The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) said that the industrial action embarked upon by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) could have been prevented with sincere government action after the removal of fuel subsidy and floating of the Naira.
In a press release issued on Tuesday, 5 September, 2023, CSJ acknowledged the significance of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s policy reforms, particularly the removal of fuel subsidy and the floating of the Naira, but however highlighted President Tinubu’s lack of proactivity in devising measures to ameliorate the attendant hardship arising from these policy pronouncements.
According to the Lead Director of CSJ, Eze Onyekpere, “President Bola Ahmed Tinubu missed the tidal waves of support in favour of his two main policy reforms – the fuel subsidy removal and the floatation of the Naira – by not taking proactive measures to arrest the hardships resulting from the reforms.”
Onyekpere said: “The expectation was that President Tinubu would announce the cushioning interventions alongside the reform policies, and such interventions were not to be futuristic but to kick in before or immediately with the reform pronouncements. Regrettably, this has not been the case.
“For example, the proposed increase in workers’ salaries, which has been pending for three months now, remains unresolved in a country where the minimum wage is thirty thousand naira ($39.04) per month. This starkly contrasts with fellow African nations such as Algeria, South Africa, and Morocco, where the minimum wage is $170, $242, and $360, respectively.”
He noted that the NLC has raised concerns that the government-appointed committee tasked with negotiating with them to determine cushioning measures for workers have either intentionally delayed or neglected to commence negotiations. This inaction is deeply concerning.
CSJ called upon the government to commence and expedite the deployment of Nigerian built or assembled compressed natural gas (CNG) powered mass transit buses to alleviate the escalating costs of public transportation. The rehabilitation of the refineries and the recovery of massively looted funds under the infamous petrol subsidy regime should come under matters of urgent national importance to be addressed within an emergency framework.
CSJ said it firmly holds the government accountable for the present developments noting that the decision to announce the removal of fuel subsidy without adequate consideration of the consequences displays a level of arrogance that is unacceptable to the Nigerian people.
“CSJ remains committed to advocating for social justice and equitable policies that prioritize the well-being of all Nigerians,” Onyekpere added.