Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) has reacted to the plan by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) to embark on a nationwide strike next Wednesday over the removal of fuel subsidy.
Recall that President Bola Tinubu had in his inaugural speech declared that “fuel subsidy is gone,” a development that led to the hike in the price of petrol across the country.
Following the announcement by the President, the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) reviewed its pump price for the product from about N185 to over N500.
Since the move by the oil corporation, the NLC has asked for a reversal of the removal of fuel subsidy and threatened to protest next Wednesday over the hike in petrol price.
But while speaking on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Friday, Falana said the NLC’s ultimatum over the hike in petrol prices is a chance for the government to review its position on the matter.
The senior lawyer stated that the government will have to look at the totality of the economy before removing the subsidy.
He said: “Government has begun discussions with the Nigeria Labour Congress which perhaps should have preceded the announcement. But it is a new government and I expect as a new government, they should take advantage of the opportunity.
“When workers issue an ultimatum, in Nigeria and wherever it is an invitation for the government to review its position.
“The government this time around will have to look at the totality of the economy. What you call fuel subsidy is an infinitesimal aspect of subsidies in the country.”
Falana stressed that the government has other forms of subsidies benefiting some sects of persons, adding that the removal of the subsidy means the government cannot tackle smuggling and has now “punished the people”.
He also lamented the dollarisation of Nigeria’s economy, reiterating his claims that some schools and other businesses now take payments in dollars.
“Why must I be looking for dollars in my country? Why should some schools be collecting dollars as fees? Are rents being collected in dollars? Some fees are paid in dollars to professionals.
“These guys are ruining the economy by spending dollars irresponsibly and it is illegal,” he noted.