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Fuel, Naira scarcity: TUC gives FG seven-day ultimatum to end shortage

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.Puts State Council executives on red alert.

.Buhari meets Emefiele, Irabor, Tambuwal, Bagudu, others

.It may disrupt elections’ logistics, INEC chairman tells CBN gov

.’Apex Bank won’t be used to frustrate polls, we’ll provide you cash’

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Obiora Ifoh, Abuja


The Trade Union Congress (TUC) has issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Federal Government to find a lasting solution to the scarcity of petrol and the newly redesigned naira notes which have thrown Nigerians into unprecedented hardship.


The TUC also placed its state executives and members nationwide on alert for further directives which might culminate into an industrial action if nothing was done to address the current situation.


This is contained in a statement jointly signed by its President and Secretary General, Comrade Festus Osifo, and Comrade Nuhu Toro, respectively on Tuesday.


TUC faulted the Federal Government’s policy on the new naira notes, stressing that Nigerians have never been known to have passed through such hardship in the history of the country.


It said: “TUC members like the rest of the Nigerian populace, is bewildered that the country is being dragged through the twin crises of currency and fuel shortages.


“Never in the history of the country have Nigerians been subjected to so much pain, sorrow and anger which threatens to boil over into the streets. Indeed, pockets of protests have broken out in some states.


“Nigerians have never been subjected to the nightmare of being unable to access their hard-earned money in the banks leading to business closures and inability to pay for food, transportation and medical bills amongst other necessities.


“Also, the situation where the populace is forced to buy Nigerian currency or part with a significant percentage of cash just to get access to their own money is disheartening and evil.


“It is unacceptable that a country of laws with a plethora of government and security services in place is unable to curb these crimes against the people and bring perpetrators to book.


“Congress is not interested in the blame game going on in government and political circles, neither is it fascinated by the endless promises and assurances made by the Federal Government that the situation will soon be brought under control.


“We are worried and wish to note that smaller denominations of N100 naira notes and N50 notes were not affected by the Naira redesign, but paradoxically not in circulation anywhere in the country. President Muhammadu Buhari needs to give a marching order to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the commercial banks to make available the legal tender, unconditionally to Nigerians without further delay.


“All it demands is the immediate return to normalcy so that Nigerians who are already subjected to an unprecedented runaway inflation, can have access to their hard-earned money.


“Again, the lengthy explanations on why there are long queues at fuel stations and prices of PMS being far above the official price can no longer be tolerated. All we demand is that petrol returns to fuel stations and is available at the official price across the country.


“We warn that the time for government to act is now before the situation gets out of hand and the populace take matters into their own hands. The hope is that political office holders and the political class would heed our advice.


“Congress is however, not going to wait in perpetuity for the political leadership to put on its thinking cap. Therefore, we demand that the Federal Government within seven days, beginning from Tuesday 7th February, 2023 provides a solution to the twin problems of currency unavailability and fuel shortages.


“The leadership of TUC shall be monitoring the situation closely and will give further directive should the situation not improve. All State Council executives are hereby put on red alert.


“Nigeria belongs to the people, not to the government or the birds of passage who hold power. We should therefore be willing to make the needed sacrifices, if necessary, to salvage the country,” the statement read.

However, President Muhammadu Buhari held a close door meeting with the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Aminu Tambuwal; and the Chairman of the Progressives Governors’ Forum, Atiku Bagudu over the scarcity of the three naira notes.


The meeting held at the President’s office at the State House, Abuja.

Also in attendance at the meeting was the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele; the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa; as well as the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Lucky Irabor.


The meeting originally scheduled with the Nigerian Governors’ Forum was cancelled, for reasons not clearly stated.


The President had on 3 February, met with the Governors of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and some of the governors had asked that the President intervene to allow both the old and new notes co-circulate to ease cash crunch recorded across the country.


The President was said to have cancelled it in view of the court order forbidding government from extending the 10 February, 2023 deadline for the swapping of three old naira notes.


The presence of the CBN governor on Tuesday, however, gave indications that the meeting was organized ostensibly to discuss the cash swap policy which has for days elicited public outcry, particularly from the governors.


None of the participants at the meeting agreed to speak to the media.

Also, The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu, on Tuesday, attended a meeting with the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele.

Yakubu was accompanied by 11 INEC National Commissioners.

In his address, the INEC Chairman noted that the meeting was because of the apex bank’s unique role in the conduct of elections. However, this meeting is particularly focused on the recent cash withdrawal policy of the CBN.


In November 2022, President Muhammadu Buhari unveiled the redesigned N200, N500, N1,000, restating the CBN’s plans to end the circulation of the old notes by January 31, 2023. It however extended the deadline to Feb 10


The INEC boss said the Commission is challenged by this policy as there exist lots of services the Commission must render with cash.


According to him, most of the logistics services that would be needed in the elections would be rendered by the unbanked, and relying on cash payment.


Yakubu added that he is in the meeting to discuss with the CBN governor about how best to address the situation.


In his response, Emefiele reiterated the CBN’s long standing support for INEC, adding that it will continue to do so.

He assured the Commission that because of the premium the CBN placed on the elections, the CBN will make whatever is needed available for INEC to pay for its logistics.


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