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Labour cautions Buhari against oil subsidy removal, Naira devaluation

Wabba, Buhari and Yari

Wabba, Buhari and Yari

Bureau Chief CITING calls for oil subsidy removal and devaluation of the Naira, Labour has again cautioned President Muhammadu Buhari to be wary of some vested interests in the country, who may want to undermine his electoral promises of putting an end to mass poverty and the transformation of the nation’s economy.

A statement by the Deputy President of NLC, Comrade Issa Aremu, after a meeting by labour leaders in Kaduna at the weekend, “the two amount to policy dictatorship and policy ambush that had nothing to do with the ruling party’s electoral promises which the masses overwhelmingly voted for.”

According to the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), “this administration must resist the new emergency discordant voices pushing for the twin-evil policies of so-called oil subsidy removal and further devaluation of the Naira.”

According to him, “NLC particularly rejects the call of the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Mr. Bisi Onasanya for further devaluation of the Naira already in a free-fall of 18 percent against the dollar in the past year,” saying that “Market operators like Mr. Bisi Onasanya should not usurp the legitimate functions of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as the regulator through unhelpful policy dictatorship.”

Issa said that Labour “hereby support the recently announced bold measures of the Governor of CBN”, adding, “CBN should reject the least resistance of unhelpful option of further Naira devaluation.”

“The existing currency devaluation has further eroded wage income of millions of workers (many with unpaid monthly salaries). Devaluation has also increased the cost of domestic production, fueled price inflation and undermined the competitiveness of locally surviving industry leading to loss of existing few jobs.”

“The CBN ban on importers from using the foreign-exchange market for some frivolous forty (40) items ranging from private jets to rice, wheelbarrows and Indian incense, Geisha (canned fish) and toothpicks, to even eggs is welcome and commendable.”

Saying that it was time the Federal Government imposed capital control in its policy initiative, the Labour chief said, “Nigeria more than any nation currently suffers huge capital inadequacy, with nation’s foreign-currency reserves sharply fallen by some 27 percent to $29 billion since the end of last September.”

He also remarked that “Central banks worldwide ensure public control of capital for development without which capital on the loose can finance underdevelopment, cocaine growing as well as finance terrorism as America painfully came to realize.”

Comrade Aremu also urged the government to embark on the repair of the nation’s refineries and the building of new ones to arrest the shortage of petroleum products and the importation of refined products.

He further stated that government must improve on the “infrastructures of fuel production and distribution, an end to crude oil theft and mass decent jobs not outworn outcry of removal of so-called fuel subsidy,” stressing, “just as we have seen with good management of fertilizer subsidy in the last dispensation under the former agriculture minister.”

He added: “there is nothing inherently bad with subsidy. The challenge of today more than ever before is domestic production of petroleum instead of unsustainable wasteful imports. The new administration should reject one-cap fits all policy dictate. No substitute to good governance and employment generation.”

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2 Comments
  • Ahmed

    I don’t think the subsidy was meant to be permanent, instead being a stopgap while the key infrastructure was put in place (or repaired like the refineries). But I do believe the idea was to help as many Nigerians as possible – and harm as few as possible. If it can be removed without harming more Nigerians than are burdened by it now, then it may be the right decision, otherwise Nigerians will be justified in protesting.

  • Paul Nwaogu

    We need the fuel subsidy. In
    developed countries governments retain subsidies in certain key areas to cushion
    the effects of high cost of living for the poor. The refineries should be made
    to do the work for which they were built. Please calculate what we lose in the
    oil sector through bunkering, shady deeds by multi-national oil companies as
    well as the activities of homemade vampires/ oil cabals; you will understand
    that removing fuel subsidy amounts to corruption by our government. What does
    oil block mean as it affects drilling oil in the Niger Delta Region?

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