Fuel subsidy removal, a declaration of war – NLC

12 October 2011, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) says it would not accept the plan by the Nigerian governmnt to remove subsidy on fuel under any circumstance.

This position was expressed by one of its senior officials, but it differed from the one credited to the Trade Union Congress.

President of the TUC, Peter Esele, had said at the weekend that organised labour would accept the government’s proposal if certain conditions were met.

One of the conditions the TUC president reportedly mentioned was that the government should justify how it intended to spend the proceeds from the subsidy removal.

But, General Secretary of the NLC, Mr. Owei Lakemfa, on Monday that the the government did not have any reason to increase the price of petroleum products in January.

“The position of the NLC is that this move by the government would lead to anarchy. It is a provocative act. It is a declaration of war against Nigerians and Nigerians have a duty to prepare for this war,” Lakemfa said.

He said that the move to increase the fuel price was indicative of the ignorance of the government about the state of poverty in the country and the magnitude of the suffering to which the common man had been subjected to.

He also said that the claim by the proponents of deregulation that the Federal Government would save some money from the subsidy for poverty alleviation and developmental purposes was not different from the “lies” that marked the government of former military dictator, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, in the 1990s.
Lakemfa said what the government termed as subsidy was charges incurred because of the inability of the government to ensure effective utilisation of the nation’s resources to the benefit of the citizenry.

He said, ‘The issue of subsidy is a result of the importation of finished products. The Federal Government sells 100 percent of its crude oil without refining any for local consumption and without adding value to the commodity. Then the same government goes to the international market to buy petroleum products at a very high price.

“So, what the government describes as subsidy includes freight, insurance, evacuation of the finished product from large vessels to small ones for transportation to the Atlas cove in Lagos, port charges demurrage and others.

“If we refine our products, we will not need these charges which the Federal Government calls subsidy. It is very clear that by attempting to increase the fuel pump price, government is visiting its inefficiency on Nigerians”

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