Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
Following its emergency session on Monday, the House of Representatives has appealed to the organised labour to shelve the strike scheduled for Wednesday aimed at protesting the removal of fuel subsidy by the Federal Government.
The resolution was however reached after an initial rowdiness caused by protests by members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of the admittance of the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, into the chambers.
The lawmakers eventually constituted a 10-man committee to interface with the NLC, TUC, civil society organisations and other stakeholders in the oil industry.
Chaired by the Chief Whip,Hon. Alhassan Ado Doguwa, the committee is expected to submit its report in five days.
The committee was set up after an interactive session with Kachikwu, who disclosed that one of the immediate benefits of subsidy removal is that state governments would find it easier to pay salaries.
Speaker Yakubu Dogara said the lawmakers would further deliberate and take a position on the removal after the ad hoc committee submits its report.
Arguments by the members however indicate that the removal of subsidy would receive the backing of the House.
In his presentation to the lawmakers, Kachikwu disclosed that 65 licences would be issued for modular refineries as part of efforts to boost local refining.
He dispelled reports of non engagement of the labour movement by the federal government before the announcement of subsidy removal.
The Minister also explained that the price band of N135 to N145 is necessary as it is the responsibility of the government to ensure that the pump prices of petrol do not rise astronomically.
“There is never a right time, where we are today is a time thrust on us, it is inevitable,” Kachikwu said and added that there cannot be huge pump price difference at NNPC stations and independent stations to avoid chaos.
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