NIGERIAN labour leaders have issued a two-week ultimatum to the federal government to reverse the recent hikes in electricity tariffs and fuel pump prices or face the prospect of nationwide industrial action.
Badly hit by the recent coronavirus pandemic, Nigeria’s economy is in the doldrums as the lockdown precipitated by the spread of the virus has resulted in a collapse in the price and demand of crude oil. With over 90% of government revenue coming from the sale of petroleum, the Nigerian government is severely cash strapped and is desperately looking for money from other sources.
Already, the government has had to borrow about $10bn from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to finance the 2020 budget. Faced with a impossible set of choices, the government has opted to remove the subsidy it pays on domestic petrol and has also hiked electricity tariffs to help full the black hole in its finances.
These measures have not gone down well with the Nigerian public, however, with civil society groups saying the common man is being asked to pay for the government’s failing. One major criticism the government is facing is that it did not save for a rainy days when oil prices were high and revenue generated during boom times was squandered through irresponsible governance.
Now the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has waded into the debate, giving the federal government two weeks to rescind the removal of subsidies and the hiking of electricity tariffs or face civil unrest. NLC president, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, said the ultimatum takes immediate effect, warning that it would mobilise its members nationwide for protests after September 28.