The Federal Government (FG) says contrary to the opinion of some Nigerians, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) neither compromised nor betrayed workers in the negotiations that led to the suspension of its planned strike.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said this on Friday, October 10, when he featured on TV Continental (TVC) call-in programme, ”This Morning.”
The programme, which centred on the achievements of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in Abuja.
1st News had reported that the NLC, the Trade Union Congress and their affiliates recently suspended their planned strike to protest fuel price deregulation and electricity tariff adjustment.
Some critics had condemned the action by labour, accusing its leaders of compromise and betrayal.
Mohammed, a member of the Federal Government’s negotiating team; however, argued that NLC was patriotic by suspending the strike.
He said after days of negotiations, labour agreed with the government; that deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector is a necessity and not an option.
“The moment we lost as much as 60 per cent of our earnings; and suffered a kind of shock in crude oil prices, we must deregulate.
“Between 2006 and 2019, we paid N10.413 trillion in fuel subsidies; an average of N743.8 billion per annum.
“The simple truth is that the government can no longer afford to subsidise PMS; as well as the subsidy has never benefitted the common man.
“What the two parties agreed upon are things that must be done to mitigate the effects of the deregulation on the workers,’’ the minister said.
Mohammed said the government agreed with labour that it would facilitate the setting up of many modular refineries; and rehabilitate existing regular refineries to cushion the effects of the deregulation.
He said the Ministry of Petroleum Resources would intensify efforts to ensure that Nigerians could get alternatives; such as gas to power their vehicles and machinery.
Mohammed said that the first autogas station would be inaugurated and opened to the public in Lagos.
He said the money being saved from the deregulation regime would be used to develop critical infrastructure for the benefit of Nigerians.
The minister also said the joint committee set up by the parties was only to address the grey areas in electricity tariff adjustment.