Amaechi Asugwuni, the former Deputy President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), has emphasized that the proposed strike scheduled for Wednesday will proceed without any chance of reversal. Asugwuni alleges that the Federal Government mishandled the process of subsidy removal, leading to fuel shortages nationwide following President Bola Tinubu’s declaration in his inaugural speech that “fuel subsidy is gone.”
During an interview on Channels Television Sunrise Daily on Monday, Asugwuni expressed his belief that implementing a price higher than the current one without a concrete plan for refinery operations would reflect poorly on the country in the eyes of the world. The labor relations consultant emphasized that Nigerians understand the subsidy process and expect the government to have functional refineries in place before removing the subsidy. He stated, “The strike is inevitable because people are aware that the Nigerian government paid subsidies due to its lack of refining capacity. Therefore, removing the subsidy without establishing refineries after 30 years or more indicates incompetence.”
Asugwuni criticized the government’s reliance on the recently commissioned Dangote petrochemical refinery, asserting that it would not reduce the cost of petrol. He pointed out that using Dangote as a benchmark for subsidy removal is unreasonable since Dangote is an individual entity and not the federal government. He further argued that if Dangote could establish a refinery within a few years, the federal government should be capable of building more than four refineries of similar scale in Nigeria. Relying solely on the Dangote refinery would mean transferring the corruption the country is trying to escape to one man, according to Asugwuni.
The consultant claimed that the timing of the introduction of fuel subsidy removal, coinciding with the end of President Buhari’s tenure, was politically motivated to manipulate budget allocations and facilitate the commencement of the Dangote refinery. He stated, “The awareness of Buhari’s action, even though the subsidy ends during his tenure, does not end the government of Nigeria. Therefore, the action they took reflects that after June, there will be no subsidy. It was done politically and not openly announced; it was concealed within the budget plan.”
According to the former NLC deputy, it is illegal for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to raise the price of its products, suggesting the existence of external forces beyond the control of the NNPC. He noted that lawyers have deemed this action illegal and that market forces should not determine a fixed price, as it would imply that some individuals, particularly within the NNPC, still benefit from a subsidy-like arrangement.
Asugwuni expressed his concern that the removal of subsidies would negatively impact the minimum wage and pose economic challenges to the standard of living for Nigerians. He added that the effects of the subsidy removal have not yet evenly permeated through the market.