The February 25 presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Prince Adewole Ebenezer Adebayo, yesterday criticised the Labour Unions’ hypocritical attitude towards the fuel subsidy removal plan.
Adebayo stated that the unions were in support of all the three major parties (especially the Labour Party which is supposed to be pro-workers interest) that promised to remove the fuel subsidy if voted in office.
He then wondered why the same unions, especially the Trade Union Congress, is criticising the subsidy removal pronouncement as announced by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The SDP candidate said, “They supported the removal of the subsidy with the political parties. They (labour) are now looking for negotiation and discussion when the government that made that policy was around. They didn’t go for negotiation.”
According to him, it was too late in the day for the unions to be complaining about the fuel subsidy removal when they should have tackled the Muhammadu Buhari administration ( the initiator of the removal process) while in office.
He further wondered why they were complaining now when, in actual fact, all of them, Labour Party inclusive (which was supposed to be the workers and unions party), supported the removal.
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“TUC and the Labour were not overseas when the Appropriation Act 2023 was passed. Where were they to engage on that issue?When the debate was still in the open as to whether we should form a government that would remove subsidy or not, they went with the people that said they would remove subsidy. For as long we continue and allow people to take advantage of the leadership of Nigerian workers, we would not address this issue. There are two positions you can take on subsidy.
“Remove or not to remove. They were on the side of removal. They were also around when the immediate past government passed the PIA. PEGASSAN, the industrial Union, representing them, was supporting it. PEGASSAN met in Calabar and said the subsidy must go. In the course of electioneering, the Appropriation Act was passed. They didn’t fight or argue with the government, and the government passed the law. The reason why we are discussing this now because of what I consider a mistake from the president to make a policy statement on that sensitive issue in an unclear way in his inauguration address which has now caused some panic before the policy would take effect”
Adebayo maintained that the results of the election showed that the people also wanted the removal of subsidy, because, “if you look at the votes, you would see that the voters voted overwhelming for the political parties who said they are going to remove fuel subsidy. They voted for APC, PDP, labour in that order.”