The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has called for a nationwide strike from Wednesday next week.
NLC is declaring the strike amidst the failure of its meeting with the Federal Government over the declaration by President Bola Tinubu of the end of the “fuel subsidy” program in Nigeria.
NLC had held a meeting of all its affiliate unions on Friday before reaching the conclusion to declare a nationwide strike.
Recall that NLC had earlier met with a Federal Government delegation on the issue without success.
The Federal Government delegation which comprised of Dele Alake, Mele Kyari (Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) , Group Managing Director), Godwin Emefiele (Central Bank Governor) and former Governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomole.
In the meeting NLC had teamed up with its sister union, Trade Union Congress (TUC) to demand the reversal of the removal of the fuel subsidy before any negotiations could begin.
The Labour unions insisted the Federal Government refused to discuss or put forward any palliative measures on the issue and they were left with no choice but to declare a nationwide strike.
The “fuel subsidy” crisis started on May 29th during the presidential inauguration when Tinubu announced the removal of the subsidy policy under which the Government regulates the price of petrol popularly known as Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) and ensures the product is sold at uniform prices around the country.
The problems with the subsidy is that Nigeria, currently has zero refining capacity with the implication that all the petroleum products utilized in the country is imported with scarce foreign currency. Nigeria is about the only major oil producing country that does not refine its oil and relies fully on imports for its local consumption.
This is despite the existence of four publicly owned refineries which are owned by the state owned NNPC. The four refineries currently do not refine any oil. The NNPC is the sole importer of PMS in the country of 200m persons
The announcement by President Tinubu at the inauguration sparked off a scramble for fuel with the attendant queues and scarcity around the country. Tinubu had said the country could not afford to continue the fuel subsidy policy anymore.
The situation was then further exacerbated by the NNPC releasing a new price regime for PMS which showed prices rising by more than 200% with the prices varying around the country. The released prices indicated the new price of PMS was above N500 compared to the previous official price of N185.
This crisis on the first day of an administration that is facing legal challenges to its “mandate” is now a baptism of fire in which the Government will struggle to resolve. The attendant inflation brought about by the new policy would certainly be felt across all sectors in the country. A nationwide strike would be crippling with very bad optics for a new regime struggling to find its feet after hotly disputed elections earlier in the year.