclosed that the 2023 budget did not make provision for fuel subsidy as such, further payment is no longer justifiable.
“The fuel subsidy is gone,” Tinubu had declared, adding that his government would instead channel funds into infrastructure and other areas to strengthen the economy.
The presidential pronouncement led to an instant return of fuel queues across the country, with Nigerians lamenting the sharp increase in the price of petrol at the various filling stations.
This development led to the resistance from the organized labour to what the workers described as Tinubu’s unilateral action.
To cushion the attendant hardship, President Tinubu later promised to review the minimum wage to align with the current economic realities of the country.
According to him, the federal and state governments need to take a look at the minimum wage together and also strengthen the source and application of the country’s revenue.
He made this known on Friday while meeting with the members of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), who declared support for him on the removal of subsidy.
ThisDayLive reports that a spokesperson of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bayo Onanuga, had accused the President of NLC, Joe Ajaero, of working for the Labour Party (LP) and attempting to destabilise the newly inaugurated government with the planned strike.
According to reports, the alleged politicization of the planned action that was scheduled in protest against the removal of petrol subsidy, the South-west and northern states’ chapters have resolved to back out of the plan.
To make the strike effective, NLC had written all its 43 affiliate unions to mobilize for the scheduled industrial action.
The planned strike by the NLC is in reaction to the removal of the petrol subsidy, which led to a hike in the pump price of petrol.
Some of the affiliates of the NLC include the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP), Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), among others.
In a letter written to the affiliates, which was signed by the NLC General Secretary, Emmanuel Ugboaja, the Congress said, “We bring you greetings from the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress. You will recall that arising from the National Executive Council meeting held on June 2, 2023, it was decided that Congress will embark on a nationwide action and withdrawal of services, against the fraudulent increase in the prices of fuel across the thirty-six states of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the FCT.
“Please be informed that the nationwide action will commence on Wednesday, June 7, 2023. To this effect, all national leaders are expected to mobilise their members for the action and ensure full compliance with the directives as services in both the public and private sectors are expected to be fully withdrawn by Wednesday, June 7, 2023.
“All Presidents and General Secretaries are expected to help ensure the implementation of the decisions of the National Executive Council,” the NLC explained.
In reaction to the threat by the labour unions, one of the spokespersons the APC, Onanuga, has accused the President of NLC, Ajaero, of attempting to destabilise the newly inaugurated government with the planned strike.
Onanuga, who posted a statement via Twitter on Saturday, said Ajaero was privy to the fact that the government was going to remove the subsidy and accused him of playing politics with the decision. He asked Nigerians to ignore Ajaero’s call for a strike.
“The politically-tainted NLC, TUC, and NLC President, Joe Ajaero have asked workers to go on strike next Wednesday over the removal of petrol subsidy, despite being privy to the distressing financial figures, which justified why subsidy ought to have been scrapped a long time ago.
“My advice to the perceptive workers and the Nigerian populace is simply to ignore Ajaero and his ilk.
“He is playing politics and is actually acting the script of the opposition Labour Party, out to destabilise the young Tinubu’s administration.
“Besides, one wonders whose interest Ajaero is championing, when he did not oppose the position of his Labour Party and presidential candidate, who campaigned with the promise to scrap subsidy from Day One if elected.
“NLC and TUC leaders knew since last November that the subsidy will be scrapped from July 1 as no provision has been made in the budget for it, beyond this date.
“The federal government, which already commits 96 per cent of its revenue in servicing debt, is not in any position to continue selling subsidised fuel, most of which is smuggled across our borders for criminal and obscenely unpatriotic profit.
“Subsidy of fuel is no longer unsustainable as the federal government is virtually broke. Apart from its N77 trillion debt, it also owes NNPC Limited about N2.4 trillion for past subsidies.
“The Nigerian people and workers should support the government as it works out new wages and rolls out other interventions, as promised by President Tinubu, to mitigate the effects of the new fuel price.
“Let’s not make ourselves pawns in the hands of the politically biased and tainted NLC and TUC. Ajaero is no longer a labour leader. He is a politician and leader of the Labour Party. He is no more representing all the Nigerian workers,” Onanuga said.