The leadership of the Labour Party has reacted to President Bola Tinubu’a removal of fuel subsidy, saying the masses should ‘brace up for more surprises and rude shocks.’ The warning was issued by the Acting National Publicity Secretary of LP, Obiora Ifoh, in a statement issued in Abuja on Tuesday evening titled ‘Removal of Fuel Subsidy, First of Many Shocking Policies to be Expected.’
Tinubu had earlier on Monday, in Abuja, affirmed that his administration would not continue to pay subsidies on petroleum products. He said given the high opportunity cost the Federal Government was suffering to fund subsidies, it was no longer justifiable to continue.
“The fuel subsidy is gone!” Tinubu exclaimed during his inaugural address at Eagle Square, Abuja, shortly after he was sworn in as the 16th President of Nigeria. But Ifoh condemned the president’s action, saying it was a unilateral decision taken without any form of consultation with organised labour and other relevant stakeholders.
The party also expressed regret that the removal of petroleum subsidy has inevitably started having negative effects on Nigerians who may sooner or later be thrown into further hardship. The LP image maker added that the majority of petroleum marketers have started selling petrol for as high as N750 in some states with a number of motorists lamenting that queues have returned to filling stations.
The statement said, “The Labour Party has been confronted with the stark reality that less than twenty-four hours after President Bola Ahmed Tinubu took over the reins of power, Nigerians woke up to see the pump price of petrol shot up to N600 per litre and N750 per litre in the black market. This is arising from the immediate removal of subsidy on petrol as announced by the new administration.
“As we speak, the queues are back again and Nigerians will, as was the case in the previous administration, begin to keep vigils in the filling station to get just a few litres of petrol. As expected, commercial transporters have hiked their trip fares across the country in response to the developments. While product hawkers are once more the king of the jungle.
“This scenario easily reminds one of the stories of a certain Pharaoh who on an assumption of the throne empowered his taskmasters to triple the daily tasks of the Jews. What a way to announce an emergence as the sheriff in town. President Tinubu’s first executive proclamation was such that it is purposed to inflict pains on Nigerians.”
Ifoh admitted that Labour Party also proposed ending the subsidy regime during the last election campaign, he however stated that they said it would be done on the condition that necessary policies and palliative measures would be put in place.
According to him, a sensitive decision such as subsidy removal ought to have been done gradually after due consultation with stakeholders’ input bearing in mind that a number of refineries will have to be recalibrated to near-optimal functionality. “The removal of subsidy by presidential fiat as witnessed yesterday was not only shocking but practically took every Nigerian by surprise. The reason we advise Nigerians to brace up for more rude shocks and surprises in the days ahead.
“Labour is therefore condemning the unilateral decision by President Tinubu who without any form of consultation with the stakeholders particularly, the Labour unions removed the subsidy on petroleum and has instantly pushed Nigerians further into hardship.
“Labour Party has observed with pains that some of the petrol station operators simply shut their filling stations and depot owners also shut their operations. They have also argued that no clarification was given on the execution of the policy. We are therefore calling on the government to quickly reevaluate the policy, and come up with a more practical plan to remove the subsidy in such a way as not to jeopardize the peace of the nation.
“We are also calling on the various unions, social activists and Nigerians, in general, to be watchful and ensure that democracy is not derailed by whatever means and guise,” he stated.