Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed on Saturday pleaded with the labour union to suspend its planned nationwide strike over petrol and electricity tariff hike.
Recall the government and the organised labour, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC), failed to reach an agreement on Thursday over the increase in petrol price and electricity tariffs in the country.
According to Mohammed, the timing of the increase in the petroleum and power sectors was a necessary coincidence and not a plan by the government to increase the current economic realities of Nigerians.
He said: “We wish to appeal to organize labour to shelve its planned strike, which can only bring more hardship to ordinary Nigerians.
“The timing of these two necessary adjustments, , has raised some concerns among Nigerians and reinforced the false narrative that the government is insensitive to the plight of the citizens. This is a mere coincidence. First, the deregulation of PMS prices was announced on 18 March 2020, and the price modulation that took place at the beginning of this month was just part of the on-going monthly adjustments to global crude oil prices.
“Also, the review of service-based electricity tariffs was scheduled to start at the beginning of July 2020 but was put on hold so that further studies and proper arrangements can be made. Like Mr. President said at the opening of the last Ministerial Retreat, this government is not insensitive to the current economic difficulties our people are going through and the very tough economic situation we face as a nation. We certainly will not inflict hardship on our people. But we are convinced that if we stay focused on our plans, brighter and more prosperous days will come soon.
“We thank Nigerians for their understanding, and wish to appeal to them to please bear with the government. The deregulation of the petroleum sector will save the country trillions of Naira, which can then be used to provide modern infrastructures for the benefit of the people. It will also spur investments in the petroleum industry, especially in the building of local refineries which will result in lower fuel prices.
“Also, the service-based electricity tariff adjustment and the ongoing work by German company Siemens to boost power supply in Nigeria will help end the perennial power problem in the country. I remind you that under the three-phase Siemens deal, Nigerians will enjoy 7,000 megawatts of reliable power supply by the end of 2021 (phase 1), 11,000 megawatts by the end of 2023 (phase 2) and 25,000 megawatts in the third phase.”