. As labour suspends planned action
The Federal Government, yesterday, proposed an 18-month extension for the removal of petroleum subsidy, thereby pushing the challenge to the incoming administration.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, disclosed this while briefing journalists at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He said the decision was reached as a result of President Mohammadu Buhari’s insistence that all the necessary structures must be put in place to cushion the effects of the removal of subsidy.
He quoted the President as saying the removal of fuel subsidy is not on the cards for now, and has therefore approved its suspension until further notice.
He added that the government will continue to engage the leadership of the organised labour, who had planned a nationwide protest on January 27, if the removal sailed through.
Sylvia disclosed that the executive will propose an 18-month extension to the National Assembly for the implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), which was meant to take-off this February.
He said: “We don’t intend to remove subsidy now. That is why are making this announcement.
“We also see the legal implication. There is a six month provision in the PIA which will expire in February, and that is why we are coming out to say that before the expiration of this time, as I said earlier, we will engage the legislature. We believe that this will go to the legislature; we are applying for amendment of the law so that we would still be within the law.
“We will propose an 18-month extension and then it is up to the National Assembly to look at it and pass the amendment as they see it.
“Somebody mentioned here the possibility of gradual increase; that is not on the table as well. Gradual or increment in whatever guise is not on the table.
“We are going to see how to rejig the law; this is not going to be the only amendment to the PIA. A few months ago, the President already proposed an amendment to the law.”
We will propose an 18-month extension and then it is up to the National Assembly to look at it and pass the amendment as they see it. Somebody mentioned here the possibility of gradual increase; that is not on the table as well. Gradual or increment in whatever guise is not on the table.
The proposal to shift the removal of fuel subsidy, comes as the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), also announced the suspension of its proposed nationwide protest.
The NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, who made this announcement, told journalists yesterday in Abuja that the decision was in response to the Federal Government’s suspension of removal of subsidy on petrol.
He said: “Following the reversal and re-approach by the government, the National Executive Council of the Nigeria Labour Congress had an emergency virtual meeting this morning to consider the new position of the government.
“After vigorous debates, the NEC decided to suspend the planned nationwide protest scheduled for 27th January 2022, and the national protest in Abuja scheduled for 2nd February 2022.”
He also said the leadership of the Congress has communicated its decision to its civil society allies who have stood behind Nigerian workers in its quest for social and economic justice for workers and the downtrodden Nigerians.
He however assured that the Congress will “continue to engage with the government on the very critical issues of ensuring local refining of petroleum, creation of sustainable jobs, and provision of petrol at an affordable price for Nigerian workers and people.”