The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) on Monday, described plans by the management of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to increase the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) from N145 as “crazy”.
The congress in a statement by Comrade Bobboi Bala Kaigama, President, TUC, and Comrade Simeso Amachree, Ag. Secretary General, TUC made available to NEWSVERGE reads, “Our attention has been drawn to the recent call by the management of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) for an increase in the pump price of premium motor spirit (PMS) from N145. It is annoying that the call came even when the Federal Government is yet to fulfil its promises and agreement reached with organised labour during the protest against the last hike in May this year.
In case the management of the NNPC has forgotten, the economy is in crisis and life has become very difficult for the common man who now can hardly afford two square meals per day. The present minimum wage can longer purchase a bag of rice. Businesses are shutting down leading to millions of job losses, which of course have accentuated increased cases of crime and other vices. If all the members of the NNPC team can offer as recipe to contain this scourge of economic downturn is to hike the price of petroleum products, then they are not fit to manage the sector and should throw in the towel.
If the country had other sources of forex or produces most of what it imports, the economy would not be what it is now. What stops the government from building more refineries and diversifying the economy? The federal government should maintain some stability of forex, taking into cognisance the fact that Nigeria is an import-dependent country. The implication of refining outside the country is enormous: if you are refining outside you must pay for cost of transportation, insurance and port charges, etc. We just cannot continue to tow the same line.
The economy is already on its knees, and it is our thinking that the priority of government now should be how to salvage the situation through other creative and resourceful avenues, such as: downwardly reviewing the cost of governance, creating friendly business environment and jobs, diversifying the economy, setting up an economic team that would creatively fashion out modalities to navigate the stormy waters of recession. If persons in government feel our pains as it claims to do, then the news that people are already exchanging their children for bags of rice should prick their conscience.
The Congress will resist further hike in the price of petrol if that is what it will take to get the government into thinking out of the box. We do hope it doesn’t get to that. We urge the government to fulfil its promises for which it set up the joint Governemnt-labour Committee to determine a new more economically realistic national minimum wage and proffer ways by which pains of the last increment can be ameliorated.”