The Nigeria Labour Congress ( NLC ) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) have strongly criticized President Bola Tinubu’s proposed N500 billion palliative, stating that it is grossly inadequate to alleviate the hardships faced by workers following the removal of fuel subsidy. In response, they are demanding a significant 300% salary increase to enable workers to cope with the challenging economic situation resulting from the controversial decision.
President Tinubu had sent a letter to the House of Representatives, seeking approval for the N500 billion fund aimed at cushioning the effects of petrol subsidy removal. The letter was read during the House plenary by Speaker Tajudeen Abbas.
In the letter, the President proposed an amendment to the 2022 Supplementary Appropriation Act, emphasizing the importance of providing palliatives to mitigate the impact of fuel subsidy removal on Nigerians. The requested amount of N500 billion would be extracted from the 2022 Supplementary Act, which initially allocated N819,536,937,815.
However, the NLC and TUC expressed deep dissatisfaction with the amount mentioned in the President’s letter, asserting that it would be insufficient to address the challenges faced by the estimated 125 million Nigerians living in poverty. Hakeem Ambali, the National Treasurer of the NLC, questioned the extent to which the proposed palliative would cover the economic hardships faced by the majority of Nigerians. To tackle these challenges, the NLC demanded a substantial 300% salary increase for all workers. Additionally, they suggested other measures such as granting licenses for modular refineries, providing economic stimulus loans to SMEs at a reasonable interest rate, and offering social benefits for the older people and unemployed youth.
The Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) and the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) expressed their support for the concept of palliatives but raised concerns about the allocation and utilization of the N500 billion fund. They stressed the need for more transparency and information on how the funds would be spent before making further comments on the matter.
President Tinubu assured Nigerians that a framework for palliatives was being developed to address the consequences of fuel subsidy removal. He acknowledged the challenges faced by the people and appealed for patience. The President emphasized that the palliatives were designed to provide relief to those affected and stated his commitment to ensuring a comprehensive social security structure that would not be compromised.
In conclusion, the NLC and TUC’s demand for a significant salary increase and their critique of the N500 billion palliative underscore the gravity of the hardships faced by workers following the removal of fuel subsidy. President Tinubu’s assurance of palliatives and his call for patience demonstrate his commitment to addressing the economic impact of the subsidy removal on Nigerians.