By Sherifat Lawal
The Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Mr. Timipre Sylva, has said the Federal Government had no money to continue with subsidy as earnings had dropped by 60%, which is how they convinced Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and Trade Union Congress, TUC, to allow the new pump price of fuel remain.
Timipre Sylva spoke on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily on Tuesday, pointing out that all well-meaning Nigerians agree with Government’s position on the need for the hike in pump price to subsist.
Recall that some Nigerians expressed disappointment when Organised Labour agreed to a two-week suspension of the much-expected strike, even when government didn’t back down on the hike in pump price of fuel.
In fact, many Nigerian said, “We don’t have Labour (union)”.
However, while answering a question on how some Nigerians felt disappointed that the new pump price remained, Sylva said: “I am sorry that some people are disappointed. But in the end, it is about Nigeria and not about those people.
“What was the interest of such people to see the country go up in flames? But I applaud the labour leaders who put Nigeria first on that negotiation table.
“First, we had to be very truthful about the situation in the country, and globally. Government could no longer go on with subsidy because there simply was no money.
“If your earnings have dropped by 60%, then you have to do something about it. We showed them everything and they saw with us that it was not possible for us to continue.
“The alternative was to go back to subsidy and have scarcity. If the product is imported at a certain price and sold at a loss, it means somebody was bearing that difference. It was becoming unbearable to us.
“Price and production went down: we are producing half of what we used to produce and selling at less the price.
“Labour saw the truthfulness on the part of govt. It was a very painful decision. But there was no alternative. So we have to bite the bullet as a country.”