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Labour Meets with FG Over Hike in Fuel Price and Electricity Tariff

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) is set to attend meeting with the Federal Government today, September 24, on the increase in fuel price and hike in electricity tariffs. The labour organisation had laid down conditions that would forestall the strike.  This is the second meeting in the week with the FG.

Sequel to last week’s meeting, the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) leadership served a notice for an industrial strike action scheduled for Monday, which gave room for the FG to revert the prices of the essential commodities or face the wrath of labour. They were ordered to meet with their executives ahead of Thursday’s negotiation meeting.

Quadri Olaleye, TUC President said  ‘We are going to attend (the meeting). I have also compared notes with my colleague Comrade Ayuba Wabba (NLC President). Olaleye said that more than 45 civil organisations and activist groups would be part of the strike while a nationwide mobilisation of market people and the general public are waiting for the decision of the Federal Government.

‘We will maintain our position on the reversal of fuel price and the electricity tariffs increase. We will also come up with some other conditions which will be in form of solution to the economy. We should not be talking only about reversal; we should be talking about prevention of future unilateral decisions.’’Although, we are attending the meeting, we are fully mobilised nationwide ahead of the planned strike. All affiliates of TUC and NLC are fully mobilise.’

Joe Ajaero, NLC Deputy President also said that the NLC would attend the meeting, while mobilisation towards a probable strike action is ongoing despite the scheduled meeting.

‘If you make a demand and you are invited to a meeting, you will go there. It is the people that are inviting you that will put something on the table. You were there at the last meeting; there was nothing on the table. I, the second in one-week f what they put on the table meets your demand and the demand of your people, you will agree. If they don’t, you continue with your action.’

Dr. Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment announced on Tuesday that the planned meeting would hold as part of the ‘continuous dialogue’. Dr Ngige argued that it will not be in the interest of anybody ‘if the economy is shut down’, adding ‘all of us will lose, Nigeria belong to all of us.’ This was corroborated by Charles Akpan, Spokesman of the Ministry of Labour who said that ‘The meeting is scheduled to hold on Thursday, 24th September 2020, at the Banquet Hall, Presidential Villa by 3 pm.’

State Governors have also joined the FG in its efforts to prevent the planned strike, they will also be involved in the deliberations at the meeting. Asishana Okauru, Director General of the Nigeria Governor’s Forum said that the NGF will hold an emergency meeting of all its members today in order to help the FG to negotiate amicably with the NLC and achieve mutually beneficial results.

‘All governors are expected to attend the meeting as the matter is considered to be of urgent national importance, which needs to be quickly resolved in order not to worsen the already bad situation of Nigerians as caused by the Coronavirus pandemic,’ Asishana Okauru said.

Meanwhile, the Ijaw Forward Movement (IFM) have criticised the labour union for proposing an industrial strike in this dire times. He urged the labour union to cancel the proposed strike and, in its stead, compel the FG to fix all refineries, while encouraging privatisation. Alfred Kemepado, IFM National Coordinator told the media that it was time Labour put a stop to their old schemes and focus on the economic realities that would enhance and improve the fortunes of the country. Kemepado, who is the immediate past Secretary-General of the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) Worldwide, highlighted that Labour should have known that the trend of importing and subsidising petrol was draining the economy and would one day be abolished. He said that anything asides from ending the era of importation of refined petroleum products and reaching self-sufficiency in the sector amounts to promoting poverty and underdevelopment.

‘Labour should focus on real issues of how we can fix our refineries that are getting people paid and promoted without producing anything. They should talk to the federal government on how to give incentives, maybe tax holiday and grants to private actors to build modular refineries so that we can refine petroleum products for our use and also create the jobs that we need.’ He said

‘We can refine so much that Nigeria will be self-sufficient and we will begin to export to our foreign countries. That is what labour should be thinking about and not waiting for any decision of the government so that they can be factored into the negotiation process where something can get to them. It is not working for Nigerians. We are getting tired of this tactics’ he said.

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