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Fuel price hike: Tension as strike call divides Nigerians



ByAda Anioji


The planned nationwide strike action being called by the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, effective Wednesday May 18 is already generating tension across the country.

The strike is being called to protest the recent increase in the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, which was raised from the former official peg of N86.50 to a new high of N145.

However, checks in Ikoyi, Lagos on Sunday revealed that filling stations being run by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, were dispensing PMS at N143.

Across Nigeria, news of the planned strike is the top item in discussion forums even as transport fares have risen by within 50 and 100 percent on many routes in Lagos, Edo and Ogun States. There is also concern that the prices of foodstuff and other household goods would also further rise, thereby further escalating the already choking cost of living index.

With inflation already inching to the precipitous 15 per cent mark ahead of this new increase, fears are rife that the overall economic situation of the Nigerian people may therefore be further worsened by the fuel price hike. 

While some respondents back the government in the hike action in the hope that it would lead to a complete deregulation of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry along with the envisaged promise of no further supply-side disruptions, others like the NLC, the National Assembly, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party and civic society organisations have flayed the low level of consultation involved in the process of announcing the new shift, saying that it amounts to dictatorship.

Overall however, many have chosen to adopt a wait-and-see attitude even as they hope that the government would initiate dialogue with the aggrieved to the end that yet another debilitating disruption of the already beleaguered national economy can be averted.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) leadership is insisting that all the industrial unions will force their colleagues to join in  the planned action.

Speaking Sunday night on ChannelsTV, Deputy National President of the NLC, Amechi Asugwuni, restated that the strike would go on unless the federal government reverses the pump price increase.

Before now, there had been reports that the two primary oil sector unions, PENGASSAN and NUPENG, had endorsed the move to raise the price to N145 per litre.

The two unions have also reportedly hinted that the proposed strike does not have their blessing but the NLC is insisting that any such disavowal would be resisted.

It will be recalled that the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, had last Wednesday revealed to the media at the Presidential Villa the decision of the Federal Government to commence the new pump price regime, expressing his optimism that the new price band would lead to improved supply and competition expected to eventually drive down pump prices, overall.




Fuel price hike: ‘You are wicked!’

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