As part of the effort to avert an industrial action, the Federal Government and organised labour unions have began a meeting to discuss the recent increase in fuel price and electricity tariff in Nigeria.
At the meeting, the Federal Government team was led by Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, alongside five other ministers and chief executives of relevant government agencies, while organized labour was led by President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, and President of Trade Union Congress (TUC), Quadri Olaleye.
After long hours of deliberation, the meeting ended in deadlock with none of the parties announcing date for reconvening to address the issue and prevent industrial action in the country.
Welcoming participants, Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, recalled that Nigeria lost N10.413 trillion to subsidy between 2006 and 2019, while between the year 2016 and 2019, it lost N2.193 trillion.
Sylva, in his presentation, titled ‘Understanding the Impact of fuel Subsidy on the Nigerian Economy… and the Gains of Deregulation,” pointed out that if the sector was fully deregulated and the dollar exchange rate was fully factored in, the fuel price would not be N161 but N183 per litre.
He said that with the present price increase, the price of fuel in Nigeria at N161 per litre was still the cheapest in the sub-region, compared with Senegal at N549 equivalent; Cameroon, N449; Benin, N359; and Ghana, N332, among others.
On his part, TUC President, Olaleye, said that the first solution was to reverse the fuel price hike and electricity tariff, pointing out that the TUC had already written the Federal Government and gave seven-day ultimatum for these demands to be met.
He said: “Government should take immediate steps to reverse the hike in prices as it affects Electricity, Petrol and all other social services in the country to the prices they were prior to the increase.; and provide adequate and quality healthcare and education for all to save the poor and the vulnerable at all levels”.
Responding, NLC President, Wabba, said: “With the very thorny issue of fuel price hike, for us as an organization, this is one issue that had been recurring for so many years. I think the only difference at this point in time is COVID-19.
“At the level of NLC, we have done many publications interrogating this issue, using the information provided by government and also putting across options that will be pro-people and also will be able to address the issue”.