Benson Upah, Head of Information and Public Affairs, Nigeria Labour Congress, has said that at the time President Bola Tinubu announced the removal of petrol subsidy during his inaugural speech, it was expected to run till the end of June, so he was breaching the appropriation act without recourse to the National Assembly. and a few days after that, the pump price in Nigeria was raised.
“On May 29th at the Eagle Square, while the dust was yet to settle, President Tinubu announced with all the candour and arrogance of a president that the subsidy is gone. At the time President Tinubu removed it, the subsidy was expected to run till the end of June, so he was breaching the appropriation act, and the consequence of breaching that act is an impeachable offense,” Upah said in an interview with ARISE News on Wednesday.
He went further ahead to say that “If a president violates the appropriation act without recourse to the National Assembly, it is a very serious offense, and President Tinubu did that.”
He continued that the NLC was going to go on a protest after the subsidy had been removed and pump prices had risen. Nigerians were outraged and waiting for the protest, but the government reached out to the NLC.
“We had two meetings, and while the second meeting was held, the government acted in bad faith by procuring a restraining order from the court to stop the protest while it lured the NLC to the villa for negotiations.
“For the benefit of Nigerians, we had to listen to the government and their promise to meet the demands of the NLC, which they breached.
The Head of Information and Public Affairs, Nigeria Labour Congress, further said that no reasonable government leaves its national currency to the forces of the market because if you do, there will be unintended consequences, and causing the naira to float began with increasing Nigeria’s debt stock from 72 trillion naira to 81 trillion naira.
He said any reasonable CBN governor must be able to manage their currency and not leave it to the forces of the market, and to that end, he gives credit to the Buhari administration and Emefiele as CBN governor.
Upah stated that Tinubu is a new president who had one month to consult with critical stakeholders but instead took major decisions on a whim without any consultations with a cabinet.
He further made it clear to Nigerians that the NLC decided not to protest the first time, not because they are friends with the presidency but because the government spoke to them in good faith but they ended up not holding their end of the bargain.
He said, “The government failed on an MOU it voluntarily drafted and signed, and the government conceited itself into an autocracy by acting in defiance of what it wrote and signed.”
He concluded by saying, “The government was comfortable with saying they would give N8,000 to 12 million families; N8,000 Naira is an insult when 200 million Nigerians are fundamentally poor and more are about to join them after the devaluation of the Naira and pump prices.”
He further expressed his concerns that “The president agreed to appropriate 70 billion naira for national assembly members who are not up to 450 people; he also agreed to appropriate 35 billion to the judiciary; calculate this per person, and you are sending 8,000 per 12 million Nigerian families. Can 8,000 take you to the office for up to two days?”