Subsidy removal: Labour-FG meeting deadlocked as fuel sells above N500 per litre


The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and their affiliates may be heading for a show down with the federal government following the withdrawal of the contentious petrol subsidy which has pushed the price of the product above N500 per litre.

Recall that President Bola Tinubu had, in his inauguration speech on Monday announced that “petrol subsidy is gone.”

In less than 48 hours after the announcement, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) had in a statement entitled ‘Current NNPC Pump Price’ and ‘New pump price per May 31, 2023,’ announced increase in the price of petrol by nearly 200%.

In a circular issued by the company yesterday, the pump price of the product in Abuja was raised from N194 to N537 per litre, while Nasarawa moved from N189 to N537 per Litre.

The pump price in Plateau increased from N189 to N537 per litre, while Kwara was increased from N189 to N515 per litre.

The price in Kogi upped from N189 to N537; Benue from N189 to N537; Niger from N189 to N537; Adamawa from N199 to N550 per litre;, and Taraba from N199 to N550 per litre.

In Bauchi State, the price moved from N199 to N550, Gombe from N199 to N550, and Borno from N199 to N557 per litre.

The price in Yobe was increased from N199 to N557; Kano from N194 to N540; Kaduna from N194 to N540, and Katsina from N194 to N540.

In Sokoto, the price was moved from N194 to N540; Jigawa from N194 to N540; Kebbi from N194 to N545 and Zamfara from N194 to N540.

In the southeast, the priced moved from N189 to N515 in Abia; Imo from N189 to N515; Anambra from N189 to N520; Enugu from N189 to N520 and Ebonyi from N189 to N520.

In the south-south, the pump price was increased from N189 to N511 Rivers State; Akwa Ibom from N194 to N515; Bayelsa from N189 to N515; Cross River from N194 to N511; Edo from N189 to N511 and Delta from N189 to N511.

In the southwest, the price was increased from  N184 to N488 in Lagos and from N189 to N500 in Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ondo and Ekiti.

Spokesman for the NNPCL, Mr. Garba Deen Muhammad said in a statement that the price was adjusted “in line with the current market realities.”

The statement reads: “NNPC Limited wishes to inform our esteemed customers that we have adjusted our pump price of PMS across our retail outlets, in line with the current market realities.

“As we strive to provide you the quality service we are known for, it is pertinent to note that prices will continue to fluctuate to reflect market dynamics.

“We assure you that NNPC Ltd. is committed to ensuring ceaseless supply of products.

“The Company sincerely regrets any inconvenience this development might have caused.

“We greatly appreciate your continued patronage, support and understanding through this time of change and growth”.

However, despite the price fixing, several retails outlets sold the product between N600 and NN800 in Lagos, Abuja , Ogun and some other states while in Eboyin in particular, petrol was sold for N1, 200 per litre.

Following the announcement of the new prices, the cost of goods and services, especially transportation, increased astronomically. Long queues resurfaced at petrol stations while black market operators returned to their duty posts.

Apparently worried by the development, the federal government convened a meeting with some labour leaders at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday in the evening.

The meeting was attended by the NLC and TUB presidents, Messrs Joe Ajaero and , Festus Osifo, former NLC President and Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, permanent secretary, state house, Mr. Tijjani Umar, head of service of the federation, Dr Folashade Yemi-Esan, group chief executive officer of the NNPCL, Mr. Mele Kyari, among others.

However, the meeting ended in a deadlock as the labour and government teams failed to reach an agreement.

Ajaero who spoke to journalists at the end of the parley confirmed that the there was no consensus.”

He said the principle of negotiation was for the government and the NNPCL to revert to the status quo.

He said labour insisted that the status quo should be maintained before any meaningful negotiation could take place.

“That’s the principle of negotiation. You don’t put the partner, ask them to negotiate under gunpoint. The prayer of the NLC is that we go back to the status quo, negotiate, think of alternatives and all the effects and how to manage the effects this action is going to have on the people. If it is an action that must take off,” he said.

The labour leader contended that the last administration had made the provision for subsidy up to the end of June.

“Why is it now. Last administration made it up to end of June. Why can’t we respect the sanctity of even that law that provided that expenditure up to June?” he asked.

He also faulted the NNPCL for the new prices it released yesterday saying the move puts the labour unions in a difficult position on the negation table.

On the claim by the federal government that there is no money to continue with the subsidy, Ajaero said: “What is the purpose of governance? Is it the duty of NLC to raise funds for the government, collect tax, to sell crude at the international market when the price of crude is going high and the government that is a major importer of crude product is telling you there is no money. Other countries that are in the same scenario are eating fat,” he said.

On whether it is feasible to continue with the subsidy regime, Ajaero said: “Is there any country that does not subsidise living of people even if it is by providing public transportation?

Even in the US there is subsidy on wheat product. “If you are a major producer of crude and you refine or carry the crude abroad and refine and bring it, definitely there will be difference in the price and that is what they are paying.

“If your father established a refinery and that refinery dies in your hand and you are now refining abroad, you ask yourself some questions. We have refineries in Kaduna, Sapele, Warri and Port Harcourt, why are they not functioning that we have to go and refine abroad, the transportation money, refining cost at international price or rate and bring it back here and the same government pays the difference in cost of what it is here and what it is internationally,” he added.

He expressed surprise that the government claimed it had deregulated the downstream sector of the petroleum industry and at the same fixed prices.

For his part, spokesman for the federal government, Mr. Dele Alake, said the negotiations were ongoing and the parties will reconvene on indeterminate date.

“We have been deliberating on finding very amicable solutions to the issue at hand, to the queue and all of that and the increase in pump price.

“We had a very robust engagement. We cross-fertilised ideas, ideas flew from all sides and there is one thing that is remarkable even from the labour side, and that is Nigeria. We are all looking at the peace, progress and stability of Nigeria. That is what is paramount.

“We cannot finish everything at one setting, so we have adjourned now, we are continuing the talks at a later date very shortly.

“But the point is that the talks are ongoing and it always better for all sides to keep talking with a view to arriving at a very amicable resolution that will be in the longer term interest for all Nigerians. That is as much as we can say now,” he stated.


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