Lagos — Following the World Bank advice to the Nigerian Government to remove petroleum subsidy, the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, has cautioned the Federal Government against implementing the recommendation of the International Monetary Fund, IMF, against such move.
Mr. Ayuba Wabba, NLC President, gave the advice at a news conference on Saturday in Abuja.
The news conference was tagged: “Public Declaration of Nigeria’s Host of the 6th African Meeting of Solidarity with Cuba, Sept. 23 to Sept. 25 and Inauguration of Local Organising Committee (LOC).
Wabba said that the continued devaluation of the Nigerian currency had created the impression of the existence of subsidy.
He said that as long as the value of the Naira was left to market forces, the issue of subsidy would continue in the country.
The NLC leader urged that efforts should be made by the government to upgrade the nation’s refineries.
“As President of the International Trade Union Confederation, ITUC, I recently led organised labour across the world to a meeting with the IMF and the World Bank.
“I told them point blank that their one-stop recommendation on subsidy removal and other sundry policy recommendations to the third world are not working and will not work.”
He said that there was no country in the world where IMF’s recommendations had worked “or are working.’’
According to Wabba, Nigeria should be cautious in considering the options suggested by the IMF.
‘’I saw that many media houses are trying to amplify that the IMF has recommended that subsidy should be removed.
“In the first instance, is there a subsidy? This is a question we have not been able to answer.
“And I want to corroborate with what President Buhari said years back that subsidy is actually corruption and that whoever is subsidizing is aiding corruption and we stand by that position.
“In fact, that has remained a consistent position of NLC. We can kill that issue of subsidy if we refine our products for our domestic use and it is not rocket science.
“Very soon, we are going to forward a document to the government on that,’’ he stated.
He noted that “countries like Venezuela are celebrated because they stood their ground on policies that must work for the people and not for the capitalist.’’
According to him, our own case is a sorry one and the situation is even laughable.
“You own crude oil, you pay for it to be extracted from the ground, you pay for it to be taken outside to be refined, you pay for the tax to where you took it to and you also pay to bring it back to your country for consumption.
”This is simply the pathetic story of Nigeria. God Almighty has already given us this resource in abundance, why should our citizens have to suffer to get it for use?
“In the first place, we should only be talking about subsidy if actually, we do not produce this product.
“But whereas we are producing it and in abundance in that matter, yet we suffer like we don’t even own a drop of it.
“This is the shameful ordeal Nigerians go through. It is really a funny situation,’’ he said.
Wabba said that if petroleum was refined in the country, the word “subsidy’’ would be a thing of the past.
On the public declaration of Nigeria as the host of the forthcoming meeting, the NLC president said: “We must never forget the sacrifice of Cuban people for the liberation of most African countries.
“And also for decades, Nigerians have been beneficiaries of Cuban government scholarships and education, most especially in the medical field,’’ he said.
Also speaking, Mr. Carlos Trejo, Cuban Ambassador to Nigeria, commended the NLC and the Nigerian government for their continued support to ensure the freedom of the Cuban people.
Trejo said that Cuba has constantly been attacked due to their support to the Venezuela government to stand on policies that must work for the people.
“We will never abandon the duty to act in solidarity with Venezuela. So we will continue to call for support for our sovereignty from African countries, among others that can support us,” he said.