This comes amid fuel shortages across the country occasioned by President Bola Tinubu’s inaugural speech in which he declared that “fuel subsidy is gone”.
NLC President Joe Ajaero made the announcement after an emergency meeting of the union’s National Executive Council (NEC) in Abuja.
He said the government, particularly the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited had up until Wednesday next week to revert to the old price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) otherwise referred to as petrol.Ajaero added that failure of the Federal Government to meet the ultimatum would attract an indefinite protest across the country.
On Monday during his inaugural speech at the Eagle Square in Abuja, Tinubu said the era of subsidy payment on fuel has ended, adding that with the 2023 budget making no provision for fuel subsidy, further payment was no longer justifiable.
“The fuel subsidy is gone,” Tinubu said. His government would instead channel funds into infrastructure and other areas to strengthen the economy, he added.
The presidential pronouncement led to an almost instant resurgence of fuel queues across the country with Nigerians foraging for the premium product.Though Tinubu’s decision received backing from the NNPCL and the House of Representatives, it has since been resisted by the NLC and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC).
According to organised labour, the President cannot unilaterally take a decision on subsidy removal.
TUC President Festus Osifo also argued that there was a reason the immediate past administration of Muhammadu Buhari pushed the “sensitive issue” to the new government.
On Wednesday, an hours-long meeting between the Federal Government and the NLC on the matter ended without a consensus.
The Federal Government representatives included Dele Alake, the spokesperson for President Bola Tinubu; the Group CEO of the NNPC Mele Kyari; Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Godwin Emefiele; and former Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole.
On the organised labour’s side, the NLC National President Joe Ajaero; and the President of the TUC Festus Osifo, were present.
The NLC demanded that the Federal Government return to the status quo by reversing the price of fuel before resuming negotiations with labour.
Ajaero insisted that the Federal Government did not enter into any conversation even on palliative measures for Nigerians, hence the rejection of the latest announcement.
The President, who received members of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) led by the Chairman, Hope Uzodinma of Imo State, at the State House, said the national and sub-national governments will work together on the minimum wage, which already requires “soul searching.’’
“We need to do some arithmetic and soul searching on the minimum wage,’’ he said. “We will have to take a look at that together, and the revenue. We must strengthen the source and application of our revenue.’’
In a statement by spokesman, Abiodun Oladunjoye, the President 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 people, adding that he will work for the benefit of Nigerians.“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 said.
The President said that the multiple exchange rates will be streamlined, noting that governance was a continuum.
“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.