•NLC factional group shuns strike
From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja, Timothy Olanrewaju, Borno and Magnus Eze
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo give insight into President Muhammadu Buhari’s stand on increase in the pump price of petrol yesterday.
Osinbajo said as one who had always kicked against hike in the price of petrol, his boss had no choice but to succumb to the increment last week.
The vice president said it was the hardest decision Buhari had to make.
Osinbajo laid this bare at the public presentation of Anatomy of Corruption in Nigeria: Issues, Challenges & Solutions, a collection of essays edited by Yusuf O. Ali, (SAN) yesterday.
He gave reasons for t he increment inadequate foreign currency and that even if all four refineries in the country worked at optimal levels, they would only be able to meet 40 per cent domestic consumption.
“If there is one person in Nigeria who believes that petroleum prices should not go up by one naira, it is President Buhari.”
Osinbajo reiterated that the president simply had no other option than agree to the increase and added that although Buhari did not want the fuel price to go up, “he was left with no choice. What can we do if we don’t have foreign currency, we have to import fuel?”
The vice president also gave reasons why importation of fuel will not abate soon.
“Even if we repair our refineries today, we would still be able to refine 40 percent of our petroleum, so, we still need to import. In the absence of foreign exchange and you have to import your refined petroleum, what are you left with? A lot of the problems associated with the refineries are corruption related,” he said. He noted that corruption “explains why many states are owing salaries and continue to owe salaries.”
Stressing the consequences of corruption, Buhari’s deputy said: “When you consider that today, Nigeria’s reserves stands at about $27 billion and we are investigating $15 billion from one sector alone, that is over half of the entire reserves of the country. We are investigating cases which shows that over $15 billion was lost in one type of contract alone. We are not talking of oil contracts, we are talking of security related contracts alone. We have not talked at all about oil contracts involving several billions.”
Meanwhile, a faction of the NLC, led by the Federal Government last night recorded a milestone as it reached an agreement with the Comrade Joe Ajaero-led faction of NLC not to go on strike but, instead, set up a joint committee to resolve the issues.
Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole who presented the agreement said the committee would work out a framework for the review of the national minimum wage.
Other highlights were for the committee to come out with modalities on how labour would be part of the implementation of the N500 billion social investment fund appropriated in the 2016 budget; and the reconstitution of the PPPRA board as well as review of the current N145 pump price of petrol.
He said the committee that would be chaired by a nominee of the Federal Government has two weeks to submit its report and added that the report would be deliberated by what he called a Committee of the Whole before making recommendations to government.
Ajaero confirmed what Oshiomhole read out as “the summary of the agreement.”
Regardless, Borno State chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has indicated its resolve to join the nationwide strike slated for today by the national body of the union and it’s affliates. NLC state chairman, Comrade Ali Abana said the state chapter aligned with its national body in observing the strike.