The federal government and the organized Labour failed to reach a consensus on the contentious issue of fuel subsidy removal.
The meeting, which was aimed at addressing the concerns of Nigerian workers regarding the impact of the subsidy removal, ended in a deadlock on Wednesday evening at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The decision to remove the fuel subsidy had triggered immediate hoarding by fuel marketers and panic buying by consumers.
The organised Labour, led by President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Joe Ajaero, and President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Festus Osifo, criticised the government’s approach, highlighting the lack of engagement in exploring alternative solutions.
After the lengthy meeting, Comrade Ajaero expressed the Labour’s demand for the government to return to the status quo.
He stated, “We should go back to the status quo, negotiate, consider alternatives, and assess the effects this action will have on the people if it is implemented.”
Ajaero further pointed out that the subsidy provision had been made until the end of June, questioning why the government was deviating from the law that had already set the expenditure limit.
Responding to the government’s claim of insufficient funds to continue the subsidy, Ajaero challenged the purpose of governance, asking that, “Is it the duty of NLC to raise funds for the government?
“Is it our responsibility to collect taxes or sell crude on the international market when the price is high, while the government, a major importer, claims there is no money?”
When asked about the realism of continuing with subsidy payments, Ajaero redirected the focus, saying, “Why do you keep hammering on subsidy? Do you understand its meaning? Has anyone explained what subsidy is?
“Are there any country, even in the US, that do not subsidise the cost of living, even if it is through public transportation? These are the issues we are considering.”
The President of the TUC, Comrade Osifo, added that the unions would consult with their members before deciding on the next meeting with the government.
Meanwhile, speaking for the government side, Dele Alake described the meeting as a robust engagement, emphasising the shared goal of progress and stability for Nigeria.
Alake stated, “Talks are ongoing, and it’s better for all sides to keep discussing to reach an amicable resolution that benefits all Nigerians in the long run.”
The government’s team included Head of Service of the Federation, Folashade Yemi-Esan; Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), Mele Kyari; Permanent Secretary of the State House, Tijjani Umar; former governor of Edo State and former President of the NLC, Adams Oshiomhole; Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Kachallon Daju; and Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele.