The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has kicked against the decision of the Federal Government through the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) to cap the prices of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) better known as petrol, insisting that the announcement of a new regime of prices under a new pricing template runs contrary to the principle and spirit of deregulation of the downstream, and social dialogue.
Comrade Joe Ajaero, NLC’s President, made this known in a statement released on Wednesday and obtained by EnergyDay.
According to him, the NLC is worried that the Government through the NNPC – despite the ongoing meeting of stakeholders in the oil and gas sector to manage President Bola Tinubu’s withdrawal of subsidy on petroleum products – went ahead to announce a new regime of prices under a new pricing template.
Ajaero said, “This is an ambush and runs against the spirit and principles of Social Dialogue which remains the best platform available for the resolution of all the issues arising out of the petroleum downstream sector.
The NLC’s President said that that the government cannot in one breathe be talking about deregulation and at the same time fixing the prices of petroleum products. This according to him, negates the spirit of allowing the operation of the free market unless the government has as usual usurped, captured, or become market forces.
He said, “It is therefore unacceptable and we seriously condemn it. Good faith negotiation is key to reaching an agreement. What the government has done is like holding a gun to the head of the Nigerian people and bringing undue pressure on the leaders thus undermining the dialogue.
The NLC has therefore called on the federal government to immediately instruct the NNPC to withdraw what it described as a vexatious pricing template to allow the free flow of discussions by the parties.
Ajaero said, “Nigerians would not accept any manipulations of any kind from any of the parties, especially from the representatives of the Government.”
He emphasised that the commitment of dialogue by all parties is buoyed by the fact that all the parties would be committed to ensuring that it is carried out within the ambits of liberty without undue pressure. He further revealed that the release of NNPCL’s template may not allow the negotiating team to continue the dialogue, adding that the government is trying to scuttle the process.
The NLC’s President said that the federal government has become fixated on its chosen course of action. He revealed that there must be flexibility to allow concessions and reasonable accommodation that will produce the best result for the Nigerian people.
EnergyDay gathered that the meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, between the representative of the Federal Government, Dele Alake, the spokesperson for President Tinubu; and Mele Kyari. Group CEO, NNPCL, Godwin Emefiele, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), former Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole and organised labour, represented by Ajaero; and Festus Osifo, President of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) in respect of petrol subsidy removal ended without a consensus, on Wednesday.
The organised labour insisted that the government must reverse the price of fuel before resuming negotiations, insisting that they would reconvene with their members to determine the next line of action.
Alake, the President’s spokesperson on his part described the dialogue with the labour as robust, adding that the parties would reach a reasonable conclusion at its next adjourned meeting.