Will Nigerian unions heed calls to suspend the fuel subsidy strike?

By 'Tofe Ayeni
Posted on Wednesday, 26 January 2022 08:11

Protest over fuel and power price rises in Gwagwalada
Activists during a protest over fuel and power price rises in Gwagwalada, Nigeria October 1, 2020. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) are to follow through with plans for a nationwide strike on Thursday 27 January, despite the Federal Government planning to reverse plans to cut fuel subsidy

In December 2021, the two organisations announced nationwide protests against the increase of petrol pump prices.

Although the federal government seems to be reversing, or at least postponing, the plans to remove fuel subsidy, the trade unions appear to want to flex their political muscles.

The NLC announced through their Twitter account (last used in June 2021 in speaking out against the governor of Kaduna) that the protests will go on as planned.

What is the government’s new plan?

Urging the NLC and TUC to call off the protests, Senate President Ahmad Lawan said that the federal government was reconsidering the removal of the subsidy.

However, he highlighted that: “The position of everyone in the government today is that admittedly, subsidy administration and management are flawed because of so many reasons … the burden is huge … there is a need at one point to do away with the subsidy … [but] sufficient planning needs to be done.”

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, echoed the sentiment, saying that the government has postponed the removal of subsidy until further notice

“After the budget was passed, we had consultations with a number of stakeholders and it became clear that the timing was problematic”, says Ahmed, “We discovered that, practically, there is still heightened inflation and that the removal of subsidy would further worsen the situation and impose more difficulties on the citizenry.”

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Analysts have previously been skeptical that the politically-sensitive issue of fuel subsidy removal would be tackled in a pre-election year.

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