18 March 2016, Sweetcrude, Abuja – Organised labour yesterday called for the resignation of the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachukwu, over a statement credited to him that it was cheaper to import refined petroleum products than refine locally.
The labour unions including the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and the National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria, NUTGTWN, who stated this at the 11th National Delegates Conference of NUTGTWN, advised the minister to withdraw the statement, tender a public apology to Nigerians, failure which Labour would call for his resignation.
The organised labour berated the Minister, insisting that such statement contradicts the principle of President Muhammad Buhari’s administration. The unions accused the minister of working for foreign interest, having been an employee of one of the multi-national oil companies in the country.
The President of Nigeria Labour Congress, Ayuba Wabba said Kachikwu’s comment was not in the best interest of Nigeria.
According to him, Nigeria cannot develop when it imports all it needs, adding that except the nation’s industries were brought back on track, the country’s aspiration to prosperity will remain a mirage.
President of the Textile Workers union, Comrade Issa, in his remark, said the Minister’s statement did not add up to the mission statement of his Ministry “which is to maximise the benefits of the sector, oil and gas so that we can use these resources for national development.”
Describing the comment as “extremely dangerous,” he said Nigeria cannot maximise the benefits of the petroleum sector when its minister holds the view that it is cheaper to import than to produce locally.”
He regretted that going by Central Bank of Nigeria’s Report, the country spends about 12 billion dollars annually on fuel importation adding that more than the payment of school children fees abroad, the payment for imported fuel constituted the biggest pressure on the exchange rate.
He disclosed that Aliko Dangote is spending about 11 billion dollars to establish the largest refinery in the world with a capacity to refine 65,000 barrel per day in Nigeria, calculating that if the same amount spent on fuel importation yearly was reserved for the building of local refineries, Nigeria would have refineries scattered everywhere.
While charging the Federal Government to take a cue from Dangote, he said that setting up of local refineries will add value to the petroleum sector, create the much-needed jobs as well as save the scarce foreign exchange.
Also speaking at the event, elder statesman and pioneer minister of Mines and Power, Dr Mataima Sule, who said he built and commissioned the Port Harcourt refineries as a minister, decried the continued importation of refined products into the country, saying Nigeria had no business importing petroleum products.