By Bimbo Oyesola Adewale Sanyaolu and Benjamin Babine, Abuja
The Federal Government and the organised labour would reconvene on February 22 for the consideration of the reports of their bipartite technical committees on fuel price and electricity tariff.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, disclosed this Monday night while briefing journalists after a bipartite meeting between the Federal Government and the organised labour at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa Abuja.
Ngige said they received and adopted the report of the Technical Committee on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) Pricing Framework, while that of the Electricity Tariff Committee was expected in a week’s time.
He explained that the organised labour requested for some time to subject the report on PMS Pricing to their organs for further investigation.
“It is a technical report, so they needed further investigation of the report by their own technical research team. The Technical Committee on electricity tariff has not finished. We expect the report in a week’s time. So, cogently, we are reconvening on 22nd of this month to take both reports,” Ngige said.
The report of the Technical Committee on PMS Pricing was presented at the meeting by the Chairman of the Committee, Onochie Anyaoku, a former Executive Director, Refineries Operation and Petrol Pricing in NNPC.
According to Anyaoku, the report is hundred per cent owned by the membership of the technical committee and they have all endorsed it.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government and Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) have warned against an impending fuel scarcity.
Rising from a late night meeting of the technical committee meeting on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) popularly called petrol late Tuesday, the Federal Government warned that the 21-days requested by labour to study the committee’s report could lead to fuel scarcity.
Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr.Timipre Sylva, warned that another three weeks to study the report could have an effect on the availability of petroleum products in the market.
This was even as the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) kicked against the exclusion of the association from being members of the Technical Committee.
At the resumed sitting, the Technical Committee on PMS presented its report while the Committee on Electricity Tariff said its work was ongoing.
Presenting the report, Chairman of the Technical Committee on PMS, Onochie Anyaoku, highlighted the areas where the government should work on to reduce the price of petrol.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, as well as the Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari, also attended the meeting.
The labour leaders were led by President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, and President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Quadri Olaleye.
In November 2020, the government raised the depot price of petrol from N147.67 to N155.17 per litre, forcing marketers to sell between N165 and N173 naira per litre in various parts of the country.
MOMAN, while corroborating the warning of the Federal Government said 21- days request from labour to enable it study the report could distort the petroleum products distribution chain, thus leading to fuel scarcity.
Chairman of MOMAN, Mr. Oyetunji Oyebanji, in a telephone interview with Daily Sun said the deliberations of the technical committee may be counterproductive because the critical stakeholders and investors in the downstream value chain- fuel marketers have been sidelined.
‘‘How can you have a technical committee without the inclusion of critical stakeholders who have invested in terminals, trucks. You float a technical committee and the people who have invested billions of Naira are excluded. And you want the decisions reached to be binding on them. This is very unfair.
Meanwhile, members of the organised labour present at the meeting faulted the report, saying that it was too technical and shallow to be adopted, hence the request for 21-days to study the report.
One of the labour representatives who spoke with Daily Sun yesterday, under the condition of anonymity, said the request of additional 21 days had become imperative considering the sensitive nature of the issue at hand.
Meanwhile, Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, yesterday met with the Joint Action Committee of the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities (SSANU) and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) in the hope to avert an imminent strike by the unions.
The meeting which was attended by SSANU National President, Mohammed Ibrahim and NASU General Secretary, Peters Adeyemi, it was learnt ended at a deadlock as the unions said they had to report to their members about the issues discussed before taking a decision with the government. The unions had announced plans to embark on a nationwide strike from February 5, 2021 over the Federal Government’s handling of the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS), sharing formula of the N40 billion earned academic allowances and non-payment of arrears of the new minimum wage.
Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said it has concluded arrangements to hold a consultative forum with stakeholders to address the challenges in access to polling units pose to democracy and election management in Nigeria.
In a statement by the National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, the Commission noted that it was in line with national engagements to address the inadequacies of polling units in Nigeria
“The commission met today February 2, and deliberated on a number of issues including the finalised arrangements for the upcoming engagements with stakeholders on expanding voter access to polling units in Nigeria.
“For several weeks, the Commission has been preparing for these national engagements to address the inadequacies of Polling Units in Nigeria and the challenges they pose to election management.
“Some of these challenges include overcrowding, numerous unserved populations and poor locations, which are potentially disenfranchising millions of Nigerians, and also pose health risks in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a national problem that calls for national consensus.For several years the commission has tried to address this fundamental challenge to democratic consolidation and election administration with minimal success. This has been mainly due to inadequate engagement between the commission and stakeholders.
“Consequently, the commission has had to resort to interim measures such as creating Voting Points at Polling Units nationwide and establishing Voting Point Settlements in the Federal Capital Territory. These engagements will afford an opportunity for the Commission to consult with stakeholders in order to build a genuine national consensus to address the problem of declining voter access to polling units.In the next few weeks, the commission plans to engage with diverse stakeholders including political parties, civil society organisations, religious leaders, traditional institutions, labour unions, socio-cultural organisations, various arms of the federal government, as well as state governments.”