The removal of the fuel subsidy in Nigeria has sparked widespread discontent and protests. The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) expressed its readiness to fight against the economic difficulties caused by the government’s decision to remove the subsidy. University workers from various unions, including the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities and the University of Lagos chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, also joined the protests, along with members of the Edo Civil Society Organisations. They all voiced their concerns and criticized the removal of the subsidy, calling it an unintelligent move.
The NLC’s Central Working Committee planned to convene an important meeting to address the issues related to the suffering of the masses due to the recent price hike in petrol (PMS) prices. The situation remains tense as various groups and unions oppose the subsidy removal and its impacts on the people.
“We are going to give the Federal Government an ultimatum. We have given them enough leverage to take care of Nigerians and make amends, but they have refused to make amends. Let them prepare themselves because we are preparing. We are ready to fight back,” he said,
The Trade Union Congress opposes state governments’ plans to provide palliatives to citizens to alleviate the hardships caused by fuel subsidy removal. President Bola Tinubu announced the end of the fuel subsidy, causing a significant increase in petrol prices.
The National President of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities expressed concern over the lack of progress since the subsidy removal, stating that Nigerians are suffering and distressed due to the fuel price hikes.
He noted, “The government removed the subsidy very unintelligently; now that they have removed the subsidy, nothing has changed except that people can’t feed, we can’t pay our children’s school fees, and people are committing suicide.
“We lamented the way the government handled this idea of subsidy removal; we welcome the removal if that will be the solution to Nigeria’s problems. But the government is not strategic with the removal; you have thrown people into anguish, into the wild forest, and people are scampering.”
The fuel price hike has had a significant impact on university workers and students. The distance between many university campuses and residential areas requires daily commutes of 15 to 20 km. With the increased fuel prices, a full tank of fuel no longer lasts a week, posing practical difficulties for work and daily activities.
Moreover, the government has not fulfilled its promises, as university workers still await the settlement of four months’ Salary. This situation has caused frustration and lamentation among the affected individuals.
Mohammed added, “Salary not reviewed, and other promises made by the past government are not being fulfilled. They owe us four months’ Salary; the revitalization funds have not been paid.
“If they feel the plight of Nigerians and of university staff, they will fulfill all their promises and meet up with the commitment of Earned Allowance and review salaries so that people can face their jobs. All civil servants have been exposed to hardship, so how can they stop corruption?”
In addition, Prof. Kayode Adebayo, the Chairman of ASUU at the University of Lagos, stated that the removal of the fuel subsidy has made living in Nigeria challenging for lecturers and all citizens alike. He urged the government to take decisive action and bring joy back to the people’s lives.
Adebayo added, “All lecturers are paid peanuts; this was part of the reasons we fought against the government about the 2009 agreement. We tried to negotiate; no need to pretend; the situation is still the same. Just as it is tough for ordinary Nigerians, so it is tough for us too.
“Government is responsible for the security of the citizens. The citizen welfare has been compromised. The government needs to put a smile on the faces of Nigerians. Nigerian citizens are hardworking and understanding, and that is why we say Nigerians are the most docile people in the world.
“The government needs to look at the plight of the citizens. We have what it takes to build a country that everybody will be proud of, not people who will finish (graduate) here and be looking abroad for greener pastures.”
According to The information, it was revealed that the Federal Government owes ASUU seven and a half months’ Salary, which remains unsettled since the union members went on strike last year. Dr. Adedeji Oyenuga of Lagos State University shared his personal experience, stating that he now spends much more on fuel for his children’s car due to the subsidy removal.
In Benin City, Edo State, citizens held protests against the fuel subsidy withdrawal, which resulted in sharp increases in fuel prices and the cost of goods and services. The protesters demanded palliatives to ease the burden on the poor masses. The Edo Civil Society Organisations expressed appreciation for the subsidy removal but urged the government to implement measures to cushion the impact on the vulnerable.
However, the Trade Union Congress expressed concern over states’ planned rollout of palliatives, expressing a lack of trust in state governors to manage the process effectively. They emphasized the need for specific and transparent measures to assist citizens during this challenging time.
The TUC also rejected the proposed 7.5% Value Added Tax on diesel and called for policies supporting the country’s exchange rate. Additionally, they urged the government not to increase electricity tariffs, warning that Nigerians’ endurance is reaching its limit.
Regarding state responses, Kwara State Governor approved various palliatives to counter the effects of the subsidy removal, spanning different sectors and demographics. Ogun State also announced palliatives to alleviate the hardship caused by the fuel subsidy removal.