Following the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) one-week ultimatum issued to the federal government to retract the fuel subsidy removal and other policies termed as “anti-people,” CSOs in Nigeria have cautioned the NLC against taking strikes. They warned that the planned nationwide strike would only make things worse for Nigerians already struggling. The CSOs under the umbrella of the Coalition of Civil Society Organisations and Political Parties for Good Governance (COSOSAP) stated that the historic fuel subsidy regime, which has impeded national development and been the root of immense corruption, can no longer be maintained.
Dr. Lillian Ene Ogbole, national coordinator of COSOSAP, spoke at a press conference in Abuja, urging labour unions and other critics of the policy to exercise more patient and support the government in fostering an enabling environment that will enhance the living standards of millions of Nigerians. Dr. Ogmore emphasized that regardless of how the scenario is interpreted, Nigerians must be driven by the paramount national interest, which is the long-term security of our people as a unified nation.
Removing fuel subsidy is the only viable alternative for Nigeria.
She acknowledged that Nigerians demand and deserve a reduction in the fuel pump price; but, she yet again explained that the enormous volume of corruption associated with the fuel subsidy regime in Nigeria was too much for any economy to accommodate. Thus, it is reasonable to infer that doing away with the system of fuel subsidies is the one and only viable alternative for Nigeria in order to save the country from following the path of other failed states, such as Venezuela and Sri Lanka, among others.
This explained why the previous administration refused to appropriate funds for fuel subsidies in June 2023 and the following months, indicating its intention to eliminate the fuel subsidy scheme towards the end of its tenure. While recognising that the elimination of the fuel subsidy has caused immeasurable discomfort for Nigerians, at the same time, the COSOSAP national coordinator was optimistic that the measures being implemented by the Tinubu-led administration would provide relief to the country soon.
Nigerians should support the current administration.
The national coordinator thus urged Nigerians to be patient and understanding, noting that the country’s valiant fight to end the corrupt subsidy regime completely will enable robust open market operations and competitions in the country. “Patience, not pressure, encouragement, not fury, is what we need to exhibit to the administration”, she said. Dr. Ogbole also encouraged Nigerians to support the current administration all the way to weather out of the difficulties of making the switch from a fuel subsidy-regulated economy to one free from subsidies.
On the other hand, the CSOs applauded the president for declaring a state of emergency on food security in the country, with expectation that this will lead to a significant decrease in food prices and their eventual stability. They also urged significant players in the petroleum industry to abide by the rules and avoid engaging in any act which will derail the progress being made towards putting Nigeria’s economy on a road towards growth and prosperity.
Strike or protest would exacerbate Nigeria’s dire situation.
Government regulatory bodies were also urged to unequivocally disparage and penalize any company found importing substandard petroleum products into the country. The CSOs made it clear that the Nigeria Labour Congress cannot proceed with a nationwide strike or protest of any kind given that doing so would only exacerbate the country’s already dire situation. It explained that the menace of adversity can only be neutralized through common reasoning and collaborative effort to achieve growth and development.