…We are done with labour, says Ngige
By Obas Esiedesa – ABUJA
THE final decision on petrol pump price increase will be taken by the 36 states governors at their meeting on Thursday, the Federal Government has said.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige disclosed this Sunday night after a bipartite meeting of the Federal Government and the organised labour at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa Abuja said the government has finished with labour leaders on the issue of the petrol price increase.
The leadership of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) represented the organised labour at the meeting.
Ngige told journalists that labour had investigated the report of the Technical Committee on Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, Pricing Framework as agreed at the last meeting and made their submissions, even as that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, presented their own report.
He explained: “The labour side saw that they (NNPC) were making some points and as I said, it is a work in progress. Governors are going to discuss this on Thursday. They have discussed this at the National Economic Council, NEC, and so everybody is involved because we find ourselves in dire straits. There is no money for subsidy.
“The NNPC has explained. What they are doing is import-dependent. Deregulation is import-dependent but they are doing bulk purchasing. So, they can get discounts. They are also using a foreign exchange that is discounted for them. They are not buying from the parallel market. So, all these things will be put in a basket and a price will emerge from it.”
Ngige maintained that the Federal Government has finished with the organised labour on the issue of fuel price.
Speaking on electricity tariff increase, the Minister disclosed that the meeting adopted the report of its Ad-hoc Technical Committee on Electricity Tariffs, made some adjustments and transformed the committee into an implementation committee, to implement all the recommendations made, including mass metering.
“You will start seeing members of the committee with the Minister of Power, going around now and making sure that the DISCOS put meters for people because there are reports that they don’t want to be distributing meters and that they want to be doing bulk billing and estimated billings. So, we don’t want that.
“There is also a resolution as regards gas companies reducing gas pricing for gas sold to power companies, GENCOS and the rest of them so that the price of electricity per unit will go down and the consumers will benefit from it. We have given the marching orders for them to do so.
“Some paperwork has to be done and once that is done, price of electricity will go down and once it goes down, the consumers will benefit”, he stated.
Dr. Ngige also explained that the committee also recommended that those forcefully migrated by distribution companies from lower-paying bands C and D to upper bands A and B should petition the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC)
“They will be brought back and the DisCos will be sanctioned”, he added.
He, however, announced that the social dialogue between the Federal Government and labour has been adjourned to April as the two standing committees are still working.
The Secretary to the Federal Government, Boss Mustafa who spoke earlier congratulated the organised labour for their sacrifices at “this time of economic difficulty”, which has been rewarded with Nigeria’s exit from recession in the third quarter of 2020.
Mustafa explained that all the projections including the reports of the economic sustainability committee put in place with a robust response to the COVID-19 pandemic provided clear evidence that Nigeria was on its way to exit from recession in the first quarter of 2021 “but we beat them to it in the third quarter of 2020.
“This could not have been achieved without the support of the organised labour and the working population of the country because you were the one that drives the economy and ensured that the petroleum sector, the lifeline of the country’s economy is not disrupted. If we have had disruptions, it would have been difficult for us to exit the recession in the first quarter of 2021, let alone, the fourth Quarter of 2020.’
Others from the government side at the meeting include the Minister of State for Power, Jeddy Agba, the Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari, the Chairman of National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Sanusi Garba and Special Adviser to the President on Infrastructure, Ahmed Zakari.
The President of NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba and his TUC counterpart, Quadri Olaleye led the organised labour.