NLC rejects Tinubu’s N500bn subsidy palliative for Nigerians, asks him to increase minimum wage by 300%

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The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) have rejected the N500bn palliative proposed by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, stating that it is grossly inadequate to assuage the hardships confronting workers sequel to the fuel subsidy removal.

They are demanding a 300 percent salary increase to enable workers to cope with the challenges imposed by the deteriorating economic situation that came with the removal of the controversial fuel subsidy.

Recall that on Wednesday, July 12, 2023, the President wrote to the House of Representatives seeking approval for N500bn to cushion the effects of petrol subsidy removal.

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Tinubu’s request was contained in a letter sent to the National Assembly and read during plenary by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas.

The President had announced the petrol subsidy removal during his inaugural address on May 29, 2023, in response to claims that the subsidy regime favoured the rich more than the average Nigerians, among other reasons.

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In his letter, the President proposed an amendment to the 2022 Supplementary Appropriation Act.

It read, “I write to the House of Reps to approve the amendment of the 2022 Supplementary Appropriation Act in accordance with the attached.

“The request has become necessarily important to, among other things, the source for funds necessary to provide palliatives to mitigate the effect of the removal of fuel subsidy on Nigerians.

“Thus, the sum of N500bn only has been extracted from the 2022 Supplementary Act of N819,536,937,815 for the provision of palliative to cushion the effect of petrol subsidy removal.”

The president said he hoped the lawmakers would consider his request “expeditiously.”

The House is expected to hold a plenary today on the president’s request.

Last December, the National Assembly passed a supplementary budget of N819bn for the 2022 fiscal year and also extended the implementation of the 2022 budget till March 31, 2023.

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In May, the National Assembly passed the amendment to the 2022 supplementary budget to extend the implementation of the capital components to December 2023.

But unimpressed by the amount contained in the President’s letter, the NLC noted that the money would not be enough to cater for 125 million Nigerians who are believed to be living in poverty.

The National Treasurer of the NLC, Hakeem Ambali, who spoke in an interview with PUNCH in Abuja, questioned the extent to which the palliative would cover.

When asked if the amount would be sufficient, he said, “Definitely not. We have over 125m Nigerians that are technically poor. To what extent can this cushion the effects of this economic hardship?”

Speaking on ways by which the President can mitigate the effect of subsidy removal, the NLC official asked for “Minimum wage review of 300 per cent to all workers; granting licences to individuals for modular refineries to refine petrol locally; granting economic stimulus loan to SMEs  at 15 per cent rate.’’

He added, ‘’The government should provide social benefits for aged and unemployed youths; agric loans to farmers and youths through the Agric Bank and community banks at single digit rate; provide alternative energy supply such as massive investment in solar power and Compressed Natural Gas to motorists.

“Fix the refineries; reverse the privatization of electricity back to the state due to poor performance; Execute metro rail line projects in all state capitals and reduction of school fees for students of tertiary institutions.”

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