by Hauwa Gambo
Yesterday, the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency announced that it would stop paying the subsidy to petroleum importers immediately. The move could see gas prices increase from the current level but the government estimated it could save $8 billion by phasing out subsidies, and planned to use that money to help the poor.
The Trade Union Congress of Nigerian (TUC) disagreed; instead, they announced that the President has declared a total war on the poor masses of this country. The Trades Union Congress and Nigerian Labour Congress have since called for mass action. “We alert the populace to begin immediate mobilisation towards the D-Day for the commencement of the strikes, street demonstrations and mass protests across the country,” they said in a joint statement.
The TUC described President Jonathan’s action as dictatorial and undemocratic. They insisted that until new refineries were built and the old or existing ones were made to function optimally, there cannot be a removal of petroleum subsidy.
The National Secretary of the National Union of Petroleum Employers and Natural Gas workers (NUPENG), Mr Elijah Okougbo, also reacted to the fuel subsidy removal stating that the removal of subsidy on petrol is just a means of making the masses suffer.
As at yesterday, 1 January, panic buying was reported in some areas around the country and some petrol stations were said to have started hording fuel. Nigeria is a top producer of crude, but virtually all of its petroleum products are imported after years of graft, mismanagement and violence at its refineries.