THE South East, South South Professionals of Nigeria (SESSPN) has thrown it weight behind the Federal Government on the removal of fuel subsidy and the resultant hike in the pump price of petrol.
President of SESSPN, Emeka Ugwu-Oju, who spoke in Enugu yesterday admonished leaders of Organised Labour that rather than embark on any sort of protests, they should cooperate with the government to ensure that ordinary Nigerians eventually become the beneficiaries of the removal of subsidy and deregulation of the market, and not the victims of the price regime.
Commenting on how the Federal Government settled for N145 a litre as the cost of petrol, Ugwu-oju noted that the market has already been deregulated in the South East and South South where petrol is rarely sold according to government regulation.
According to him, the labour union leaders should “support the government in the interest of the same people they are leading and learn to trust that the government of the day will, in this instance, take the decisions that will benefit everyone eventually.”
Enjoining Labour to consider the benefits that will come from a deregulated market and the removal of subsidy, he said, “Labour should rather insist and ensure that the government deploys the money that would have been used as petrol subsidy equitably for the development of various sectors for the benefit of those who need it most and not the minority that benefits from subsidy. If they insist on going on strike, at the end of day, they will discover that those who will suffer will be those they set out to protect.”
The SESSPN President tasked Labour to play the role of a watchdog and “ensure that the government puts down the necessary checks and balances to ensure that the quality of imported product is right and that there is no collusion between the marketers, which will create a distortion in the market.”
He advised that “Labour should also endeavour to put the government on its toe and see that the government puts in place the requisite infrastructure to enable private sector operators function effectively because this will also help in lowering the price of petrol.
“If the government fails to keep its part of the bargain in this deregulation, the sector will remain in a flux and this could affect the cost of petrol. Labour leaders should therefore monitor things to see that the workers get the full benefits of a deregulated market. Labour should note that the market as it is today has only helped a few people.”