Former labour leader wants NLC to shelve strike

Acheme Jack, Kano

A former labour leader with the Trade Union Congress, TUC, Comrade Paul Jezhi has called on the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, not to embark on the planned nationwide strike due for Wednesday.

Jezhi, in a chat with press men in Kano state, north western Nigeria, urged the organized labour “to embrace dialogue, look at the realities on ground and see reasons to why the subsidy on petroleum products was removed rather than embark on strike.’

He cautioned that the strike might fail as many affiliate bodies of the NLC had indicated that they will not embark on it.

Only on Tuesday in the afternoon last week, the Nigerian government announced the withdrawal of fuel subsidy leading to a pump price increase from N86.50k to N145.00.

Government claimed it has paid out trillions of naira as subsidy, an amount badly needed for infrastructural development across the nation.

Jezhi stressed that the removal of subsidy will debase activities of the cabals who have held the oil sector to ransom over the years.

“The subsidy regime is only beneficiary to the oil marketers and not to the ordinary man on the street. They are the ones that manipulate fuel prices and sell exorbitantly even when government pays them subsidy,” he emphasized.

Paul, who was TUC Chairman in Kaduna state north western Nigeria, enjoined the organized labour to engage the government to explore ways of providing palliative measures that can cushion the effects of the hike in the price of petroleum products..

“The advantages of the removal of the subsidy outweighs whatever negative effect it could be causing presently and that is what I want the labour congress to look into and dialogue with the government to provide palliative measures.

I believe that whatever decision that has been taken on this fuel subsidy is about the future of the country. This thing has been on the table for a very long time let us see the other side of it. I believe President Buhari has a better plan before agreeing on the removal of the subsidy,” he said.

He assured that the deregulation will allow for more participation in the downstream sector which is the largest employer of labour in the oil industry as there will be  more refineries  especially the modular ones recently approved, more vessels to export petroleum products instead of importing, more revenue for the government and the people and more job opportunities.

“And all these will lead to the crash of the oil price which will become lower than what we are paying now.”

He called on Nigerians to eschew ethnic, regional and religious sentiments and support government policies that are geared towards improving their lives and also put the country on the right track of development. “In times like this, we need to make sacrifice for the interest of the nation.”