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Subsidy Removal: NLC Plans Nationwide Action



NLC Protest

Following the announcement by President Bola Tinubu in his inaugural speech last Monday after being sworn in that the oil subsidy is gone which immediately prompted a nationwide hike in the pump price of petroleum products, a showdown is imminent between the organised labour and the one-week-old government.

This is just as President Tinubu has assured that his government would review the minimum wage of workers to reflect current realities even as petroleum products marketers have said that the pump price of petrol will further be increased next week.

Reacting to the increase in the price of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, following the withdrawal of subsidy by the government, the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, yesterday gave the government an ultimatum of Wednesday next week to revert to the old price of N194 per litre or it would direct its members to withdraw their services nationwide.

Labour, therefore, asked President Tinubu to direct the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, NNPCL, to revert to the old pump prices of petrol or face industrial action.

It also directed all its affiliates unions and state councils to commence mobilisation in case the government through the NNPCL refuses to revert to the old pump price of PMS.

Briefing journalists after its extensive National Executive Council, NEC, meeting in Abuja, President of NLC, Joe Ajaero noted with regret that NNPCL on Wednesday jerked up the pump prices of PMS by over 200 per cent bringing the price of fuel to between N488 and N557 per litre.

Ajaero said after a unanimous decision of all NLC affiliates, unions were directed to commence mobilisation immediately ahead of the planned nationwide protest.

According to him, “The NLC decided that if by Wednesday next week the NNPCL, a private limited liability company, that illegally announced a price regime in the oil sector, refuses to revert itself for negotiation to continue, that the NLC and all its affiliates, will withdraw their services and commence protests nationwide until this is complied with. The NNPCL doesn’t have the monopoly to act illegally even as a private company. The NLC NEC, therefore, directed all state councils and all industrial unions to commence mobilisation from this moment to make sure that this action is enforced. The action has commenced at this moment”.

Ajaero then called for a probe of the subsidy regime in the past eight years, the amount paid on subsidy and the beneficiaries of the payment. The labour leader also urged the NNPCL to ensure a proper account of the amount of petroleum products Nigerians consume daily. He accused the NNPCL of refusing to disclose beneficiaries of subsidy and landing cost of petroleum products.

He said: “The Nigeria Labour Congress is calling for a thorough probe in the process of subsidy to know those involved and the amount involved. Investigate it properly before it is swept under the carpet. The current attempt to sweep the fraudulent practices in the subsidy regime should not be tolerated by all well-meaning Nigerians”.
Recall that President Bola Tinubu after taking the oath of office as the 16th President in his inaugural speech on May 29, announced that fuel subsidy is gone.

The announcement triggered a hike in the fuel pump price less than 24 hours after the announcement and it has also caused more economic hardship to Nigerians. The announcement has attracted the ire of organised labour. A meeting with the federal government team and organised labour on Wednesday ended in a deadlock. Both parties are however expected to resume negotiations on Sunday.

Minimum wage needs review — Tinubu

Meanwhile, President Bola Tinubu on Friday said that the national minimum wage needs a review to reflect realities, assuring that improved livelihood for Nigerians remains a top priority of his administration, with more people-focused economic policies.

President Tinubu also advised national and sub-national governments to work together on the issue, which, according to him, already requires “soul searching.’’ This is as the All Progressives Congress, APC, governors under the umbrella of Progressive Governors Forum, PGF, have thrown their weight behind the removal of oil subsidy

Speaking when he received members of the PGF led by the Chairman, Senator Hope Uzodinma of Imo State, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, President Tinubu said that there was a need to look at the minimum wage
According to him, “We need to do some arithmetic and soul searching on the minimum wage. We will have to take a look at that together, and the revenue. We must strengthen the source and application of our revenue.’’

President Tinubu urged the governors to seize the opportunity of being chosen among millions of citizens in their states to make a difference in the lives of the people, adding that he would work for the benefit of Nigerians.

He said, “This meeting is not strange to me, and the content of the meeting is so valuable. The camaraderie is very stimulating. This is about the Nigerian project, not Bola Tinubu.” He also assured that the multiple exchange rates will be streamlined, noting that governance was a continuum.

He said, “I have inherited the assets and liabilities of my predecessor. This is the first time you entered the Council Chambers, and it is my first time too for a meeting. As progressives and thinkers under the umbrella of the All Progressives Congress (APC), you have a role to play in educating our people and making sure we manage ourselves.’’

The President told the governors that it was a good and encouraging sign that the APC has a majority in the National Assembly and some Houses of Assembly, which will make it easier to develop policies that will directly impact the economy and the people.

“If we work together, the Nigeria of our dreams is not far away. Rest assured that we will not have multiple exchange rates anymore. You asked for this meeting, and I had to set aside time to be here.
“We have a political party that we will need to manage, whichever way, we have inherited assets and liabilities, and we cannot complain,’’ he stated.

President Tinubu said he would maintain an open-door policy, willing to entertain issues, deliberate, and collectively find solutions to the challenges facing the country, including security.

“It is in our hands, and I am ready to work and listen at any time,’’ he added.

In his remarks, the Vice President, Kashim Shettima, called on the governors to rally around the President as he tackles the challenges that stagnate the economy, like the oil subsidy and multiple exchange rates.
“Let us rally around the President and not buckle. There are vested interests that may want to resist the subsidy removal. Its removal will free resources for the development of your states,” he added.

Earlier, the Governor of Imo State pledged the support of the Progressive Governors to the President, noting that the initial decisions already foretell good intentions for the economy.

“We are here today as members of the APC to fraternize with you as our leader, and congratulate you on your election as President, and Commander-in-Chief. We are using this opportunity to express our support for you at this trying time in our history,’’ he said.

Uzodinma noted that the President had started well, by placing the economy and welfare of the people on a priority list, with honesty of purpose. We are aware of your capacity and excellent track record,’’ the PGF Chairman stated.
Speaking to correspondents later, Uzodinma, declared that Tinubu never prepared the 2023 Appropriation Act that did not provide for subsidy payment beyond June this year, and therefore, he was not the one that directed the cessation of subsidy payment.

Uzodinma, who noted that all the presidential candidates promised to remove subsidies if elected, also said that since every government must inherit assets and liabilities from preceding governments, subsidy removal was part of the liabilities taken over by the Tinubu administration.

The PGF boss recalled that even the National Economic Council (NEC) led by former Vice President Yemi Osinbajo also agreed that subsidy must go.

He said petroleum subsidy was no longer sustainable as he said it was pulling the country down. Uzodinma noted that it has come to the point where it was either managed or it would kill the country.

Uzodimma lamented the sudden adjustment of petroleum pump prices in less than 24 minutes the President announced that the subsidy is gone. Describing it as man’s inhumanity to man, the governor contended that the product that was hiked was still the old product that enjoyed the subsidy.

“I am not aware any fuel marketer has imported fuel,” he said.

Marketers set for an additional hike in fuel price

In a related development, there are indications that the pump price of petrol will be further increased next week as petroleum products marketers alleged that petroleum products deport owners have already effected a fresh markup on their ex-deport prices to N488 per litre. The ex-deport prices were jerked up to N467 on Tuesday following the announcement of the removal of fuel subsidy by President Bola Tinubu the previous day.

With the latest development, marketers are looking at selling the product at about N510 in the filling stations in Lagos and between N520 and above in other locations across the country.

Dropping this hint in an Arise TV news program monitored from Lagos yesterday, the National Operations Controller, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, Mr. Mike Osatuyi, stated that the development became inevitable following the present stance of deport owners as well as covering the replenish cost for its members.
Narrating the ordeals of independent petroleum products marketers since this week, Osatuyi further stated: “We are in support of deregulation but the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited, NNPCL, despite having old stock have told our members to pay the new ex-deport price of N488 per litre within two days of removing the subsidy. Our members are made to pay N21 million for a truck, they had initially paid about N7million – N7.5 million and were about to take deliveries before the subsidy removal. Now they are expected to pay a difference of a million to make up for a truck. So members who have old stock will increase their pump price to N500 or more per litre in Lagos.

On the benefits of the subsidy removal, Osatuyi said that “with Dangote refinery bailing us out of the non-functional refineries available, we will produce more than what we need in the country and about $21 billion will be saved from refining locally and the removal of fuel subsidy.

“The breakdown is that about $ 10 billion will be saved in terms of buying products abroad and bringing in into Nigeria and also $ 11 billion will be saved on subsidy which gives a total of $21billion. What this means is that there will be less pressure on foreign exchange while the naira will continue to have value, also Gross Domestic Product, GDP, will go up and there will be employment. The issue of fuel scarcity and queues will go forever and there will be the safety of lives and property” he added.

He explained that about N30 per litre will be removed from the current cost of fuel by refining locally, adding, “These savings will come from the elimination of freight and other charges. Also, charges from agencies, such as the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, and National Inland Waterways Authority, NIWA, will be minimal.

“Also, the consumption volume of 60 million litres per day will crash to 40 million litres with the implementation of subsidy removal as we finance neighbouring countries’ consumption, therefore, the difference can be used on major infrastructures” he added.


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China Reaffirms Commitment To Nigeria, Renovates Ogun School



The Chinese Consul-General, Lagos, Yan Yuqing, has reiterated the commitment of the People’s Republic of China towards assisting Nigerian government to develop its education sector.

The Chinese Consul-General disclosed this during the commissioning of renovated China-Nigeria Friendship Model Primary School, Igbesa in Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government Area of Ogun State.

Yuqing said China is quite convinced that education is the foundation of national development and a weapon to fight poverty.

He said China is always willing to partner with her host country to make meaningful investment in the critical sector

The projects sponsored by the Chinese Consulate and Ogun-Guangdong Free Trade Zone included a block of classrooms, cafeteria, as well as donation of educational materials to the pupils of the school.

Yuqing said, “Chinese admire that education is the foundation of national development in the long run and strong weapon to fight poverty. All modern countries in the world do not fail to attach importance to education. As the largest developing country in the world, China has made remarkable achievements in all aspects of social development.

“These achievements are inseparable from our unswerving implementation of the strategy of invigorating China through science and education. And we always place education in a strategic position of priority development. We will continue to support Nigeria’s education system in all areas”.

She added, “Eleven years ago, the construction of this school began. Since then, this school has become a bridge of friendship and understanding between Nigeria and China and it has witnessed sincere friendship from China.

“Today, you can see here, the classrooms are more spacious, the campus is more beautiful, and the facilities are more complete. I hope that all the children will study harder in these improved classrooms and strive towards achieving their goals as soon as possible”.

While advising the pupils, the Consul-General said, “Children education is related to the future of a country; now you are the future of Nigeria. Work hard and fight for a better tomorrow for the prosperity of Nigeria.”

The Deputy-General, China-Africa Investment, Kevin Liu, said the China-Nigeria Model School stands for knowledge, cultural exchange, and mutual understanding, saying, “These values promote global peace and cooperation and we are committed to maintaining this standard for generations to come”.

Governor Dapo Abiodun, who was represented by a Commissioner-designate,Mr. Sesan Fagbayi, disclosed that the project would no doubt further foster smooth bilateral relationship with the Chinese government.

Abiodun has however appealed to the residents of Igbesa to continue to cooperate with the Chinese investors for peace and friendly environment in order for their businesses to thrive.

The Oloja-Ekun of Igbesaland, Oba Oluwatoyin Akinde, represented by Otunba Ade Durojaiye, lauded the Chinese Consulate and Ogun-Guangdong Free Trade Zone for the project pleading for more support in developing the town.

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Fresh Strike Looms As NLC’s Ultimatum Expires Today



AS the ultimatum by the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, to the Federal Government to address the mass suffering and pains occasioned by the removal of subsidy on petrol expires today, the leadership of the Congress will meet next week to decide when to begin an indefinite nationwide strike.

But Vanguard gathered that the Vice President, Senator Kashim Shettima, has been meeting with some members of the government team on how to avert the strike.

It was also gathered that the Minister of Finance, Wale Edun, and the Minister of Labour and Employment, Simon Lalong, alongside the Vice President, are putting together a package, including wage awards, to be presented to the NLC leadership.

It will be recalled that NLC had between Tuesday, September 5 and Wednesday 6 embarked on a two-day nationwide warning strike to protest, among others, perceived government insensitivity to plights and sufferings of Nigerians, especially workers, following the subsidy removal.

Ahead of the warning strike, the National Executive Council, NEC, of NLC had issued within 14 working days or 21 days from September 1, 2023, an ultimatum for the government to address the excruciating mass suffering and the impoverishment experienced around the country, threatening an indefinite strike if government failed to address its demands.

As the 21-day ultimatum expires today, Vanguard learned that critical organs of NLC will be meeting next week to decide on the indefinite strike and modalities if nothing concrete was done to lessen the suffering and hardship of Nigerians.

A source said: “The issue is conventional, when an ultimatum expires, you call your organs and the organs will decide when to commence the strike. If we ever decide to say we would take one day or few days or one week to prepare for it, that would be their position.”

Pressed to be more categorical on whether the strike would commence immediately, one of the sources privy to the NLC meetings simply said “Nothing is impossible.”

‘Meeting to hold on a date for the strike to begin’

Another source told Vanguard that the “last NEC held on September 1, 2023, has actually given the leadership of NLC, especially members of the National Administrative Council, NAC, the go-ahead to meet, fix a date for the commencement of the indefinite strike and communicate to the state councils and industrial union affiliates.

“I can tell you that the leadership will meet next week and fix a date for the strike. However, if NAC members are convinced that the government has addressed our demands to an appreciable level, in such a case, the leadership will still call the organs to brief them of the development.”

‘Govt team working to avert strike’

The source, however, said available information revealed that the government team is working seriously to avert another round of industrial unrest by NLC.

He said further that both the minister of finance, and the vice president, who is standing in for the President who is attending the United Nations General Assembly, UNGA, Summit in New York were considering some figures.

“So they know the seriousness of the planned action and some of them are speaking out boldly that they are not afraid because of the package they have for workers.

“Available information is that the government will soon announce what it has. They are really making efforts and again the President is not in the country.

“What we don’t know is whether what they have will be enough for NLC to consider or not. In the past two to three days, the vice president has been meeting with some of the government team to come up with something. “

The source made it clear that the NLC leadership had said it would not be part of any meeting if there were no tangible packages for workers.

Attempt to get a reaction from the Presidency did not yield any results as the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Chief Ajuri Ngelale, is out of the country.

The presidential spokesman is with the President in New York for the UNGA summit.

Recall that while briefing last Friday, after its NEC’s meeting, NLC President, Joe Ajaero, said: “NEC-in-session of NLC resolved to embark on a total and indefinite shutdown of the nation within 14 working days or 21 days from today until steps are taken by the government to address the excruciating mass suffering and the impoverishment experienced around the country.

“To commence a two-day warning strike on Tuesday and Wednesday, 5th and 6th September 2023 to demonstrate our readiness for the indefinite strike later in the month and to also demand that the state vacates the illegally occupied national headquarters of the National Union of Road Transport Workers. “

The NLC also resolved to embark on a mass protest and rally in Imo State within September, and equally raised the alarm over what it described as a renewed onslaught by the government and its agents on labour unions.

Ajaero explained that the proposed strike was necessitated by the government’s deliberate neglect and disregard to engage the relevant stakeholders through the channel of social dialogue.

He said the Federal Government had refused to engage and reach an agreement with organized labour on critical issues on the consequences of the unfortunate hike in prices of petrol which had unleashed massive suffering on Nigerian workers and masses.

Ajaero said: “There is a renewed onslaught against trade unions and its leadership by the state and its agents across Nigeria.

‘’The Police, under the instruction of certain forces peddling the name of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, invaded and occupied illegally the national headquarters of the National Union of Road Transport Workers headquarters seeking to install its own executive.”


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Kogi Declares Free Education In Primary, Secondary Schools; Commences Distribution Of Palliative



The Kogi government on Thursday declared free education for indigenes at primary and secondary school levels.

Governor Yahaya Bello made the declaration in Lokoja when he inaugurated the distribution of the federal government’s palliatives to cushion the effects of subsidy removal.

“My administration has now declared free education from primary to secondary school in the state and will cover examination fees for WAEC, NECO, and JAMB for all indigenes of Kogi,” he declared.

Mr Bello, who commended the federal government’s efforts to mitigate the impact of fuel subsidy removal on citizens, said the palliatives, which were valued well in excess of N2 billion,  would reach intended beneficiaries regardless of political, religious, or ethnic affiliations.

He extended his gratitude to President Bola Tinubu for the idea.

“Already, all the local government areas of the state have commenced the distribution of rice and other essential items.

“Therefore, this launch is essentially an extension of our ongoing efforts to cushion the impact of the current policy on our citizens.

“We are not only distributing rice but also making cash available to reach the people. The total value of what we are launching for distribution today exceeds N2 billion, and it is intended to reach every household in Kogi,” he stated.

He emphasised that those responsible for the distribution must not discriminate, warning that any report of bias or favoritism, or hoarding would be dealt with accordingly.

The governor, who called on security agencies to ensure a peaceful and smooth distribution process, assured the people that more initiatives to alleviate hardship were in place.

He commended the state’s people for their support for Mr Tinubu’s administration and the New Direction administration in Kogi, which had prioritised the welfare of residents.

While mentioning the various infrastructure developments that had taken place across the state, Mr Bello expressed confidence that the governorship candidate of the APC, Usman Ododo, when elected as his successor, would continue to build on the current achievements. 


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