On Tuesday, The Nigeria Labour Congress and civil rights groups said there was no economic basis in the claim by the Federal Government that the petrol price in the country was among the lowest in Africa.
The NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, in an interview said, government should have situated its argument against the devaluation of the naira and the minimum wage being paid to workers.
Some state chapters of the NLC said the hike in electricity tariff and the petrol price had rendered the N30 000 minimum wage meaningless.
Following the increase of the ex-depot price of petrol by the FG last week, marketers adjusted their pump prices to between N158 and N162 from N148 to N150 in August.
On Monday, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture, said despite the increase in the price of petrol, the price of the commodity in Nigeria remained among the cheapest in Africa.
Reacting to the Minister’s statement, Wabba emphasised that the government failed to acknowledge the fact that the naira had been on free fall for many years and this, had affected the prices of commodities.
The NLC President noted, “That comparison cannot even stand because our currency has been on free fall and it has been devaluated over and over again. So, the basis for comparison is faulty. If they (other countries) have stronger currencies, it means our currency is weak.
“Not only petroleum products but all other commodities are also expensive in Nigeria because of the free fall of the naira. Can they also make the comparison on the basis of the stability of the currencies of other countries over the years and the instability of the Nigerian currency over the last five years? You can then get the answer.”
When asked if the minimum wage was commensurate with the hike in the petrol price and electricity tariff, Wabba said that the government should have considered the impact of its decision on the workers.
He said, “The point we have made is that many Nigerians have been pushed to the edge and it is insensitive to increase the prices of the two commodities at the same time-petroleum products and the electricity. You can see the impact already in the prices of bread which have increased from N250 to N300.”