This statement was made today by the information minister, Lai Mohammed while speaking to news men shortly after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja today, Wednesday.
He went on: “it is like somebody who has been earning N100,000 a month and he is faced with a situation where his employer says henceforth you will be earning N10,000 a month. He would need to make some very painful decisions and some very painful adjustments.
“That is the situation with Nigeria today. A few months ago, we were earning as much as $100 for every barrel of crude. In the months of February and March, we were short of…so, we no longer have the resources, the foreign exchange to bring in refined fuel products.
“And our economy is shrinking. We appreciate the fact that the decision is going to affect everybody. We appreciate what we are going through, but Nigerians should also know that the government has the responsibility at times to take very difficult decisions. So, it is not always about popularity.”
Lai Mohammadu spoke along with the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami and Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola as well as Labour Minister, Dr. Chris Ngigie. FEC was held to review most contemporary national issues which prominently revolved around the fuel hike, its attendant challenges and industrial action by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC).
This came even as the Minister of Labour, Ngige denied allegations that the government is encouraging labour factionalism by negotiating with both Ayuba Wabba and Joe Ajaero led factions at separate meetings to forestall the planned strike.
Ngige said that the door is still open for talks with the federal government, saying: “we are ready to discuss with anybody even civil society groups. We as government will not encourage factionalism, if for anything we are unifying them by bringing them together to talk about issues that concern their unions and Nigerians.
“We have a right to talk to whoever we want. We will open our doors to them for negotiations when they come back.”
The Minister said that government has agreed to reconstitute the Board of Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) which is one of the demands of the NLC.
According to Nigige, the reconstitution would be done within a fortnight from now to accommodate input from Labour in the new development.
Similarly, the AGF, Malami discountenanced criticisms arising from the federal government legal approach for injunction against the industrial action, saying that it was necessary especially as NLC did not give the government the constitutional 15 days notice. [myad]