Nigeria’s organized labor has given the government a 14-day ultimatum to reverse the recent hikes in electricity tariff and fuel price, saying otherwise the country’s workers may down tools.
Nigerians were disappointed that the government decided to increase the cost of electricity and fuel, said Ayuba Wabba, president of the Nigeria Labor Congress (NLC), at a news conference in the country’s capital Abuja on Wednesday.
“We are surprised that at a time other countries across the world are giving palliatives to their citizens to cushion the effect of COVID-19, Nigerians are asked to pay more for fuel and electricity,” he said at the end of the body’s central working committee meeting.
He said that the meeting focused on the two challenges, and concluded that the COVID-19 situation had given Nigerians enough suffering, and hikes in electricity and fuel have reduced the purchasing power of Nigerians.
“After examining the outcome of the meeting, we resolved to issue a two-week ultimatum to the government to reverse the fuel price hike or face industrial action,” he told reporters.
Wabba said the NLC would also mobilize its members, civil society allies and other social partners to try to resist the policies that they claimed have driven many into poverty.
Labor unions have been protesting the price hikes in electricity and fuel in the middle of the economic hardships from the COVID-19 pandemic, but authorities maintained the new rates are in the best interests of Nigerians.
Petrol prices in the oil-rich country have increased for three straight months, rising from slightly over 121 naira (about 0.34 U.S. dollar) per liter in June to over 143 naira in July, 150 naira in August and 162 naira in September, according to local media reports.
As for electricity, authorities have approved a rise in rates starting September, although a previous tariff hike slated for July 1 was halted by Nigeria’s parliament.