11 June 2015, Abuja – The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Wednesday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to quickly fix the current lingering mess in fuel supply within the country.
NLC in a statement that was signed in Abuja by its acting president, Kiri Mohammed, stated that the scarcity of petrol and its attendant hardships on Nigerians are now in their fourth month without any credible solution from the government so far.
It explained that it would no longer keep mute on the situation, and thus asked Buhari to address the supply deficit immediately.
NLC also took time to disclose that if the current scarcity of petrol was a deliberate ploy by oil marketers to arm-twist the government into deregulating the country’s downstream petroleum sector, that it would not work as the union will firmly oppose such attempts and ensure that they falter.
It therefore reiterated its opposition to deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector.
“The current scarcity of petroleum products entered the fourth month, this month and a credible solution is yet to be provided other than media reports of promises to end the crisis, a crisis that has already further slowed down our national economy and caused hardships to many families and homes, with workers, both in the formal and informal sectors being the most hit,” Mohammed said in the statement.
He further stated that: “It has become extremely difficult for workers to get to work because of the perpetual scarcity of petroleum products, which has burdened their salaries as they now have to pay exorbitant transport fares to commute to work, even as majority of them have not received salaries in months.
“This has become worse as public transportation are scarce due to unavailability of fuel, and this might cause workers to stop resuming at work.”
Admonishing the government on the best way out of the situation, Mohammed said: “While we appreciate the fact that the present government is new, it is important that the it takes full control of the situation and declare an emergency that will ensure the pumps at all fuel stations across the country are selling effectively, and at the official price of N87 per litre.
“Government must not allow itself to be blackmailed, not even by petroleum marketers, to abandon the delivery of goods and services that help our economy out of prevailing doldrums.
“The unavailability of petroleum products and lack of electricity are some of the reasons our economy is down and any serious government must direct serious attention to these,” he added.
He also said: “While we commend the present administration for taking firm steps at confronting the prevalent terror attacks in some parts of the country, we urge government to also see the scarcity of petroleum products as yet another major challenge that must not be treated with kid gloves.”
On the congress’ standing opposition to deregulation, Mohammed said: “This scarcity must end and the government must do much more to ensure it ends otherwise our economy will sure suffer higher damages.
“We however make haste to restate our opposition to the removal of subsidy, if the scarcity is a ploy to arm twist government to do so. Being a major plank of the economy, the petroleum sector should be subsidised. The current scarcity lends more justification for this, given the monumental effect it has negatively impacted on our national economy.”
While calling on government to clean up reported mess in the management of the country’s petroleum sector then deregulating, Mohammed said: “It is apparent that the petroleum industry is enmeshed in corruption, totally seized by a cabal of criminals who have been beneficiaries of a loose system, but government can’t abdicate its responsibilities on mere grounds of a tiny few using the ineffectiveness and sleaze of the system to deny the Nigerian people quality and productive life.
“Till date, none of the people accused of compromising fuel subsidy funds have been effectively prosecuted, jailed or compelled by any court to return monies so looted to the public treasury.
Ordinary Nigerians should not be made to suffer the consequence of the ineptitude of any arm of government, and the new government must also not allow itself to be trapped in helplessness.
We need fuel, and our government must endeavor to ensure we have it shortly,” Mohammed demanded.
– This Day