The Trade Union Congress (TUC) encourages the Federal Government to go beyond its commitments and go to work to alleviate Nigerians’ economic hardships.
Since taking office in May, President Bola Tinubu has terminated fuel subsidies and floated the naira, resulting in a tripling of petrol prices and an increase in the cost of living.
Although the Federal Government has announced steps to mitigate the effects of the relocation through many meetings with organised labour, Festus Osifo, President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), is mourning the country’s hardship and calling for action to address it.
He was interviewed for Channels Television’s Politics Today on Friday.
“As an average Nigerian, one of the things you spend your hard-earned money on is actually food. The government must do something,” the TUC chief added.
“We’ve had a lot of rhetoric: ‘We’ve declared a state of emergency on food security’. We have had a lot of meetings and summits on issues like this. Nigerians are tired of meetings, summits, and rhetoric. Today, the cost of items in the market has skyrocketed and gone over the roof.”
Labour had reached an agreement with the Federal Government over the rising cost of living in the wake of the subsidy removal. But the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the TUC have issued an ultimatum to the government to fulfill its end of the deal.
In the wake of the prevailing hardship, government officials have repeatedly urged Nigerians to be patient over the reforms, which Tinubu says will bring in more foreign investment to Africa’s largest economy.
But the short-term impact is hitting Nigerians hard: Inflation was at 28.92 percent in December, with food costs at 33.93 percent, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
The naira currency has fallen swiftly against the US dollar since the government ended a multi-tier exchange rate system and freed up the local currency.
Before the reforms, the naira was trading at around 450 to the dollar, but on Monday it was trading at 1,400 to the dollar.
In the heat of the prevailing hardships, Nigerians have taken to the streets in Kano, Niger, and Osun states, asking the government to ameliorate their plight.
The Federal Government has also waded into the matter with Tinubu ordering the release of 42,000 metric tons of grains from strategic reserves.