Fuel Price Soars Above N700 Per Litre Amidst Impasse Between The Federal Government And Labour Union
Negotiations between the Federal Government and organized labor regarding the removal of fuel subsidy came to a standstill on Wednesday. The two parties failed to reach a consensus following the increase in petrol pump prices to over N700 per liter from N195 per liter by oil marketers.The meeting, which lasted for several hours at the Presidential Villa, aimed to avert a labor crisis stemming from the recent hike in petrol prices caused by the discontinuation of petroleum subsidies.Earlier on Wednesday, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPCL) announced that it had adjusted the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) to reflect market realities. However, the agency did not disclose the new prices of petrol.Despite this, several retail outlets in Lagos, Abuja, Ogun, and other states sold the product at prices ranging from N600 to N800 per liter.Chief Chinedu Ukadike, the National Public Relations Officer of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), warned that the increase in the cost of PMS would lead to galloping inflation in the country. He highlighted that some outlets in the South-East were already selling the product at N1,200 per liter.Ukadike expressed concerns about the surge in inflation and the hardships that would follow as a result of the latest petrol price hike. He emphasized the need for the Federal Government and the NNPCL to allow other marketers to import petrol, promoting competition in the sector.Responding to the deadlock, Joe Ajaero, President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), stated that no consensus had been reached during the meeting. He criticized the NNPCL for releasing an official statement regarding the petrol pump price, which he believed undermined the negotiations.The NLC called for a return to the status quo, urging negotiations and the exploration of alternative solutions to manage the effects of the subsidy removal. Ajaero highlighted that the subsidy provision was in place until the end of June, and stakeholders should consider the consequences before initiating any actions.Dele Alake, representing the Federal Government, confirmed that negotiations were ongoing and that the parties would reconvene at a later date.The NNPCL, the sole importer of petrol in Nigeria for many years, confirmed the price hike through a statement and a new pricing template released to marketers nationwide. However, the move has sparked nationwide anger, with the NLC demanding an immediate reversal of the decision.In response, the NLC’s National Executive Council has scheduled an emergency meeting for Friday to discuss the situation and determine the labor union’s stance on behalf of Nigerian workers.Economists and industry experts weighed in on the situation, noting the potential inflationary impact on the economy in the short term. However, some argued that discontinuing the subsidy regime would bring long-term benefits. Suggestions were made for the government to systematically remove the subsidy and invest the funds in projects that would stimulate economic growth.The opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), criticized the decision to remove the subsidy, pointing out that they had warned about the potential consequences during the 2023 presidential campaign. The PDP urged Nigerians to remain hopeful despite the hardships.As the nation awaits further developments, the future of fuel subsidies in Nigeria remains uncertain, with potential implications for the economy and the daily lives of Nigerian citizens.