By G9ija

Labour on Tuesday rejected the increase in the litre price of petrol from N148. 50 to N151.56.

The rejection came on a day some Nigerians, mobilised by the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) and the #RevolutionNow group, protested in city centres against the petrol and electricity tariff hike.

NLC President Ayuba Wabba told reporters in Abuja that the decision to raise the pump price of petrol came as a shock to Nigerians, including Labour.

The increase, Wabba noted, came at a time “when many Nigerians are passing through very peculiar and precarious times”.

He said: “It is like Nigerians are being taken for a ride, the increase in price of petroleum is like adding salt to injury.

“The increase in price of petroleum has happened now more than three times in three months, and they hiked the tariff of electricity.”

The NLC president described as unfortunate that said the CBN compounded the issue by reducing the interest rate on savings which affects mostly the poor and the vulnerable.

“The organised labour therefore rejects the increase in price of the product in the strongest terms,” Wabba said, adding “at the end of the day, Nigerians are becoming poorer and poorer. In fact, many people are already on the edge. Many workers are already on the edged.

“Certainly, we cannot guarantee industrial peace and harmony, and we will have to call our organs and we will have to also react but we reject it in its entirety.

“They have betrayed the trust of Nigerians, for Nigerians to be protected against the economic challenge that is affecting us.”

Also reacting, Prof. Uche Uwaleke, Prof of Finance and Capital Market, Nasarawa State University, told reporters that the new price will heighten inflationary pressure.

He said: “This is clearly a downside risk to inflation. In the coming months, I expect inflationary pressure to heighten as crude oil price recovery in the international market necessitates a hike in domestic pump price of imported fuel. This situation will be compounded by naira devaluation.”

Uwaleke, a former Imo Commissioner for Finance, however, said petrol subsidy that could have been the alternative, cannot be shouldered by the government as there was provision for such in the 2020 Appropriation Act.

Uwaleke said: “Again, expecting a government already saddled with huge debt to borrow to subsidise price of petrol does not make economic sense.

“With all the economic headwinds, there is no question about a spike in cost of living in the coming months.”

On the way forward, the professor said: “The solution remains passing the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) into law to pave way for investors in the oil refining sector which will put a stop to import of petroleum products well before Dangote refinery takes off to fill the gap.”