Oil Subsidy: MINILS boss calls for dialogue between Nigerian Government, Labour

By Tunde Akanbi, Ilorin

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The Director General of Micheal Imoudu National Institute for Labour Studies (MINILS), Comrade Issa Aremu has called for policy dialogue and discussions between government and relevant stakeholders on the issue of deregulation.

As the organized labour kicks against an end to the controversial fuel subsidy regime by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in his inaugural address, there is need for “a continuous policy dialogue” out of the impasse.

In a statement made available to journalists in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital in North Central Nigeria, Aremu expressed optimism that through exchange of facts, negotiations and compromises, both the government and labour would find common ground for the inevitable reform of the petroleum downstream sector which the sector unions, namely PEGASSAN and NUPENG have been pushing for years.

He recalled that Petroleum products supply and pricing had always been an acid test for successive governments in Nigeria.

However, the Director General observed that what makes the current reform different is that there is a national consensus among all stakeholders that prohibitive costs of subsidizing a single product (PMS) in the wake of declining public revenue and other national needs are unsustainable.

In addition, he said the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), with all its imperfections has rightly unbundled NNPC and legitimized deregulation.

Aremu said “neither policy reversal or mass protest is an option”, but “genuine negotiation and social dialogue would make the deregulation policy a reality without compromising the welfare of the citizens with respect to welfare and secured jobs”. 

Comrade Aremu commended the initiative of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for meeting with labour leaders which according to him, pointed to his sensitivity as “not only labour friendly but a leader that is accessible and open to engagement”. 

He therefore challenged labour and civil society to reciprocate the presidential gesture with creative options that would protect the existing public and private jobs through better remuneration to cushion the inflationary pressures and create more decent jobs, adding that President Tinubu had even alluded to new minimum wage.

Comrade Aremu said the current policy contestations and discourse are good for national development saying what is needed is to “work out win-win options” for the petroleum downstream sector in particular and Nigeria as a whole.

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