- Nigeria's main trade union, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), has reports that the official prices of petroleum products are not being implemented throughout the country as agreed upon. As a consequence, the union announces new mass action and strikes if official prices are not "effected by 15 December".
The NLC says it continues to receive reports from all parts of Nigeria, "indicating the refusal or failure of the federal government to implement official prices of petroleum products." Further, there were reports about acute shortages of petroleum products in filling stations across the country, including in the federal capital, Abuja.
- The situation has enthroned anarchy in the land and would appear that government is manipulating product supply as a source of frustrating Nigerians so as to compel them to accept higher prices, according to NLC Secretary-General John Ejoha Odah. He added that it was the "duty of government to ensure unencumbered supply of petroleum products at the current agreed rates."
The powerful trade union has organised several popular strikes against the government's price hikes on petroleum products. A general strike threatening to paralyse Nigeria's oil sector - the country's principal foreign currency earner - was avoided at the last moment in mid-November after the federal government offered an almost 10 percent cut in the price of domestic fuels.
The wave of popular strikes organised by the NLC started as a wave of protests over a 23-percent increase for domestic fuels ordered by the government in September. President Olusegun Obasanjo wants to eliminate the costly fuel subsidies in Africa's biggest oil exporter, saying these funds could be used more efficiently to reduce poverty.
NLC leader Adams Oshiomhole however has emerged a strong alternative voice in Nigeria, claiming that increased oil prices would hurt one of the few advantages Nigerians and Nigerian companies have for being a major oil producer. The NLC's strike actions against the government's price hikes have been met with an increasingly popular mobilisation.
Now, the NLC claims that the government is undermining the November deal by withholding petroleum products from the market and creating acute shortages. "We are worried that government is manipulating product supply with the objective of blackmailing Nigerians to abandon currently agreed prices," the trade union says.
- Nigerians have been very patient so far, Mr Odah said today. The union was therefore calling on the government to "immediately" ensure availability of petroleum products in all filling stations across the country, the NLC leader added.
In addition, the union notified the federal government of further mass action if petroleum products were not adjusted to the agreed rates within one week, by 15 December. If this was not the case, "the NLC will lead the populace across the country to enforce the prices," the trade union threatened.
The NLC did not elaborate on how it planned to "enforce" the prices agreed upon. The government of President Obasanjo yet has to answer to the union's threat, which by experience is to be taken seriously.
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