Nigeria Labour warns govt over planned hike in fuel prices

17 November 2012, Sweetcrude, ABUJA – THE Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, the umbrella body of Nigerian workers, has rejected fresh plans by the Federal Government to hike the price of petrol.

The congress said it would call out Nigerian workers to resist any surreptitious move to increase the prices of petroleum products in the country.

NLC President, Mr. Abdulwahed Omar, in reaction to President Goodluck Jonathan’s statement on Thursday that removal of subsidy was an economic imperative, warned that any increase in the price of fuel would lead to a crisis as the congress would call out Nigerians to resist it.

He made the declaration in a press statement issued on Friday. The statement contended that the January protests would seem a child’s play compared to what might follow any attempt to deregulate the downstream
sector of the oil industry, which in government language meant increases in pump price of fuel.

Omar called on President Goodluck Jonathan to focus government attention on the need to frontally tackle the corruption that had held the nation’s oil sector hostage.

The statement reads, “With the wave of revelations regarding monumental corruption in the Petroleum industry it will be unimaginable to contemplate any other thing than focusing on ridding the industry of the
endemic corruption that has become so pervasive in the industry.

“Nigerians would love to see President Goodluck Jonathan dissipate energy on fighting corruption in the industry as he promised Nigerians. All those so far indicted in corrupt practices in the Fuel Subsidy scam have
not yet been prosecuted. More revelations on corruption keep coming out by the day.

“The argument proffered that domestic refining of Petroleum products is only possible under private operators cannot be defended. Our refineries were built and operated successfully as fully public owned enterprises
in the past until the industry was massively inflicted with corruption and home for corrupt government officials and their cronies, the refineries functioned well.

“Today, the problem with the petroleum industry is largely lack of decency and political will on the part of the government to deal with those who have already been identified as having corruptly enriched themselves
with funds meant for the industry.

“We believe Mr. President is not being honest with Nigerians about the real problems of the industry. The same President who set up several committees to identify the crisis in the industry and who have been given detailed
reports by the committees cannot validly say he is still helpless.

“Some of the committees, including those set up by the National Assembly, particularly the House of Representatives Adhoc Committee led by Hon. Farouk Lawan identified not just the problems of the industry but specifically named individuals and companies who have diverted subsidies meant for the industry to private use. Majority of them are political associates of those
in power.

“Indeed, the President has been seen severally hobnobbing in public with some of the key persons indicted by the reports.”

Continuing, NLC said, “In a decent society, all those who have been indicted by all the reports would have been facing accelerated prosecution or serving severe jail terms for committing economic crimes injurious to
public interest.

“As at this moment, N1.7 trillion meant to subsidize the industry has been diverted by identified private individuals and companies and the government is not in any hurry to prosecute the alleged thieves. We can’t therefore
understand why the President is in so much haste to inflict deeper poverty on Nigerians.’’

About the Author

  • Toothless NLC…

  • Nigerians have been at the receiving end of misrule far longer than we care to enumerate. Even though we had and still support the complete deregulation of the downstream petroleum sub-sector for reasons we had articulated on these pages in the past, we wish to state that it isn’t enough for the government to wake up one morning and foist such fundamental change as complete deregulation represents, without carrying out adequate sensitization of the people, and, or detailing the processes and putting in place some measures to mitigate the full impact on the most vulnerable. The government must appreciate its shortcomings and engage experts capable of delivering. Surely, the government cannot in good concscience engage the services of a lawyer to do the job of a medical doctor and expect effective results.

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