W3vina.COM Free Wordpress Themes Joomla Templates Best Wordpress Themes Premium Wordpress Themes Top Best Wordpress Themes 2012

Subsidy Removal: Labour Insists On Protest Despite Palliative Measures Rolled Out By The President

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – The organised labour has said it will hold its planned nationwide protest on Wednesday despite the Monday rollout of subsidy removal palliative plans by President Bola Tinubu.

Tinubu had in a national broadcast unveiled a N500bn palliative for manufacturers, small businesses and farmers. He also released plans to increase salaries and acquire 3,000 mass transit buses.

Notwithstanding the President’s last-minute moves to avert the protest, the Nigeria Labour Congress President, Joe Ajaero, said the rally would hold in line with its schedule.

Ajaero spoke shortly after talks between the organised labour and the Federal Government on Monday became inconclusive.   The talk is expected to resume on Tuesday (today).

The Presidential Steering Committee on Palliatives meeting between the government and labour was held at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.

“We just adjourned to go and listen to Mr. President’s speech and to continue with our conversation tomorrow (Tuesday). Our peaceful rally will go on as scheduled…this rally has been fixed,” Ajaero told journalists after the meeting.

Ajaero allayed the fears that the peaceful protest could be taken over by hoodlums, saying that such had never happened in any of its workers’ protest.

However, he said security agencies were responsible for safeguarding workers in such exercises.

The meeting of the steering committee was adjourned till 12noon on Tuesday.

Reacting to Tinubu’s economic reforms especially on the exchange rate and others, Ajaero said “By the time you have a single market (exchange rate) 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 dollar at about N900? Are you going to tell him to sell below the price?

“How are you going to tell even the Discos not to increase their tariff with the high cost of production today? Even corn in the villages that was sold at N18,000 in February; now it’s about 56,000. How are you going to control it?”

On his part, the President’s Chief of Staff, Femi Gbajabiamila, said issues around the subsidy removal were discussed at the closed-door meeting, after which it was later adjourned.

He also said the government was dealing with the oil cabals that have crippled the economy.

He said, “We have been locked behind for a couple of hours, we had a good meeting, issues were thrashed out on the situation in Nigeria today in terms of issues centred around on government intervention on the situation in the country.

“We agreed to adjourn till tomorrow as you know Mr. President is making a national broadcast today. Based on what we anticipate that Mr. President will be telling Nigerians, we decided to adjourn the meeting till 12pm tomorrow (Tuesday) before labour can decide whether or not they want to continue with the protest on Wednesday.”

He added, “But we believe that after tonight broadcast, President will speak to all the issues, he will roll out his interventions and needless to say we believe any reasonable person will tell you that at that point there will be no need for any protest.”

On why the government did not roll out palliatives before ending the subsidy regime, he argued that the previous government did not budget for subsidy and that President Tinubu was rolling out palliatives to cushion its effect on the people.

Also speaking, the National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu, pleaded with the organised labour to give the administration some time to fix the economy.

He said, “The meeting was an opportunity for us to appeal to the labour leaders by extension Nigerians that we are facing difficulties and challenges that are not our making.

“We inherited a very bad situation. Most of the problems people are talking about are not a creation of this government.

“This government is barely two months old and since we have been facing these difficulties and challenges, we have a listening and engaging President, a president who will want to have a conversation and react.”

Present at Monday’s meeting were Ajaero, his counterpart from the TUC, Festus Osifo; the General Secretary of NLC, Emma Ugbaja; the TUC Secretary, Nuhu Toro and other members of the organised labour delegation including Prof. Sam Amadi.

On the FG’s side were the President’s Chief of Staff, Gbajabiamila; Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Dr Folashade Yemi-Esan; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Kachollom Daju; the Group Chief Executive Officer of Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, Mele Kyari; and the Special Adviser to the President on Energy, Olu Verheijen, among others.

Also, the NLC National Assistant Secretary, Chris Onyeka, said, “Our protest is irreversible, and it is a mass protest. Remember that we did not issue the notice based on the other increases. Ours is based on the N617 price increase in Premium Motor Spirit. The Federal Government has to deal with that first.”

Meanwhile, Tinubu on Monday announced the release of N500bn palliative even as he promised a new wage for workers.

In a move to assuage the agony of Nigerians who are smarting from the pains of the fuel subsidy removal, the President also said 3,000 buses would be provided to address the high transportation fares occasioned by the hike in fuel pump prices.

Tinubu reeled out the promises in a nationwide broadcast on Monday evening titled, ‘After darkness comes the glorious dawn.’

The announcement is coming less than 24 hours to a planned strike and protests by the Nigerian Labour Congress over the removal of the fuel subsidy and the failure of the Federal Government to implement palliatives to cushion the attendant hardships.

But taking time to explain the reasons for the policy measures his administration had so far taken to combat the economic challenges facing the country, the President disclosed plans to roll out 3,000 CNG-fuelled mass transit buses in states and local council areas.

He said the Federal Government is working closely with states and local governments to implement interventions that will cushion the pains of the populace across socio-economic brackets.

Part of the programme, according to him, is to roll out the buses across the states and local governments for mass transit at a much more affordable rate.

He said his administration planned to invest N100bn between now and March 2024 to acquire 3,000 units of 20-seater CNG-fuelled buses.

The buses, he said, would be shared to major transportation companies in the states, using the intensity of travel per capital, adding that participating transport companies will be able to access credit under this facility at 9 per cent per annum with 60 months repayment period.

Tinubu stated, ‘’In the same vein, we are also working in collaboration with the labour unions to introduce a new national minimum wage for workers. I want to tell our workers this: your salary review is coming.

‘’Once we agree on the new minimum wage and general upward review, we will make budget provision for it for immediate implementation.’’

According to him, manufacturers, medium and small scale enterprises and farmers will get a whopping N500bn share of the palliatives that would be rolled out.

He said, ‘’ Our plan to support cultivation of 500,000 hectares of farmland and all-year-round farming practice remains on course. To be specific, N200bn out of the N500bn approved by the National Assembly will be disbursed as follows:

“Our administration will invest N50bn each to cultivate 150,000 hectares of rice and maize. N50bn each will also be earmarked to cultivate 100,000 hectares of wheat and cassava.

To ease the hardship, he said his administration desired to reduce the burden the current economic situation has imposed on citizens, businesses, the working class and the most vulnerable.

The President noted, ‘’Earlier this month, I signed four Executive Orders in keeping with my electoral promise to address unfriendly fiscal policies and multiple taxes that are stifling the business environment.

‘’These Executive Orders on suspension and deferred commencement of some taxes will provide the necessary buffers and headroom to businesses in the manufacturing sector to continue to thrive and expand.

‘’To strengthen the manufacturing sector, increase its capacity to expand and create good paying jobs, we are going to spend N75bn between July 2023 and March 2024. Our objective is to fund 75 enterprises with great potential to kick-start a sustainable economic growth, accelerate structural transformation and improve productivity.

He further underscored the positive impact of the removal of the subsidy, saying it had increased the government revenues.

He explained that over N1tn had been saved within two months, which the government would channel into education loan and other programmes.

‘’In a little over two months, we have saved over a trillion naira that would have been squandered on the unproductive fuel subsidy which only benefitted smugglers and fraudsters. That money will now be used more directly and more beneficially for you and your families.

 ‘’For example, we shall fulfill our promise to make education more affordable to all and provide loans to higher education students who may need them. No Nigerian student will have to abandon his or her education because of lack of money,’’ he pledged.

He regretted the unavoidable lag between subsidy removal and the palliative implementation, adding that the government is swiftly closing the time gap.

The President said he was monitoring the effects of the exchange rate and inflation on gasoline prices, promising to intervene if and when necessary.

Speaking on the multiple exchange rate system which had been scrapped, Tinubu described it as ‘’a highway of currency speculation.’’

He said it was used to divert money that should have been used to create jobs, build factories and businesses for millions of people.

‘’Our national wealth was doled on favourable terms to a handful of people who have been made filthy rich simply by moving money from one hand to another. This too was extremely unfair,’’ he lamented, stressing that it also compounded the threat that the illicit and mass accumulation of money posed to the future of the nation’s democratic system and its economy.

Tinubu reiterated his promise to reform the economy for the long-term good by fighting the major imbalances that had plagued it.

Ending the subsidy and the preferential exchange rate system were key to this fight, he explained.

‘’As we moved to fight the flaws in the economy, the people who grow rich from them, predictably, will fight back through every means necessary,’’ the President submitted.

On the Infrastructure Support Fund, the President said it would  enable the states to intervene and invest in critical areas and bring relief to many of the pain points as well as revamp their decaying healthcare and educational Infrastructure.

 ‘’The fund will also bring improvements to rural access roads to ease evacuation of farm produce to markets. With the fund, our states will become more competitive and on a stronger financial footing to deliver economic prosperity to Nigerians,’’ he assured.

Short URL: https://www.africanexaminer.com/?p=89803

Leave a Reply

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

Zenith bank



Classified Ads

Like us on Facebook

advertise with us