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El-Rufai to governors: You abandoned me

El-Rufai to governors: You abandoned me

As NGF proposes a fuel price of N380 per litre

Nasir El-Rufai, the governor of Kaduna State, has accused his fellow governors of abandoning him in the fight against the Nigeria Labour Congress.

On Wednesday, El-Rufai said this during a virtual gathering of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum.

A committee set up by the NGF also suggested a petrol price range of N408.5 to N380 per litre at the meeting. It demanded that the fuel subsidy be removed immediately.

El-Rufai had chastised the forum before the committee submitted its draft.

He also blamed an unidentified governor of supplying the NLC with mobilization funds in order to weaken Kaduna State.

Staff in the State began a five-day strike on Monday in protest of El- Rufai’s retrenchment of 45,000 workers and suspected anti-labor policies.

Thugs targeted workers at a rally organized by the NLC on Tuesday, causing chaos in the state and prompting the NLC to release a statement threatening a nationwide strike.

Ayubba Wabba at an NLC rally

Meanwhile, El-Rufai had named the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, wanted for allegedly trying to destroy the state’s economy earlier on Tuesday.

The Governor said he did not receive the necessary support from his colleagues at the NGF meeting on Wednesday.

“I am a governor,” he said. “I am a member of your party.  The only thing I expect from the NGF is their support. That was not included in that statement. I’m being really direct. I may pretend to be political and smile and say all is well, but it isn’t. However, I am used to fighting my own wars.”

The NGF advised the NLC to show caution in its interaction with the Kaduna State Government in a statement issued by its Chairman, Dr Kayode Fayemi, on Monday.

Dr. Kayode Fayemi

“The NGF calls for careful introspection on Labor’s part, as no significant progress has ever been made in an environment of strife and chaos,” it said.

In addition to criticizing the NGF, the governor of Kaduna State described labor unions as Nigeria’s greatest challenge. He noted that governors must work together to confront their challenge in order to protect the country from any further degradation.

“We will combat this,” the governor said. We’re breaking them, and they’ll be afraid to leave town. I’m not going to give them a foothold because this isn’t about unionism. When it comes to worker rights, Kaduna is not the only state where jobs have been laid off. Kaduna is not a territory that owes wages. Kaduna is not a territory where the minimum wage is not paid. Kaduna is not a society with years of unpaid pensions. Why didn’t they make a visit there?

Kaduna was selected for political purposes, and some political interests are funding it. But we will battle them, and we will overcome them, but as the Governor of Bayelsa said, and I have a duty to carry it out because he brought it up, unless we jointly tackle this threat, it will destroy us all, and they (the NLC) will never return to Kaduna after this. You will see that they will never return. They’ll move to other states. It is up to the forum to decide what to do, but we are here, we are prepared, and by God’s grace, we will bring this to a stop.

“I’d like to inform the forum that one of our colleagues, a state governor, actually paid for the NLC to come to Kaduna to do this because people believe it is about politics,” he said. This isn’t a political debate. This is a beast that will devour us all. Kaduna will not be consumed. That is something I am certain of.”

When reminded that the NGF had released a statement on the subject from the chairman’s office, “That press release, with all due respect, was unhelpful,” El-Rufai responded. It was ineffective. It didn’t say anything. It was attempting to be on both sides.”

El-Rufai spoke after Bayelsa State Governor, Douye Diri, expressed disappointment with El-lack Rufai’s of support.

He clarified that the crisis that the governor of Kaduna State was grappling with would soon spread to other states if it was not properly controlled.

“We are a federation, not a unitary form of government,” he said. We were elected to lead various states. We owe accountability to our people, not the NLC, and we should take a united stance.”

Earlier, El-Rufai, the committee’s chairman, clarified that the new subsidy regime was unsustainable because it benefited smugglers and illicit markets in neighboring African countries.

To save the country’s economy, the committee recommended that subsidies be removed immediately.

Nigeria, like other members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, agreed to an output cut to hold prices up, but Nigeria did not completely benefit from the regime due to subsidies, he said.

“Every month, between N70 billion and N210 billion is expected to be spent to retain fuel prices at N162 per litre, which is below the cost price, and the remittance to the federation account will shrink to less than N50 billion or even zero if threats persist,” the Kaduna governor said. We’ve already reached zero. This scenario has happened, as far as I am aware, for tomorrow. Why are we maintaining the N162 price? Since the Federal Government and labor unions negotiated and decided to suspend some industrial action months ago, we’re retaining the price.

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Photographer: Akos Stiller/Bloomberg via Getty Images

“Between N70 billion and N210 billion is expected to be spent every month to hold fuel prices at N162 per litre, which is below the cost price, and the remittance to the federation account will shrink to less than N50 billion per month, if threats continue,” the Kaduna governor said. We’ve now arrived at a point of no return. This scenario has happened, as far as I understand, for tomorrow. Why do we maintain the N162 price? We’re holding the price because the federal government and labor unions met months ago and decided to halt certain strikes.

“Even though we all supported deregulation of petroleum product prices last year, the Federal Government suspended this agreement due to a threat of union strike. This is the source of the problem, and we are now losing between N70 billion and N210 billion per month.”

He went on to say that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation had pledged in the 2021 budget to remit a minimum of N120 billion per month to the federation account, but had been unable to do so.

He also clarified that only about 12 states consumed two-thirds of the highly subsidized gasoline when presenting the committee’s recommendation on the price of gasoline.

The committee suggested that N408.5 per litre be the acceptable price in the circumstances, but that N380 per litre may be the bare minimum if labor union compromises are made.

Governor El-Rufai

“The committee recommends an increase in the PMS pump price from the existing N162 per litre to N408.5 per litre,” El-Rufai said (negotiations with organized labour unions). (Agreement with organized labor): N380 per litre.”

He said that this was appropriate in order to free up funds for vital projects and other obligations.

Other governors who spoke out during the debate included Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State, who said the NNPC’s claim of 93 million litres consumed daily in Nigeria was inappropriate.

Fayemi, who spoke to the media after the event and addressed some of the issues posed, urged labor to give peace a chance in Kaduna by returning to the negotiating table.

In response to a query about the ongoing strike by members of the judiciary and parliament, Fayemi said that most of the problems had been resolved.

He clarified that the forum was in direct talks with members from the National Judicial Council and the Speakers’ Parliament, rather than the striking union.

“It is in the interest of Nigeria that they return to work so that justice can be served to many Nigerians who are awaiting trial or justice,” Fayemi said.

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