Nigeria: NLC Rejects Fuel Price Increase, Wants State of Emergency in Downstream Sector

The pedestrian bridge at Alapere, Lagos. It documents the busy city of Lagos.
17 November 2020

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has called for the reversal of the hike in fuel price announced last week by the government, saying the hike has worsened the misery of Nigerians.

The NLC President, Wahab Waba, made the call in a statement on Monday.

He also urged the government to declare a state of emergency in the downstream sector of the petroleum industry.

On Wednesday last week, the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC) adjusted the ex-depot price of Premium Motor Spirit, also known as petrol, from N147.67 to N155.17.

The agency is a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation in charge of petroleum products marketing and distribution.

The adjustment has pushed up retail pump price from between N161 and N162 per litre to between N165 and N170 per litre across the country.

The NLC said the price adjustment violates the agreement organised labour reached with the government following the previous fuel price increase.

The NLC accused the government of acting in bad faith and of betraying the understanding shown by organised labour to the government's explanation that could not continue subsidising petrol due to lack of fund.

"There is no doubt that there is great disquiet in the land over the extraordinary level of inflation in the country.

"The recent increase in the pump price of the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) has only exacerbated the current level of pain and anguish in the country.

"We condemn the recent price increase and call for its reversal with immediate effect," the NLC President said in a statement in Abuja.

Mr Wabba reiterated the call by Labour for the rehabilitation of the country's four refineries as contained in its agreement with the government.

He said there is a limit to what Nigerians can tolerate if the price of refined petroleum products and other essential goods and services continue to increase.

The government, he said, must not allow Nigerians to continue to bleed over the failure the government to manage the country's refineries.

The NLC called for the prosecution of public officials and private business people who connive to profit from the rot in the petroleum sector and the misery of Nigerians.

While the refineries are being fixed, the labour leader advised the government on how to halt the high prices.

These include the declaration of a state of emergency in the downstream petroleum sector entering into contract refining with refineries in neighbouring countries.

Such an arrangement, he said, would involve supplying crude oil to the refineries at a negotiated price lower than the prevailing international market rate so that the landing cost of the refined products can be significantly reduced.

Also, the NLC wants the government to do more to stamp out the smuggling of petroleum products.

"We need to see big time petroleum smugglers arraigned in the court of law and made to pay for their crimes against the Nigerian people.

"The question in the minds of many Nigerians is if government is willing to go headlong against major financiers of the major political parties known to the public as the architects of the current national woes," he said.

Besides, the NLC advised the government to disseminate information on the distribution of petroleum products to petrol stations so the public would always know what is going on.

The NLC also advised the government to review the process of licensing for modular and bigger refineries, adding that the more public and private refineries play together, the higher the competition and efficiency.

He said organized labour would not accept a monopoly of the country's downstream petroleum sector or the emergence of a cartel of oligarchs.

While awaiting the government's intervention on the crisis, the NLC said in the next few days it would be receiving updates from its monitoring and surveillance teams on the government promise to overhaul the country's public refineries and review of electricity tariffs.

He said these updates would determine whether the government has kept its promise to take steps to recover and reposition the country's refineries.

"The outcome of this engagement will determine our response in the coming days," he warned.

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