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Subsidy Removal: NLC, TUC Meet Senate Leadership, Knock Gbajabiamila’s Panel

“At no time had the Chief of Staff to the President who is always very busy called to negotiate or lead negotiations…  Since our protest, another meeting has not been reconvened.”

The organised labour has expressed doubts over the ability of the Femi Gbajabiamila-led panel to handle the task of negotiating with workers and design measures that would cushion the impact of the removal of petrol subsidy on the citizens following the sudden removal of fuel subsidy.

The National President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Joe Ajaero, expressed the doubts when he led the leadership of the organised  labour unions in the country to visit the Senate leadership.

He told the President of the Senate, Senator Godswill Akpabio that the Gbajabiamila-led panel that was assigned the task by President Bola Tinubu, had not met with the organised labour, two months after the removal of fuel subsidy in Nigeria.

He said, “Part of our challenge is the issue of the committee put in place. The Committee seems not to be capable. As a labour union, we have had a series of negotiations to resolve industrial disputes with government officials in the past.

“At no time had the Chief of Staff to the President who is always very busy called to negotiate or lead negotiations.

“The current development has delayed the issues. Since our protest, another meeting has not been reconvened.

“Although the President promised that he will restructure the mechanism of engagement with the government to help things to be treated fast, we have not seen any improvement.

“We had agreed on a wage award and up till this moment the committee on wage award is yet to sit.”

The NLC President lamented the plight of Nigerians as a result of the removal of fuel subsidy without putting anything on ground to ameliorate the effect  in the country.

He told the senators that while Labour leaders were still deliberating on N537 per liter of fuel and the court had ruled for status quo to remain, surprisingly the government decided to increase the fuel to N620 per litre.

The NLC president said that Congress had no information about the $800 million World Bank loan meant to cushion the effect of the subsidy removal.

He nevertheless urged the federal government not to use the record that was used in the past by the previous administration to disburse the funds.

Ajaero said, “Nothing is yet to happen on the issue of $800 million projected to be borrowed; we have not perfected the list of the people who will benefit from it.

“We should not follow the record that was used in 2019 because we have our doubts about that record. No indices have been put forward to dictate those that are termed poor.”

The President of the Senate appreciated the organised Labour for the patience and understanding to assist the government come up with strategies to cushion the effects of fuel subsidy removal.

He said, “Although the president has saved N1 Trillion as a result of fuel subsidy removal, this government inherited a broke country with debt of over N30 trillion.”

Akpabio, however, assured the aggrieved Labour union members that the Executive was working hard to ameliorate the suffering of Nigerians.

He assured the organised labour of the readiness of the Senate to partner with the labour unions to proffer lasting solutions to the perennial trade disputes in the country.

He said the National Assembly would enact laws that would bring back smiles on the faces of the workers and Nigerians. Both parties thereafter went into closed session after the formal opening ceremony.

Sunday Aborisade