Human rights lawyer Femi Falana (SAN) says the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC)’s ultimatum over the hike in petrol prices is an invitation for the government to review its position on the matter.
President Bola Tinubu had in his inaugural speech declared that “subsidy is gone,” a development that led to the hike in the price of petrol across the country.
The Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) in the wake of the move reviewed its pump price for the product from about N185 to over N500. Since then, the NLC has asked for a reversal, threatening to protest next Wednesday.
But while speaking in a television conversation, Falana said the ultimatum is an opportunity for the government.
“Government has begun discussions with the Nigeria Labour Congress which perhaps should have preceded the announcement. But it is a new government and I expect as a new government, they should take advantage of the opportunity,” he said on Friday.
“When workers issue an ultimatum, in Nigeria and wherever it is an invitation for the government to review its position,” the lawyer added. “The government this time around will have to look at the totality of the economy. What you call fuel subsidy is an infinitesimal aspect of subsidies in the country.”
Fuel subsidy is only a small portion of what government spends in subsidising the country’s bourgeoisie, says Femi Falana.
According to him, the government has other forms of subsidies benefiting some sects of persons.
As far as he is concerned, the removal of the subsidy means the government cannot tackle smuggling and has now “punished the people”.
He also lamented the dollarisation of Nigeria’s economy, reiterating his claims that some schools and other businesses now take payments in dollars.
“Why must I be looking for dollars in my country? Why should some schools be collecting dollars as fees? Rents being collected in dollars? Some fees are paid in dollars to professionals,” he said, describing it as illegal.
“These guys are ruining the economy by spending dollars irresponsibly,” he noted.