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Labour rejects proposed petrol price hike by govt

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Organised Labour has rejected the proposed hike in pump price of fuel to N340 per litre next year.

It warned that an increase in the price of petrol will lead to hyper-inflation and an astronomical rise in the cost of goods and services.

Besides, the trade union said talks over petrol subsidy with the government was inconclusive.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), in a statement by its President Ayuba Wabba, on Wednesday restated its rejection of deregulation based on an import-driven model.

Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer Mele Kyari said on Tuesday that petrol will sell between N320 and N340 per litre from February next year.

He said Nigeria would be out of the subsidy regime in the first quarter of 2022, but that the Federal Government plans to give N5,000 each to 40 million citizens to cushion the effects.

The NLC described the plan as “comical”, saying the amount involved in the “queer initiative” exceeds what is spent on fuel subsidy.

Also on Wednesday, the Senate said there was no budgetary provision for such palliative intervention.

Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, said the Federal Government has not taken a final decision on N5,000 disbursement.

Labour urged the Federal Government to fix the four refineries and make them work.

The statement reads in part: “The response of the Nigeria Labour Congress is that what we are hearing is the conversation of the Federal government with neo-liberal international monetary institutions.

“The conversation between the government and the people of Nigeria, especially workers under the auspices of the trade union movement on the matter of fuel subsidy, was adjourned sine die so many months ago.

Read Also; Petrol to sell for N340 per litre next year, says Kyari


“Given the nationwide panic that has trailed the disclosure of the monologue within the corridors of government and foreign interests, the Nigeria Labour Congress wishes to posit that it continues to maintain its rejection of deregulation based on import driven model.

“It is difficult to convince Nigerian workers why our dear country is the only country among the OPEC member countries that cannot produce its own refined petroleum products and thus adopts the neo-liberal import production model of refined petroleum products.

“We wish to reiterate our persuasion that the only benefit of deregulation based on the import-driven model is that Nigerian consumers will infinitely continue to pay high prices for refined petroleum products.

NLC believes that any attempt to compare the price of petrol in Nigeria to other countries would be set on a faulty premise.

It said such a comparison would be akin to comparing apples to mangoes.

NLC added: “The contemplation by the government to increase the price of petrol by more than 200 per cent is a perfect recipe for an aggravated pile of hyper-inflation and astronomical increase in the price of goods and services.

“This will open a wide door to unintended social consequences such as degeneration of the current insecurity crises and possibly citizens’ revolt. This is not an outcome that any sane Nigeria wishes for.

“The argument that the complete surrender of the price of petrol to market forces would normalise the curve of demand and supply as is being wrongly attributed to the current market realities with cooking gas, diesel and kerosene is very obtuse.

“The truth is that these commodities which Nigeria can easily produce have been priced out of the reach of most Nigerian families with the majority of our people resorting to tree felling and charcoal for their energy needs.

“Finally, we wish to warn that the bait by the government to pay 40 million Nigerians N5000 as a palliative to cushion the effect of the astronomical increase in the price of petrol is comical, to say the least.

“The total amount involved in this queer initiative is far more than the money government claims to spend currently on fuel subsidy.

“Apart from our concerns on the transparency of the disbursement given previous experiences with such schemes, we are wondering if the government is not trying to rob Nigerians to pay Nigerians? Why pay me N5000 and then subject me to perpetual suffering?”

According to the Congress, the government’s decision to remove the petrol subsidy is “cloudy”.

“Clearly, government thoughts on the so-called removal of fuel subsidy is cloudy and appears to be a ‘penny wise-pound foolish’ gamble.

“It is clear that the palliative offered by the government will not cure the cancer that will befall the mass of our people who suffer the double jeopardy of hype-inflation while their salaries remain fixed.

“As we had done several times, we call on the Federal Government to consider various options that can help Nigeria navigate out of the quagmire constructed by the failure of successive governments to embrace developmental governance and accountable leadership. Some of the viable options that can help include:

“Insulate the domestic consumers from the market pressure brought about by the free fall of the naira by arranging with contiguous refineries not far from Nigeria to swap crude oil with refined petroleum products;

“Accelerate work on the rehabilitation of Nigeria’s four major refineries which are all currently operating at near-zero installed capacity; and

“Establish empirical data on the quantity of refined petroleum products consumed daily by Nigerians.

“It is unfortunate that this record remains a myth and a huge crater for all manner of official sleaze and leakages in the downstream petroleum sub-sector of Nigeria’s oil and gas industry.”

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Fuel Subsidy Removal: Don’t paralyse Nigeria’s economy – PFN warns Buhari government

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President of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Bishop Francis Wale Oke has cautioned the Nigerian Government against further aggravating the suffering of Nigerians through the proposed fuel subsidy removal.

He said the removal of fuel subsidy will lead to hikes in the prices of petroleum products.

In a release issued on Sunday by his Media Office, Oke warned that the implementation of such a policy could increase the hardship currently being experienced by the people of the country.

He lamented that prices of consumables and other items were increasingly getting out of reach of the people, noting that if the proposed subsidy removal is done, it would worsen the hardship of the people of the nation.

“Everybody will feel it, particularly the underprivileged. The negative effects will surely outweigh the positive. The cost of transportation for humans and goods across the country will skyrocket and other things connected which will have a spiral effect on the general living standard of the populace; the suffering will be multi-dimensional. Please, let all stakeholders be sensitive to this avoidable path and do the needful,” he said.

Oke said the situation has become worrisome due to the reduction in the purchasing power of Nigerians caused by the continuous fall in the value of the nation’s currency at the exchange market.

The PFN president, therefore, admonished the government to do all it could to revive the four ailing refineries in the country, with a view to ensuring they operate at an optimal level for a lasting benefit for the country and its people.

“By whatever means, let the Federal Government put its heart into ensuring that our refineries are back to life. In addition, in order to stem the rising cost of living, farmers and others connected to them should be encouraged. This is what can help our economy,” the cleric said.

While maintaining that the Christian body would always support policies that would enhance good governance, he urged the government to put in place tangible palliative measures that could ameliorate the hardship being experienced.

“Without begging the issue, there should be well-defined palliative measures in place that can cushion the effect of the hardship being experienced by Nigerians, especially the commoners. One is not talking about political palliatives that never last. We have seen enough of such,” he said.

Continuing, the bishop pointed out that “an increase in the price of petroleum from its present N165 to N340 per litre can trigger tension and crises in the country which in turn can paralyse our economy if not handled with utmost care”.

On the proposed N5,000 to be paid to about 40 million poor Nigerians by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government to ameliorate the effects of the planned fuel subsidy removal, Oke asserted that “Again, the planned introduction of N5,000 for 40 million poor Nigerians is to create a cesspool of corruption. How do you define ‘the poor’? They, mostly, don’t use telephones. They, mostly, don’t have bank accounts. How will the money get to them?”

The renowned cleric advised the government to be wary of policies that could jeopardise the conduct of the 2023 general elections, insisting that all hands must be geared towards steering the wheel of the country to a better place.

As a panacea to the rising cost of food items, the PFN President advised that farmers and relevant stakeholders should be empowered with relevant tools and funds through loans with little interest.

Meanwhile, Oke who is also the presiding Bishop of The Sword of the Spirit Ministries implored the government not to relent in its efforts at ensuring that security challenges in the country become a thing of the past.

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New COVID-19 strain: Planned visit of Ramaphosa to Nigeria raises concern

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Following the outbreak of a new strain of COVID-19 in South Africa and the travel restrictions imposed on Southern African countries by several countries, concerns have been raised over the proposed visit of the South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, to Nigeria.

Barring any last-minute change, President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to receive Ramaphosa and other top government functionaries of his administration, who are scheduled to undertake a three-day visit to Nigeria between November 29 and December 1.

South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases had revealed that there were 22 positive cases linked to the new strain of COVID-19, adding that the percentage testing positive was “increasing quickly”.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) had declared the strain identified as B.1.1.529 as a “variant of concern” and named it “Omicron.”
The heavily-mutated new variant has so far been detected in South Africa, Botswana, and Hong Kong.

This development has prompted the ban of travellers from Southern African countries by the 27-member European Union (EU), and the United States, Britain, Canada, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and UAE.

The EU’s executive “will propose, in close coordination with member states, to activate the emergency brake to stop air travel from the southern African region due to the variant of concern B.1.1.529,” EU chief, Ursula Von der Leyen, had tweeted on Friday.

The EU countries are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.

The US announced on Friday that it would be restricting travel from eight southern African countries over fears of the new variant, which some had expected to be named Nu but which has now been dubbed Omicron.

Travel would be mostly banned starting Monday (tomorrow) from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, and Malawi, a senior official in President Joe Biden’s administration, had reportedly said
However, only US citizens and permanent residents will still be able to travel from the eight countries.

Canada also banned travellers from seven African countries – Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe – over concerns about the variant.
The United Kingdom had also placed South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini, and Zimbabwe on its red list, which means that direct flights from the six countries were banned from Friday until Sunday (today) at 4 am.

Passengers arriving from these countries from today, at 4 am, would have to book and pay for a government-approved hotel quarantine facility for 10 days.

Ramaphosa’s planned visit has raised concerns in Nigeria following the new strain of COVID-19.
“What is the federal government’s dilemma over the visit? Is Nigeria going to receive the South African President and other officials when other countries are banning travellers from South Africa? Is the federal government going to tell them not to come? Under what structure are they going to come?” a top official of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) queried.

The visit will be President Ramaphosa’s first visit to Nigeria in his official capacity as the substantive president since he was elected some three years ago.

He had visited Nigeria in 2018, as the acting president, following the exit of former President Jacob Zuma from office.
There are about 120 South African firms in Nigeria, including the telecommunication giant, MTN, DSTV whose parent company, Multichoice, remains the number one leading player in the cable TV ecosystem in the country.
However, only a few Nigerian firms are operating in South Africa.

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COVID-19: FG directs all civil servants to resume, get vaccinated

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The Federal government has directed civil servants from Grade Level 12 and below to resume work effective Wednesday, December 1, 2021.

Recall that federal civil service workers from Grade Level 12 and below had been working from home following a spike in COVID-19 cases across the country.

In the now-viral circular , the directive, signed by the Head of Service of the Federation, Folasade Yemi-Esan, noted that beginning December 1, all Federal Government workers are requested “to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or present a negative COVID-19 PCR test result done within 72 hours.”

“It will be recalled that as part of the measures to curtail the spread of COVID-19 pandemic, Officers on GL 12 and below were directed to work from home. Following the advice of the PSC on COVID-19, this category of officers are expected to resume duties on Wednesday, 1st December 2021,” the circular reads in part

Recall that the chairman of the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, had earlier announced that beginning December 1, 2021 all Federal Government employees will be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or present a negative PCR result to gain access to their offices.

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