As mobilisation for the January 27 planned protest by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) across the 36 States of the Federation against the planned subsidy removal on Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) gathers momentum, the Union has cautioned that many Nigerians will die of hardship if the subsidy is eventually removed.
President of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba, who made the remarks during an interview on Channels TV, also alleged that Nigerians who are benefiting from fuel subsidy have frustrated the resuscitation of the country’s moribund refineries.
He said, “We are continuing to drag the process to remove the subsidy, the so-called subsidy, I want you to put the word subsidy in quotes.
“Then basically also, you know, what it entails, we have no other option than also to resist the policy and basically we have done that, times without number.
“This is not happening here, only the issue why many Nigerians feel that we ought not to be in this situation is because we have oil.
“God has given us oil freely. What has happened to us that we cannot even refine it. Take for instance the diesel, I said that modular refineries can be built in 12 months or 18 months. Why can’t we do that?
“So, in this complex issue, if we compound it with the price hike of PMS, it then means that many people will go to their graves. So, it’s better we then try to also resist the issue and make sure that people are safe.
“Basically, it’s about life and death for us, those on fixed wages. It is about now looking at the issue, and importantly that the whole world is now in a very precarious situation.
“Many workers have lost their jobs. That one fix wages, their salary cannot take them. That’s the reality.”
The World Bank had said in November last year that Nigeria spends $4.5bn on fuel subsidy, which is about 2 percent of GDP.
However, the Federal Government is expected to fully remove fuel subsidies in July 2022. Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed had said in November 2021 that the Federal Government has only made provision for subsidy up to June 2022 in the 2022 budget.
Also, briefing State House correspondents on the outcome of the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Conference Hall, Presidential villa, Abuja on Thursday, the Governor of Nasarawa State, Abdullahi Sule said it was understandable that the provision for the payment of the subsidy in the 2022 budget only covers till June.
The Council however disclosed that while conservation on subsidy removal has been going on, it was yet to take a position on it.
To reduce the impact on over 40 million poorest Nigerians, there are plans to replace the subsidy with a controversial N5,000 stipend which will last for a year.
In reaction to the proposed subsidy removal, the organised labour had through the leadership of the NLC directed all its state councils to mobilise members for one day nationwide protest in the 36 States of the Federation against the planned petrol subsidy removal on January 27, 2022.
The protest, slated for January 27, 2022, would culminate in the submission of protest letters to all the 36 state governors.