THE meeting between the federal government and leadership of organized labour (NLC) over removal of subsidy on petrol ended on Wednesday without an agreement.
The meeting which began around 4 pm on Wednesday at the Presidential Villa, went on for several hours with the NLC demanding that the federal government return to status quo by reversing the price of fuel before resuming negotiations with the NLC.
Labour was led by the NLC President, Comrade Joe Ajaero; and his TUC counterpart, Comrade Festus Osifo.
Representatives of the government include Dele Alake, the presidential spokesperson; the Group MD/CEO of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, Mele Kyari, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele; and former President of NLC and former Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole.
Labour insisted that the government did not enter into any conversation with stakeholders even on palliative measures for Nigerians, hence the rejection of the announcement. The leadership of labour therefore resolved to reconvene with its members to deliberate on the next line of action.
Speaking on behalf of government, the president’s spokesperson, Alake, described the meeting as robust, adding that talks would continue. He expressed hope that the parties would reach a reasonable conclusion at its next adjourned meeting.
Earlier in a statement, the NLC had called on the federal government to immediately instruct the Nigerian Petroleum Company Ltd (NNPCL) to withdraw the just released pricing template to allow free flow of discussions by the parties.
In the statement signed by Comrade Ajaero on Wednesday, the NLC said the new pricing template is vexatious, an ambush and may scuttle the dialogue between organised labour and the federal government.
According to Ajaero, government cannot in one breathe be talking about deregulation and at the same time fixing the prices of petroleum products.
“We are worried that the Government through the NNPC despite the ongoing meeting of stakeholders in the oil and gas sector to manage the unilateral but unfortunate announcement by the President to withdraw subsidy on petroleum products [sic], went ahead this morning to announce a new regime of prices under a new pricing template.
“This is an ambush and runs against the spirit and principles of Social Dialogue which remains the best platform available for the resolution of all the issues arising out of the petroleum Down-stream sector.
“Government cannot in one breath be talking about deregulation and at the same time fixing the prices of petroleum products. This negates the spirit of allowing the operation of the free market unless the government has as usual, usurped, captured or become market forces.
“It is therefore unacceptable and we seriously condemn it. Good faith negotiation is key to reaching agreement.” What the government has done is like holding a gun to the head of Nigeria people and bring undue pressure on the leaders thus undermine [sic] the dialogue,” Ajaero said.
The NLC president said that Nigerians would not accept the manipulation of any kind from any of the parties, especially from the representatives of the government.
“Our commitment to this process is buoyed on the fact that all the parties would be committed to ensuring that it is carried out within the ambits of liberty without undue pressure.
“The release of that Template may not allow us to continue if nothing is done to withdraw it so that the dialogue can continue unhindered. It is clear that Government is actually trying to scuttle the process.
“As it stands, the federal government has become fixated on their chosen course of action. Would this help this dialogue? It clearly will not.
“There must be flexibility to allow concessions and reasonable accommodation that will produce the best result for Nigerian people. This is what we all seek at this time,” he said.