Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress (TUC) are consulting civil society allies and relevant organs of Labour towards embarking on strike over hike in the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), otherwise known as petrol, from N148 to N161 per litre.
The consultations for strike was disclosed yesterday as the Senate hinted it might hold an emergency session to address worries raised by hike.
The President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba, said in Abuja that the NLC and TUC would convoke a meeting next week to deliberate on modalities for an industrial action. He also said NLC and TUC would visit Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital to protest against alleged clampdown on labour activists by the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike.
Both NLC and TUC accused Governor Wike of demolishing its Rivers State council office on February 2. Wabba alleged the demolition took place when workers started making demands for their entitlements based on new national minimum wage.
On the price hike, he said: “Clearly, the action of the Federal Government is most insensitive and an affront to the Nigerian people who are bearing heavy burden of the COVID-19 pandemic. Everywhere in the world, governments are granting various types of palliative but ours is interested in piling more miseries on its citizens. We will resist this latest move to impoverish the mass of the working people.”
The TUC President, Quadri Olaleye, in a statement, confirmed that consultations had started.He stated that increasing petroleum prices and electricity bills at a time people were losing jobs, when businesses were adversely affected by COVID-19, was a wicked step.
“They have developed a thick skin that our pleas and cries no longer mean anything to them. No government has raped this country like the present one; ironically it has enjoyed our understanding the most. They beat us and when we cry, they send security operatives after us or force us to pay a fine of N5m for ‘’hate speech’’. Our patience has run out,” he said.
IN the meantime, the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) has insisted it does not unilaterally dictate to marketers the price to sell petrol. It said Price Review Committee (PRC), which draws its membership from relevant stakeholders, including Labour, takes the decision.
On their plan to resist the price hike, lawmakers said an emergency session becomes necessary to resolve mounting agitations from within and outside the National Assembly over the hikes.
But when reached to confirm the emergency sitting, the spokesman for the Senate, Ajibola Basiru, said he was out of Abuja for an official party assignment.
It has been learnt the Senate leadership is worried about agitations among senators against the hikes. Senators said they were under immense pressure from their 109 constituencies to protest the hike and seek immediate reversal.
The planned protest will involve different parties and will be led by lawmakers in the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
A world press conference, it has been gathered, will hold at the National Assembly to commence the protest, which is already generating worries for Senate leadership.
It was also learnt consultations were going on at zonal caucuses about the protest, likely to be concluded at the weekend. Many senators said they were disappointed in the hurried manner the fuel price hike was done without consulting the National Assembly.
Commenting on the hike, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Sports, Obinna Ogba, said the increase in electricity tariff and fuel price at a time the economy had yet to recover from the effects of COVID-19, showed government was highly insensitive.
“The government is just showing insensitivity to the plight of Nigerians because by increasing the pump price of petrol and electricity tariff, the suffering of the people will become worse. The whole thing is not funny at all” Ogba said. Another lawmaker said they had received complaints from their constituencies against the increase in the price of fuel and electricity tariff.
“I can tell you legislators are more worried about these price increases because we are closer to the people. Just yesterday when this decision was taken, many lawmakers have been put under serious pressure by their constituents.