Sunday, June 26, 2011

Nigerian Labour Activists Vow to Resist Deregulation of Petroleum Products

Labour, TUC, Rights Activists Vow To Resist Deregulation Of Petroleum Products

Sunday, 26 June 2011 00:00
Nigerian Guardian
By Marcel Mbamalu, Wole Shadare, Geoff Iyatse (Lagos) and Collins Olayinka

THE battle line is now drawn between labour and state governors that are threatening not to implement the new minimum wage until their revenue profile rises significantly.

This comes as Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, restated the position of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), which had risen from its meeting in Abuja last week, with a proviso that unless petroleum subsidy is removed, state governors would not be able to implement the N18,000 minimum wage.

The Ekiti State Govenor explained that the NGF wanted the Federal Government to remove the oil subsidy because the development would help the states raise enough money to pay the minimum wage.

According to him, those benefitting from oil subsidy were people who are relatively rich in society.

Fayemi, who described lack of intelligence gathering as bane of security in the country, however, advised the Federal Government to remove kerosene from the list of non-subsidised petroleum products.

But providing a glimpse of the battle ahead, Vice President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Alhaji Lawal Dutsinma, and Trade Union Congress (TUC), FCT Council, Aliyu Musa Abdulhakeem, told The Guardian yesterday that the governors would be inadvertently inviting chaos if they renege on full implementation of the new minimum wage bill.

Dustsinma, on his part, described the new electricity tariffs being mulled by the government to take effect from July 1, 2011 as inflicting untold hardship on the hapless Nigerians who are already over-burdened by the prevailing unfriendly economic environment.

Chairman of the TUC, FCT Council, Aliyu Abdulhakeem, declared that the labour movement is yet to get any official letter or notification from any state governor on their purported inability to pay the new wage bill.

Aliyu was quick to remind state governors of their submission during the negotiation that some of them even offered to pay N22, 000 and therefore find it ironical that the same governors are now giving pre-conditions for implementing the law.

He said: “Resources to pay is no longer an issue because during negotiations we started from N52, 300 and we came down to N18,000. Even then, some of the governors said they could afford up to N22, 000 and then, in consultation with the social partners, we decided to cone down to N18,000.

In the same vein, human right activist and lawyer, Festus Keyamo, described the development as unpatriotic.

Mike Ozekhome, who spoke from Georgia, also described the action as having untoward implication on the public, noting that the only option available for the civil society is to mobilise the public for a protest.

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