The Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress have thumbed down the N500bn palliative proposed by President Bola Tinubu, stating that it is grossly inadequate to assuage the hardships confronting workers sequel to the fuel subsidy removal.
They are demanding a 300 per cent salary increase to enable workers to cope with the challenges imposed by the deteriorating economic situation that came with the removal of the controversial fuel subsidy.
On Wednesday, the President wrote to the House of Representatives seeking approval for N500bn to cushion the effects of petrol subsidy removal.
Tinubu’s request was contained in a letter sent to the National Assembly and read during plenary by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas.
The President had announced the petrol subsidy removal during his inaugural address on May 29, 2023, in response to claims that the subsidy regime favoured the rich more than the average Nigerians, among other reasons.
In his letter, the President proposed an amendment to the 2022 Supplementary Appropriation Act.
The president said he hoped the lawmakers would consider his request “expeditiously.”
The House is expected to hold a plenary today on the president’s request.
Last December, the National Assembly passed a supplementary budget of N819bn for the 2022 fiscal year and also extended the implementation of the 2022 budget till March 31, 2023.
In May, the National Assembly passed the amendment to the 2022 supplementary budget to extend the implementation of the capital components to December 2023.
But unimpressed by the amount contained in the President’s letter, the NLC noted that the money would not be enough to cater for 125 million Nigerians who are believed to be living in poverty.
The National Treasurer of the NLC, Hakeem Ambali, who spoke in an interview with our correspondent in Abuja, questioned the extent to which the palliative would cover.
When asked if the amount would be sufficient, he said, “Definitely not. We have over 125m Nigerians that are technically poor. To what extent can this cushion the effects of this economic hardship?”
Speaking on ways by which the President can mitigate the effect of subsidy removal, the NLC official asked for “Minimum wage review of 300 per cent to all workers; granting licences to individuals for modular refineries to refine petrol locally; granting economic stimulus loan to SMEs at 15 per cent rate.’’
In a related development, the President on Wednesday assured Nigerians that the framework for palliatives to remedy the effects of fuel subsidy removal is being worked out, explaining that the decision to phase out the subsidy was taken in the best interest of the country.
He said the decision would guarantee future prosperity.
Tinubu gave the assurance when he received members of Class 1999 Governors who paid him a courtesy visit at the Presidential Villa.
Eighteen of the former governors were present at the Council Chambers where the President met with them.
Tinubu, a former Lagos State governor and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator George Akume, who was a former Benue State governor, also belonged in the 1999 Class of Governors.
While appreciating his colleagues who served during the birth of the 4th Republic in 1999, the President appealed for more patience from Nigerians, saying the government would increase efforts to alleviate the pains of the subsidy removal and speed up the process.
He said the government would ensure a full-proof social security structure that will not be compromised, especially in cash transfers.
SOURCE: PUNCH NEWSPAPER