Why we halted the strike, by NLC


According to the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), delaying the planned strike over the withdrawal of the gasoline subsidy was partially done in compliance with a National Industrial Court (NICN) judgment.

After a lengthy discussion on Monday between representatives of the administration, the Trade Union Congress (TUC), and the National Labor Congress (NLC), the strike was suspended.

Parties agreed to establish a joint committee to review the proposal for any wage increase and establish a framework and timeline for implementation.

They also consented to review and establish the framework for the completion of the rehabilitation of the nation’s refineries, among others.

Parties would meet again on June 19, 2023, to agree on an implementation framework.

Before the announcement, Justice O. Y. Anuwe of the NICN, while ruling on an ex-parte motion by the Federal Government through the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), barred the NLC from going on strike.

“The defendants/respondents are hereby restrained from embarking on the planned industrial action/or strike of any nature,” the court ruled. 

The NLC, after an emergency National Executive Council meeting in Abuja yesterday, clarified that the court order was a contributory factor in the planned strike suspension, even if it could have appealed it.

In a communique by its President, Joe Ajaero and General Secretary, Emmanuel Ugboaja, the Congress faulted the court order, saying it amounted to an abuse of ex-parte injunction.

It directed all affiliates and state councils to suspend mobilisation until the outcome of the negotiations. 

The communique reads: “An emergency National Executive Council (NEC) of the Congress which was called to discuss the outcome of the Dialogue between the NLC and the Federal Government on the petroleum products price hike after extensive deliberation observed that:

“The previous NEC-in-session had ordered a nationwide withdrawal of services and mass protest over the petroleum price hike by the federal government;

“Whereas the Federal Government was in breach of the 2023 Appropriation Act, the NLC will not encourage lawlessness on its part;

“Taking into account that the Federal Government has procured a court injunction restraining Congress from proceeding with the proposed nationwide strike as the NEC-in-session had ordered to begin, Wednesday, the 7th of June, 2023;

“Recognising the willingness of government for continuous engagement through dialogue and to offer reasonable palliatives in due course to cushion the effect of its policies and some levels of understanding reached;

“Considering the mood of the socio-polity last elections and the need to pursue national stability;

“Consequently, the NEC-in-session resolved as follows: to commend and applaud the diligence of the Congress’ leadership in carrying out the assignment given to it by NEC.

“To demonstrate to the Federal Government the need to comply with the laws of the land especially as it concerns obedience to the rulings of the courts and their brazen disregard to the 2023 Appropriation Act

“To, therefore, support and accept the decision of the leadership of Congress to suspend the proposed strike action in compliance with the flawed rulings of the NIC and also allow negotiations to flow freely and enable final agreement during or after the 19th June 2023 negotiation round with the federal government

“To, however, register in strongest terms its disgust and disapproval with the ruling of the National Industrial Court (NIC) for its continuous weaponisation of the instrument of ex-parte injunction in favour of government against the interests of Nigerian workers in defiance of the position of the Supreme Court on the use of this instrument.

“All Affiliates and State Councils of Congress are hereby directed to suspend further action and mobilisation until the outcome of the final negotiations.

“To commend all affiliates and state councils on their robust mobilisation towards a successful nationwide strike action and to also remain vigilant in case there is a need to continue.”

Obi, NEC, Kokori back subsidy removal

Also yesterday, former Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate Peter Obi, the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) and former General Secretary of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Chief Frank Kokori, backed petrol subsidy removal.

Obi said: “I’ve actually been in support of the removal of subsidies right from the President Goodluck Jonathan era when I was a member of the Economic Management team.

“If you have followed me very well right from the time I was a member of Jonathan’s economic management team, I consistently maintained that subsidy should be removed because I see it as organized crime.

“People were just stealing the resources of the country and I showed it empirically in my statistical analysis that we were not consuming the amount of fuel they claimed we consumed.

“I also gave them the ‘tooth pain’ removal analogy that if you approach a dentist to remove a painful tooth, he will apply a local anaesthetic to numb the area around the tooth so you do not feel pain. 

“It’s not the same thing as pulling the tooth forcefully, the pain you feel will be different. 

“For me, I will go with the approach of the dentist, while supporting the removal of the tooth because I wouldn’t want to go through the pain of a forceful removal.

“Recall that even when Jonathan’s government wanted to remove it they came up with various relieving policies like Sure-P and others.

“If you read my manifesto you will see clearly how I planned to remove subsidies. 

“I will govern with the people and show them statistically and empirically what we are going to save, and what we are going to do using the savings to better the suffering masses.

“The problem in Nigeria is that often government tells the masses to suffer and sacrifice, for a better future; but in future things get worse.”

NECA said subsidy removal could unlock over N6 trillion in revenue annually.

Director General, Adewale-Smatt Oyerinde, said subsidy over the years has neither served the interest of the average Nigerian nor has it promoted enterprise sustainability, growth and competitiveness. 

He said: “NECA commends the policy thrust of the new administration as enunciated by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, during his inaugural address. 

“Some of the key issues raised that were germane to the survival of organised businesses and the economy at large include the plan to unify the exchange rates, review of a multiplicity of taxes, strive towards a higher GDP growth rate, improving accessibility and affordability of electricity, investment in infrastructure, the establishment of agricultural hubs, deepening engagement with Organised Private Sector and removal of fuel subsidy.”

Oyerinde emphasised that subsidy removal could unlock over N6 trillion in revenue annually, which can be channelled into infrastructure development. 

He added that reports have shown that less than three per cent of Nigerians (the super-rich), benefit from the subsidy regime.

It urged the government to fast-track the provision of immediate short-term palliatives. 

Kokori believes the subsidy on petroleum products ruined the country.

He said: “Nigeria has no money. You pay subsidy and only a few individuals are enjoying all the billions of naira.

“They are the cartel and they have properties all over the world, private jets, everything and you are subsidising fuel for the whole of West Africa, up to Sudan and Central Africa.

“There is no country in Africa that does not sell fuel for up to one dollar per litre. They have killed Nigeria with subsidies. What did we gain from it?

“Nigeria owes the entire world and we are servicing loans with all the money that we have, so we are broke, we don’t even have money to subsidise fuel; there is no money.

“We all know that Nigeria has been bleeding due to bad government. We are not supposed to be suffering like this; everybody is suffering.” 

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