Progressives Media Organisation (PMO) a media advocacy network for APC is utterly worried over news making rounds that despite the Justice Ibrahim Galadima of the National Industrial Court’s restraining ex parte order against the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC), the labour unions insist on contemptuously embarking on a planned strike on Monday, 28th September, 2020 in protest over petroleum subsidy removal and electricity tariff adjustment.
PMO while admitting that it falls within the constitutional rights of the unions and their affiliates to press home their demands as pressure groups, we must emphasise that such must be carried out within the confines of the laws and constitutionality of Federal Republic of Nigeria. The judiciary is a critical element and indeed the bastion of the democratic governance which we enjoy as a people. When individuals and groups begin to show brazen disregard and disrespect for Rule of Law, they do not only risk losing public sympathy irrespective of how good a case they may have but on the path of inviting anarchy and chaos which may seriously endanger our smooth democratic journey.
As a group and indeed bonafide Nigerians, PMO is not oblivious of the pains our patriots are passing through at this point in our national journey especially coming at a time when the country is reeling under the weight of COVID-19 economic impacts which also affects virtually all other parts of the world.
However, it is noteworthy to state that the political will of President Muhammadu Buhari to remove fuel subsidy which before now only benefits an insignificant fraction of the populace should be greeted with note of commendation.
One visible benefit in the petroleum sector all Nigerians can attest to since this administration came on board is the availability of supply, thereby saving our people several man-hours expended in the queue just to buy fuel at exorbitant prices, a development that made the subsidy regime ineffectual. Again, the trillions of Naira that went into payment of subsidy over the years could be channelled into infrastructure, agricultural revitalisation, healthcare provision and other people-oriented agenda. For the first time in the annals of our country’s history, we are moving away from a period when the government unilaterally fixes petroleum price to an era where international market forces decide the prices of PMS.
PMO wants to categorically state that it has become extremely difficult for the government to afford subsidy especially under the current economic situations. The downturn in the fortunes of oil sector in the international market has led to a loss of about 60% revenue and foreign exchange earnings by the government. Again, the 2020 revised budget does not contain provision for subsidy.
On the service-base tariff increase in electricity, PMO says this will not only increase supply to homes and business premises, but could be the magic wand we need to revive the informal sector and energise small scale businesses which is an economic lubricator. The government cannot continue to shoulder the burden of tariff shortfalls which has so far gulped about 1.7 trillion Naira. It is however regrettable that coincidence brought both developments together.
The labour must understand that all Nigerians stand to gain from the subsidy removal. Upon completion, the Dangote Refinery which is being configured to refine 650,000 barrels of crude per day will be one of such benefits. Government’s effort to bring on board modular refineries will be a great support in the country’s quest to achieve self sufficiency in the sector at a highly competitive pricing.
As a matter of patriotism, respect for Rule of Law, and greater good of all Nigerians, the PMO calls on NLC, TUC and affiliate unions to shield planned strike and explore the option of negotiation for a compromise.
Ag. National Publicity Secretary