President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has on Monday reiterated the unions rejection of the recent increase in the price of petrol by the federal government.
In a statement on Monday by Ayuba Wabba, the union as well demanded the immediate reversal of the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) saying that the hike has worsened the level of pain and anguish in the country.
The Federal Government had announced a new pump price band for petroleum products, raising the ex-depot price of petrol to N155.17, making marketers sell between N165 and N173 per litre to consumers.
And recalling the earlier meeting between FG and organize labour, the statement read “The recent increase in the pump price of PMS is clearly against the spirit and content of what Organized Labour agreed with government at the last negotiations over the last fuel price increase.”
It added that the development has questioned the explanations made by the government on the payment of subsidy.
“It has also cast in very bad light our utmost good faith with regards to government explanations that it lacks funds to continue bankrolling the so-called subsidy payments as such would sooner than later cripple the entire economy, throw the country into severe economic crisis and cause loss of jobs in millions.”
The union insisted that the nation would not have been in its present position if the government had been alive to its responsibilities.
“While we await the full recovery of our refineries as contained in our agreement with government, Nigerians cannot be made to bleed endlessly for the failures of successive government to properly manage our refineries, ensure value for money for the numerous Turn Around Maintenance (TAM) which were poorly and barely executed and the horrifying lack of interest in prosecuting public officials and private business people who have profited from the rot in our petroleum sector and the collective misery they have imposed on the general population.”
The statement warned that “There is a limit to what the citizens can tolerate if this abysmal increases in the price of refined petroleum products and other essential goods and services continue.”
While we fix our refineries, there are a number of options open to government to stem the tide of high prices of refined petroleum products. One is for government to declare a state of emergency in our downstream petroleum sector. As a follow up to this, government should enter into contract refining with refineries closer home to Nigeria.
This will ensure that the cost of supplying of crude oil is negotiated away from prevailing international market rate so that the landing cost of refined petroleum products is significantly reduced.
Government should also demonstrate the will to stamp out the smuggling of petroleum products out of Nigeria. We need to see big-time petroleum smugglers arraigned in the court of law and made to pay for their crimes against the Nigerian people. Government has the resources available to it to ensure this economic justice to Nigerians.
A number of recommendations were made by the apex labour body to FG including but not limited to “going headlong against major financiers of the major political parties known to the public as the architects of the current national woe and reviewing the entire process of licensing for modular and bigger refineries. It is queer to depend on the enterprise of one man to fix Nigeria’s downstream petroleum subsector. The more public and private refineries in play, the higher the competition.”
The statement though silent on what action it would take if the increased price was not reversed, says the outcome of this engagement will determine their response in the coming days.