by Kazim Ugbodga

The Nigeria Labor Congress (NLC) has condemned the steep hike in the price of petrol by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited and called for its rollback.

The NLC, in a statement issued by its president Joe Ajairo on Wednesday, said it was concerned that the government, through the NNPC, was unable to manage the unilateral but unfortunate announcement of withdrawal by the President despite the ongoing meeting of stakeholders in the oil and gas sector. Was walking for Subsidy on petroleum products, went ahead this morning to announce a new regime of prices under a new pricing template.

“It is an ambush and runs against the spirit and principles of social dialogue which is the best forum available for resolution of all issues arising from the petroleum down-stream sector.

“The government cannot talk about deregulation in one breath and at the same time fix prices of petroleum products. It negates the spirit of allowing the free market to operate unless the government wants to usurp, occupy, or become market forces as usual.

“Hence this is unacceptable and we strongly condemn it. Good faith negotiation is the key to reaching agreement. What the government has done is point a gun at the heads of Nigerians and undermine dialogue by putting undue pressure on leaders,” he said.

Ajairo called upon the federal government to immediately direct the NNPC to withdraw this annoying pricing template to allow free flow of discussions by the parties.

He added that Nigerians would not accept manipulation of any kind from any party, especially representatives of the government.

“Our commitment to this process is anchored in the fact that all parties will commit to ensuring that it is carried out within a framework of independence without undue coercion.

“If nothing is done to withdraw it then the release of that blueprint may not allow us to continue so that the dialogue can continue unhindered. It is clear that the government is actually trying to sabotage the process. Still working.

“As it stands, the federal government is fixated on its chosen course of action. Will it help this dialogue? It clearly will not. Allowing concessions and reasonable accommodation that will produce the best results for Nigerians There should be flexibility to deliver. That is what we all want at this time,” he said.

On Wednesday, the NNPC confirmed a hike in the price of the petroleum product, which now sells for between N488 and N555 per litre.