The organised labour on Friday stormed out of the meeting of the Presidential Steering Committee on subsidy palliatives that was scheduled to take place at the presidential villa, Abuja.
The President of the NLC, Joe Ajaero, had led his delegation to the Chief of Staff’s office, venue of the meeting at about 5pm but were soon on their way out of the villa.
Recall that the Steering Committee meeting had met with the government delegation on Wednesday where the two parties agreed to reconvene on Friday to get brief from the three subcommittees set up to look into various demands.
The Steering Committee was set up by the government to come up with palliatives that would cushion the effect of fuel subsidy removal on the workers.
But the meeting could not proceed because according to some members of the Steering Committee, there was no quorum.
The meeting was part of the process of arriving at sustainable decisions on the palliatives to be provided to Nigerians due to the removal of subsidy on petrol by the federal government.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, the NLC President, Comrade Joe Ajaero had insisted: “We are going ahead with the protest because we have to be emphatic on what we put in our communique, to say we’re commencing protests from the 2nd.”
On his part, the TUC President, Festus Osifo, said that both sides listened to the presentations from the Steering Committee secretariat and Labour made its input into it.
“Some of the things they presented we did not agree with them. So, the areas we did not agree, we also made our impute known because when you come to such meeting it is for government or its representatives to do a presentation.
“But it’s left for us to either agree or disagree. So, during the meeting, we gave them sufficient feedback. And they also agreed to go and look at those feedbacks and get back to us on Friday,” Osifo stated.
However, the Special Adviser to the President on Energy, Ms. Olu Verheijen, who spoke on the government side progress had been made in the discussion.
She explained: “We’ve agreed to continue to make progress. It was a very productive meeting. The focus was really around how we fasttrack a lot of the interventions that will bring relief, particularly around CNG, mass transportation, cleaner energy, transportation, and reduce the impact of the cost of transportation, the increased cost of transportation.
“So we’ve made good progress. And we’re going to continue to do so and so that we can start rolling out these opportunities and this relief and measures as quickly as possible.”
On why government is dragging its feet in rolling out palliatives, she said: “We have to get it right. It’s important that we do this well, and we keep our promises. So, it’s important that whatever is announced actually gets done. Because we don’t want to make big announcements that will continue to lose people’s trust.
“It’s important that we build trust, and that most of the announcements and the plans that we roll out are credible and impactful.”
“President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is working assiduously to address all of these issues. And as quickly as he can. He’s very empathetic, he is concerned about it, as you’ve seen all of us working round the clock here to make sure that we are able to announce these measures as quickly as possible. It’s a whole package of issues that we’re rolling out as quickly as possible,” the presidential aide had assured.