The National Executive Council (NEC) of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) held an emergency meeting on the 22nd of September 2020 at the Olaitan Oyerinde Auditorium at NLC National Headquarters, Labour House, Central Business District, Abuja. The National Executive Council of NLC comprises all the Presidents, General Secretaries and Treasurers of NLC’s affiliate unions; Chairpersons and Secretaries of State Councils and the FCT; and members of NLC National Administrative Council.
The meeting was appraised on the outcome of the last emergency meeting of the Central Working Committee (CWC) which took place on September 16, 2020 with an agenda on
the recent increase in the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) also known as ‘petrol’ and the increase in electricity tariff. The NEC was also briefed on the outcome of a meeting between a Federal Government Team and Organized Labour on the increase in the price of petrol and hike in electricity tariff
Furthermore, the NEC was appraised on the increase in Value Added Tax (VAT) to 7.5% and the incessant increases on charges by banks on depositors’ funds and on financial transactions through Nigerian banks.
Considerations of the National Executive Council
- The National Executive Council considered that the increases in the pump price of petrol and electricity tariff were ill timed and insensitive to the sufferings that Nigerians are going through at the moment especially in the wake of the socio-economic dislocations occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic;
- The NEC noted that the increase in energy cost has increased the cost of doing business in Nigeria. This has resulted in hyper-inflation and has eroded gains made by increase in the national minimum wage and threatens to force many local businesses to either close shop or relocate to friendlier business climes;
- It was the well-considered position of the NEC that successive governments in Nigeria have failed to resuscitate our public refineries and even build new ones;
- The NEC observed that the argument for deregulation which has become a recurring decimal for more than three decades in Nigeria is only a guise by successive government to foist perpetual increases in petrol price on Nigerians thus exacerbating poverty;
- On the increase in electricity tariff, the National Executive Council noted that government earned about N400 billion from the privatization of the electricity power sector but has so far spent more than N1.5 trillion on the power sector after the privatization. This clearly shows that the power sector privatization program has failed. The NEC also noted that the investments in the power sector has not translated into improvement in services and increased efficiency in the power sector. The NEC reasoned that government cannot, therefore, transfer the cost of its own failure in the power sector privatization exercise on innocent Nigerians;
- The National Executive Council also described as worrisome the fact that those mainly targeted by the latest increase in electricity tariff are manufacturers, many of whom would be forced to shut down resulting in mass redundancy thus worsening the unemployment and crime situation in Nigeria. The NEC concluded that manufacturers that manage to survive the double jeopardy of high operating costs for their independent power generators and high electricity charges would simply transfer their new costs on already impoverished Nigerians. Ultimately, the dislocations consequent on the increase in the cost of living have eroded the gains of the recent increase in the national minimum wage; and
- The NEC also decried the recent increase of the Value Added Tax to 7.5 percent and the incessant increase in charges on depositors’ funds and banking transactions through the Nigerian banking system as part of the sustained exploitation and deprivation of the Nigerian people especially the working class of Nigeria.
Decisions of the National Executive Council
After a careful consideration of the foregoing socio-economic realities especially in light of the insufferable hardship they present to the working-class family and the masses of our people in Nigeria, the National Executive Council decided as follows:
- The NEC resolved to reject in its entirety the recent hike in electricity tariff by almost 100 percent. NEC also unanimously rejected the recent increase in the pump price of the Premium Motor Spirit and other refined petroleum products. NEC resolved that the price hike is ill-timed and counter-productive especially at this time of Covid-19 induced socio-economic dislocations;
- The NEC resolved that the twin decisions of increase in electricity charges and hike in the pump price of petrol in addition to the increase in VAT and bank charges will further impoverish the already impoverished masses of our workers and citizens and impose huge hardship and suffering on many Nigerian families;
- The NEC resolved that the privatization of the power sector seven years ago has not yielded any tangible result thus NEC concluded that the entire privatization of the power sector has failed and has become an avenue for continuous exploitation of Nigerians;
- On the increase in the pump price of petrol, NEC concluded that whether the hike is perpetrated under the guise of “full deregulation”, or “removal of fuel subsidy”, what is obvious is that the price hike has eroded the gain of the recent increase in national minimum wage as the new petrol price has induced a spiral wave of inflation in the price of goods and services thus further deepening the misery that Nigerians are going through. The NEC therefore resolved that the first response by government to the crisis in our downstream petroleum sector must be to ensure that all our petroleum refineries are working. NEC also resolved that government has business in business since the primary role of government is the welfare and security of citizens;
- In light of the foregoing, NEC resolved to endorse the decision of the CWC of the Nigeria Labour Congress to embark on an indefinite strike action and peaceful protest, to take effect from Monday, 28th September 2020, if government fails to reverse the recent hike in the pump price of petrol and electricity tariff and accede to other ancillary demands by labour; and
- Pursuant to this, the NEC endorsed the decision of the CWC for the NLC to begin a mass mobilization of the Nigerian people, professional groups, religious organizations, market women, the informal sector and Congress civil society allies towards total compliance to the indefinite strike action.
Comrade Ayuba Wabba, mni Comrade Emmanuel Ugboaja, Esq
President General Secretary
22nd September 2020