On Subsidy Removal, Strikes, And National Interest | Independent Newspapers Limited
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On Subsidy Removal, Strikes, And National Interest

Posted: May 23, 2016 at 2:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Recently, the federal government took the bull by the horns leaving Nigerians with the harsh realities of Premium Motor Spirit’s (PMS) pump price modulation from N86.50 per litre to N145 per litre.

To forestall labour unions and other pressure groups from proceeding on a nation-wide strike scheduled to begin on Wednesday last week, government sought and secured an interim order of injunction from the National Industrial Court, restraining the unions, their agents, privies, employees, workmen, or servants from embarking on industrial action, demonstrating or engaging in any action that may disrupt the economic activities of the country pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice. Government argued that the decision it took to make a clear break away from the corruption-ridden subsidy regime was inevitable, but in the best interest of the economy and people of the country.

In quick response, however, splinter groups of the Nigerian Labour Congress and other blocs of interest that shared labour’s sentiments defied the court order and mobilised members to embark on the strike action. It is, nonetheless, cheery that so far, the economy has not been shut down as threatened by the labour unions. Had labour succeeded in totally shutting down the economy, it would have come at a colossal cost to the economy. In terms of direct financial cost, the economy would have lost as much as $4billion based on the United Nation Development Programme’s (UNDP’s) estimate of the country’s GDP of $478 billion in 2015 and the three days the strike has lasted.

Given the explanations by government that the subsidy regime had for years been a massive drain on the country’s meager resources, we urge all concerned groups to show more understanding and negotiate workable options that would assuage all aggrieved parties in the interest of the nation and the larger economy.

We are encouraged by the position of labour signifying openness to negotiations. It also feels good that government on its part is demonstrating maturity and diplomacy in handling the issue at hand. This is why we believe that there should be a way out of the deadlock to ensure as soon as possible that the country continues to make remarkable progress.

However, in the effort at resolving the matter, there should be no room for repression or impunity, and no party should claim superiority over the other. The spirit of no victor, no vanquished should rule within the ranks of government and labour at all times, while transparency and credibility must be honestly and earnestly embraced.

It is good news that only a few days after the Feder­al Government declared the deregulation of the oil sector, 37 firms have indicated interests to invest in the country’s refineries, according to government’s spokesman and Min­ister of Information and Cul­ture, Lai Mohammed.

It is expected that the princely N1 trillion subsidies paid out in 2015 alone would no longer be paid to any economic parasites and bloodsuckers and can now be used for more productive purposes in the genuine interests of Nigerians. The new price regime should also lead to creation of more jobs in addition to saving the existing jobs in the downstream sector estimated at 400,000.


Without further delay, government now needs to roll out the palliative measures to immediately begin to dampen the effects of the subsidy removal therapy. It has long made the case for deploying the huge sums of money to be saved from discontinuation of the obnoxious subsidy regime to improve economic and social infrastructure, job creation and people’s welfare, and should now make this happen. Perhaps, the leadership of the labour movement would also henceforth see the urgent need to find more rewarding ways of handling critical issues of national interest.