The organised labour in Nigeria has expressed doubt about the sincerity of the government in offering interventions to cushion the effect of fuel subsidy removal and vowed to proceed with planned protests.
It was reported that in a national broadcast, President Bola Tinubu rolled out interventions to cushion the effects of his administration’s policies on citizens.
However, the labour vowed to proceed with its planned protest, saying what he told Nigerians was neither here nor there, considering that after spending two months in office, there were no concrete measures to bring immediate succour to the people.
In his broadcast, Tinubu said his administration was monitoring the effects of the exchange rate and inflation on gasoline prices with a pledge to intervene “if and when necessary.”
Addressing reporters after a meeting of the Presidential Steering Committee on Palliatives, Nigeria Labour Congress President Joe Ajaero said Tinubu’s measures lacked concrete actions to bring immediate relief to the people. The president’s pledge to intervene in exchange rates and inflation on gasoline prices was deemed insufficient by the labour leader.
Despite concerns about the potential hijacking of the protests, Ajaero asserted that security agencies should ensure the safety of workers during the demonstrations. He cast doubt on Tinubu’s ability to control inflation and gasoline prices due to the unification of the exchange rate.
He said the meeting was adjourned to 12 noon today to enable the labour leaders to listen to the president’s national broadcast on Monday.
Reacting to Tinubu’s plan to intervene on exchange rate over inflation and high cost of gasoline prices, Ajaero said: “By the time you have a single market and you are not having anything that has a comparative advantage, your energy is import driven, then how are you going to control it? How are you going to control somebody that exchanged dollars at about 900 (naira)? Are you going to tell him to sell below the price?
“How are you going to tell even NEPA (DisCos) today, with the cost of production not to increase tariff? Even corn in the villages that was sold at N18, 000 by February, now it’s about 56, 000. How are you going to control it?”
The Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila, acknowledged the government’s struggle against powerful oil cabals that have impacted the economy negatively. He cited the removal of subsidy as the first step in dealing with the situation.
Asked whether the oil cabals were more powerful than the security and government, he said, “Yes they are and that’s what the government is dealing with. First of all, remove the subsidy, that’s the first step.”
The National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu, pleaded with the organised labour to give the administration little chance to fix the economy. He said President Tinubu inherited a bad economy that he is working hard to fix.
The protest is scheduled to take place today, Tuesday, August 2, 2023.