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Fuel Price Hike,Subsidy: What Nigerian Governors Are Planning

Fuel Price Hike,Subsidy: What Nigerian Governors Are Planning

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In a bid to forestall a planned nationwide protest against the federal government’s proposed increase in the pump price of petrol, Nigerian governors have resolved to dialogue with organised labour.

Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and Ekiti State governor, Kayode Fayemi, who disclosed this to newsmen on Wednesday night after a meeting of the forum, said the issue of fuel price increase was a joint decision.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), through the secretary general, Emmanuel Ugbooaja, has however vowed to go ahead with the nationwide protest.

The National Economic Council has recently projected the  pump price of petrol  will increase from the N162-N165 per litre to N302, which is generating angst among Nigerians.

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The governors’ forum has, therefore, decided to engage with labour leaders to find a way around the matter.

Fayemi said: “The Forum also discussed the issue around petroleum subsidy and concluded to engage the leadership of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) on how best to address this issue without causing any disaffection to salvaging the Nigerian economy for the Nigerian people at the end of the day.

“So, we shall be engaging Nigeria Labour Congress as subnational leaders with a view to ensuring that the outcome of our engagement will also be fed into the national discourse.”

Asked if the governors were not part of the planned increase, Fayemi said: “To the best of my knowledge, the report you are talking about is not a report from the governors; it wasn’t the report from the Governors’ Forum.

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“The national economic council chaired by the vice president of Nigeria has been dealing with this issue over time. And it is not up to the subnational to decide what happens to PMS (premium motor spirit) prices; it is entirely the exclusive responsibility of the federal government.

“However, we are critical stakeholders and we are members of the National Economic Council (NEC) so we contribute to debate in the National Economic Council but ultimately whatever we contribute to, it is the decision of the National Economic Council; it is not the decision of governors, especially in view of the passage of the Petroleum Industry Act – that’s taken out of our hands completely. It’s a matter for the petroleum sector.”

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On the position of the governors on subsidy removal, he said: “Well, for us at the Forum, it is a matter that is a going concern. We don’t have a definitive issue on it because it is left for the petroleum industry. It is not for us; NNPC is now a private company and the company should decide what it wants to do with the price of the product; it shouldn’t be the business of the governors.”

The governors also commended the Senate for the quick passage of the electoral bill, stating that it would enable the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) to prepare speedily for the 2023 elections.

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He said: “On the electoral Act, governors commend the Senate of the Federal Republic for accelerating the removal of the contentious clause in the draft electoral bill and hope that the second chamber, the House of Representatives, will also follow suit, so that the revised electoral bill can return to Mr. President for assent, so that, that can then enable various institutions, particularly INEC, to proceed at pace with the responsibility towards the various elections in 2022 and 2023.”

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The NGF chair also revealed that the governors also discussed health issues particularly the Omicron variant of COVID-19 and how to drive vaccination as well as more funding for the states.

He said: “We also discussed the health update, particularly the COVID m-19 infection, and expressed happiness that the current omicron variant has been declining progressively.

“However, we also noted that there’s a need for states led by us to ramp up the COVID-19 vaccination exercise.

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“On nutrition, it remains a priority of the government. Governors concluded that we need to increase our support for budgetary provisions for our nutrition.”

Governor Fayemi said that the governors received briefings from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other briefings that will aid the states.

Fayemi further stated that the NGF received briefing on the ease of doing business in the states.

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“We received a presentation from the Presidential Enabling Environment Council (PEVEC) on the ease of doing business and discussed the next phase of the ease of doing a business survey with the special adviser to Mr. President on ease of doing business, Dr. Oduwole, and the country director of the World Bank.

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“The presentation elaborated the need to step up the reform towards increasing the investment climate at the subnational level.

“Governors also reviewed the recently launched National Development Plan, 2021-2025, with a view to ensuring that the national development plan is aligned into an individual state development plan that has been produced, or in the process of being produced, to ensure synergy between the development efforts by the federal as well as state governments.”

On the power asset crisis, Fayemi said: “Well, assets that we discussed relate to assets from the NIPP which belong to federal, state and local governments.

“And our view is that you cannot dispose of the assets without the concurrence of joint owners of the assets. And we are still on that, because the joint owners at the level of states are still making inputs to a committee that was set up to review this matter and further engage the Niger Delta Power Holding Company, host of those assets, and the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE).

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