April 16, 2024

FG, NLC  should avert looming strike

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– Says petrol price hike, hardship will not be permanent

Emmanuel kehinde,Ilorin 

A retired Deputy Director of the defunct Department of Petroleum
Resources, Engineer Sunday Adebayo Babalola, on Thursday, appealed to
the Federal Government under President Bola Tinubu and the organised labour to avert the looming strike.

The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, gave the Federal Government a
seven-day ultimatum to reverse all perceived anti-poor policies, including the recent hike in the pump price of petrol, or face an indefinite nationwide strike from August 2.

Babalola in an interview with Thursday said it would be counterproductive for Nigeria to experience a strike now that it’s economy is very fragile.

He warned that the strike threat by the NLC,  if not averted, could plunge Nigeria into deeper economic woes and more hardship for Nigerians.

He said it would be unwise to dislocate businesses, adding that such would lead to unquantified financial losses and reduce Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product.

Babalola, who is a former  Kwara State governorship aspirant,  urged
the FG and labour to dialogue, adding that labour should not go ahead with the strike.

He also called on the FG to display fidelity to its promises to Nigerians and agreement with labour as a way of averting the strike and cushioning the hardship Nigerians have been plunged into since the removal of subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) otherwise called petrol or fuel.

Babalola said, “We should be patient. This hike will settle itself out. When they removed the subsidy on diesel, 3, or 4 months ago, we were buying diesel for about N1000 per litre. But right now, it has come down to N600 per litre. So it will be moving up and down. Now Nigerians should also be sure that whatever is happening now is temporary. It will abate. I want to assure Nigerians that hard times never last but tough people do. The hard times will, without doubt, go ahead.

“I want to advise Nigerians to cut costs from those things that they
are doing that are sincerely not necessary. For somebody you want to
call and discuss something, call the person on the phone and not you must see the person. There is a saying that ‘talk is in the eye.’ You
do not need to see the person before you talk. So cut unnecessary
expenditure. If and do those things that are truly necessary, everything will eventually stabilise. It is better for us to go through this than for us to pretend that we are doing subsidies
whereas a few are embezzling the nation’s treasure.

“The marketers should import the refined product. It is now an open
system. I want to advise everybody that this thing is not one-way traffic. So many things will be affected by what we are doing now. The exchange rate will affect it, oil prices will affect it.

“The government should just be focused and do the right thing. They
have the facts. They have the data. My advice will be based on what we
read in the newspapers and hear on the television news. But the real advice is if you have the raw data and you analyse it. Then you can give proper advice. But on the surface, they should be focused. 

The issue of palliative subsidy should be totally de-emphasised because we
do not have good statistics that will clearly show who is getting what. So we will be enriching a few people.

.. A few years ago, we had pensioners’ money eaten and some people who are there are still looking for a way to make money out of government. They will just raise a few people or the same set of people who will now find ways to corner the money. Even without NIN, there are fake accounts. You can see it because a lot of people are still doing 419.

“The labour should sheathe their sword because in a turbulent
environment, you can not think of a solution. What will the government
give to the workers? If you add N10,000 or N20,000 to them, how much effect will that have on the school fees? 

How much effect will that have on food, even water they drink? We are not creating or doing the things that will actually help the people. Even if I have ideas for business now, so many things will come to play. Where will I get the capital? You can not go to the bank to take a loan. Interest rates are too high for one to take the loan and there is no moratorium. To take the loan, immediately it will start counting. And you can not take a loan for foreign direct investment because the moment you take the loan, even repatriating the loan to pay back the credit will be difficult because of our exchange rate policies. So a lot of policy directions should be analysed. It is not just, ‘Let us give them more money.’ if you give them more money, inflation will take it.

“They should think together about what will help the generality of the
people and not what will help 30 per cent of the people because everybody that is a salary earner today may not be more than 30 per
cent of the population,. What happens to the remaining 70 per cent?

Both the FG and Labour should avert this strike. They should sheathe their sword and come together and think together. How can we help the populace and not how will we put more money in our pockets that
inflation and exchange rate will eat away and at the end of the day, they are virtually back to square one?

“Govenrment should be serious with its promises. Government should create a good environment for business. That is what the government should be thinking about now. Nigerians are not lazy, Nigerian are hard working and they think. When there is no environment for them to manifest their prowess, what they will do is start looking for other ways to make money and that is what caused 419.”

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