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NEC to decide on fuel subsidy removal in June

. NGF to meet with labour over planned strike

Decision on whether to remove the fuel subsidy or not would have to wait until mid-year, as the National Economic Council (NEC), yesterday, failed to reach any concrete resolution on the contentious issue.

Instead of reaching a resolution on the matter, the NEC meeting chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, rather focused on the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic and other epidemics such as Lassa fever and cholera in Nigeria.

This comes as the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), at its meeting, says it will meet with organised labour unions on how best to address the removal of petrol subsidy.

Speculations on the imminent pump price increase have stirred up reactions among Nigerians, with the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) threatening to embark on a strike if the Federal Government goes ahead with the plan.

But speaking on the outcome of the meeting, Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, informed that although a NEC committee had been deliberating on the issue for over a year, is yet to reach a decision on the matter.

Obaseki said: “As you all know and are aware of, the issue of subsidy is one matter that NEC has deliberated on for more than a year; it was a NEC recommendation that has been meeting as to what we should do on the cost of premium motor spirit.

“The cost of PMS is about N160 to a litre whereas every other country around Nigeria costs much more.

“We have spent almost N2 trillion subsidising petroleum products. The issue now is should we continue this regime of money we do not have to continue to subsidise. We realised that less than 1/3 of the states consume all the resources put into subsidy. But NEC has not resolved anything yet.”

He added that with the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) now in place, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited is expected to provide the required funding.

We all know that PIA is now an Act, so if the Minister of Finance has provided for six months, we have to wait to see how the NNPC, which is now a limited liability company will perform; it’s not the governors that would make that decision.

Corroborating, Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule, noted that it was not the Governors’ place to fix fuel price.

He said: “We all know that PIA is now an Act, so if the Minister of Finance has provided for six months, we have to wait to see how the NNPC, which is now a limited liability company will perform; it’s not the governors that would make that decision.”

NGF consultation

At the end of its meeting yesterday, NGF Chairman, Kayode Fayemi, told journalists that the 36 states governors met and discussed issues of national importance including the removal of petrol subsidy and the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.

“We discussed the issue around petroleum subsidy and concluded to engage the leadership of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), and the Trade Union Congress,” he said.

“We will engage them on how best to address this issue without causing any disaffection but with a view to salvaging the Nigerian economy for the Nigerian people at the end of the day.

“So, we shall be engaging the NLC as sub-national leaders and with a view to ensuring that the outcome of our engagement will also be fed into the national discourse.”

On the recommendation of the National Economic Council (NEC) that petrol should be sold for N302 per litre, Fayemi like his counterparts Obaseki and Sule, said the matter was not a decision of the governors but the Federal Government’s exclusive responsibility with the governors contributing to the debate.

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