Chris Steven, Abuja
The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has finally succeeded in making federal government to constitute the Board of Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) with the appointment of former Managing Director of Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC), Alhaji Muhammad Buba.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Engineer Lawal David Babachir announced the appointment of Alhaji Buba on Wednesday in Abuja after a meeting with the leadership of Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) to review issues involved in the new pump price of premium motor spirit (PMS) also known as petrol recently announced by the federal government.
Engineer Babachir said President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the appointment of Alhaji Buba who he said has also expressed willingness to serve on the Board.
It would be recalled that NLC had on Sunday announced the suspension of its indefinite strike to demand for reversal of pump price per liter from N145 to N86.50 with a resolve to enter into negotiation with the Federal Government on the review of minimum wage for workers, electricity tariff and constitution of the Board of PPMC among other issues.
The suspension of the strike followed intervention of the National Leader of All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who last Friday pleaded with the Congress to end the strike in the interest of the nation.
The Board of PPPRA which has the statutory role of determining and fixing the prices of petroleum products has not been constituted for over four years.
He also disclosed that a 16-man committee has been set up to look into the various issues that emanated from the hike in price of petrol such as the minimum wage, implementation of the N500billion palliative in the 2016 budget as well as the review of the pump price.
His words: ” We just finished our meeting with the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and I’m happy to announce we had a very successful meeting with an outcome that will make every Nigerian happy. First of all on the side of the government, we want to thank the Nigerian Labour Congress for their magnanimity in calling off the strike. And we thank Nigerians for being patience while the strike lasted.
In this meeting we have arrived at some major decisions. First of all, you would recall that before we adjourned the last meeting we had basically decided to discuss three major issues. One was the issue of the minimum wage for workers, both in government and in the private. And also Labour had raised yhe issue of requirement to be involved in the implementation of half a trillion naira amount of money in the budget for palliative for Nigerians that are on the fringe of society economically.
Then, Labour had requested that the government reconstitute the Board of PPPRA which they said had it being in place, the issue of the misunderstanding in the price regulation would not have arisen. This evening, I’m proud to announce that, first of all, a 16-man committee has been set up as a technical committee ; half from the labour side and half from the government side to discuss issues concerning the minimum wage, to advice on the setting up and possible modalities of working out the committee to discuss minimum wage issue.
The minimum wage involves almost every segment of the society, so it’s not just federal government and workers alone but also stakeholders, local government, the private sector. So this technical committee will discuss the modalities of how this issue would be brought forward.
Secondly, we have agreed that the 16-man committee will look at the issues of implementation and allocation of resources of that palliative, the half a trillion palliative. The Committee is supposed to work and bring its report to the committee of the Whole within two weeks of their inauguration.
Then the issue of PPPRA Board, I like to announce that the President has agreed and approved the appointment of Alhaji Muhammadu Buba, former Managing Director of PPMC, a very season oil industry downstream expert. Alhaji Muhammadu has agreed to graciously serve in this capacity. It is a 25-member Board. All the members are statutorilly coming from all segments of the society: NLC, related Parastatals, TUC and other non-Governmental Organisations.
Since last week, Office of the Secretary to the Government has sent out letters to respective agencies requesting for their nominees. The list would be complete and we would inaugurate the committee. “
Speaking also, Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige stressed that the review of the minimum wage is a tripartite negotiation arrangement.
He explained that the 16-man committee is expected to work out the framework to constitute the tripartite committee for the minimum wage review.
” I chair the Committee and we are waiting for NLC to forward their nominees so that the committee can be inaugurated sometime next week”
Asked if the committee would also be working with the other faction of NLC, Senator Ngige said ” we don’t know of any faction. We had our problem as a government and NLC is NLC, TUC is TUC. We would not pry into anybody’s problem. If they have in-house problem, they would solve it. Husband and wife have problems and they reconcile. Government would be willing to play major role to make sure we have one indivisible NLC.”
Responding to questions from journalists, NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba who led other labour leaders to the meeting confirmed that the meeting was successful.
“As you are aware we resumed the meeting today and I can tell you the meeting was very successful. We have agreed to have the technical committee to look at the details including the fact that the pricing issue and template would have to be considered by an appropriate body which by law is allowed to do that which is PPPRA. Part of the issue is also to get the board in place.
Remember that for the past four years that board has not been in place and it is their responsibility to interrogate the template and arrive at the price. And I think the board has been constituted, so Labour is coming as a team under Organized Labour. We would come with eight persons and that would look into ancillary issues related to the pump price. But I think the most important issue is that of the PPPRA ” Comrade Wabba said