Labour Accuses FG of Abandoning Presidential Committee on Palliatives Following Subsidy Removal
In the wake of the subsidy removal that has adversely affected the socio-economic well-being of Nigerians, particularly workers, Organised Labour, represented by the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), has criticized the Bola Tinubu-led Federal Government for disregarding the Presidential Steering Committee set up to devise palliatives to mitigate the impact.
Dr. Tommy Okon, President of ASCSN and a member of the sub-committee of the Presidential Steering Committee on Cost of Governance, expressed disappointment in the administration’s approach to planned palliatives. He accused the government of being dictatorial by sidelining the committee, which was established following threats of strike and mass protests from Organised Labour.
According to Okon, the government’s cash transfer policy, influenced by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, is not conducive to the economy’s well-being. He revealed that the IMF and World Bank suggested a N5,000 template for the cash transfer, which the government brought to their meeting but was rejected by Organised Labour. Okon emphasized that such transfers, even if increased to N20,000 or more, would not effectively address the challenges at hand. He criticized the idea of borrowing money from the IMF and World Bank, only to be told how to spend it without productive investment.
Regarding the recent declaration of a state of emergency on food, Okon stressed that its impact would be limited unless the government takes measures to address the worsening insecurity in the country. He pointed out that farmers are being forced to pay terrorists in some regions to access their farms, undermining food security efforts.
Moreover, Organised Labour called on the government to address the transportation difficulties faced by Nigerians due to the hike in petrol prices. Okon recommended focusing on mass transportation, which would have a positive spillover effect, reducing the cost of goods and services. Additionally, he proposed supporting those in the informal sector engaged in productive ventures by providing them with capital and economic strength, leading to job creation and reduced unemployment.
It is crucial for the government to reconsider its approach to palliatives and involve Organised Labour in devising comprehensive solutions to the challenges arising from the subsidy removal.