Sunday, December 4Inside Business Africa

NLC seeks extension of fuel price reduction to other products

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has urged the Federal Government to extend price reduction to other petroleum products such as aviation fuel, kerosene and diesel.

Congress President, Ayuba Wabba, who stated this in Abuja, noted that the price reduction of petroleum has not addressed the endemic challenges and confusion in the downstream petroleum sub-sector.

He added: “While we appreciate that the step taken by government was in the right direction, we are concerned that the price reduction did not cut across the array of other refined petroleum products.

“We also wish to state that the recent price reduction would never address the endemic challenges and confusion in our downstream petroleum sub sector.”

He blamed the continuous importation of petroleum products into the country, which is a major driver of high prices saying, “it is the criminal neglect by successive Nigerian governments of all our public petroleum refineries. That is a serious economic sabotage against the Nigerian people. Our failure as a country to add value to our crude oil and the resort to the importation of refined petroleum products expose us as a most unserious people who are negligent of their basic duties. There is no acceptable reason or basis for the continued importation of refined petroleum products into Nigeria.”

He observed that the downward adjustment of the pump prices of refined petroleum products does not address the inefficiencies and corruption in our downstream petroleum sub sector.

He maintained that the persistence of ‘subsidy’ costs, pipeline vandalism, artisanal refining and smuggling of refined petroleum products all indicate very fundamental flaws with the management of petroleum resources and assets.

Wabba highlighted that the organized labour is concerned about the surrendering of the benefits of Nigeria’s crude oil to international market forces to the exclusion of majority of Nigerians.

He said: “It is unthinkable that we are paying a global rate for a product God has richly endowed us just because our political leaders have failed to do the commonsensical – fix our refineries!”

Given the volatility in the international crude oil market and susceptibility to shocks of the prices of refined petroleum products, he said labour is certain that periodic adjustment, upward or downward of the pump price of refined petroleum products would never assuage the desire of the ordinary Nigerian.

He submitted that it would not be surprising if the pump price of PMS is adjusted upwards any moment from now.

The NLC chief further said the fundamentals used to determine the prevailing N125 per litre still remained unknown.

His words: “As a matter of fact, we are yet to understand the basis for the current reduction as the price of crude oil has fallen by more than 50%, yet price reduction is barely up to 20%. Certainly, subjecting the availability and affordability of refined petroleum products in Nigeria to international market forces is a perfect recipe for economic disaster and social chaos.”

He urged the Federal Government to demonstrate patriotic governance of national resources by ensuring the resuscitation of the existing four public petroleum refineries.

Wabba also stated that private-owned refineries should not be substitutes for public refineries, saying, “While we welcome the emergence of private refineries, we implore government to respect the provisions of Chapter 2 of our constitution which mandates government to take control of the commanding heights of our economy especially our downstream petroleum sub sector in the interest of citizens. We cannot outsource governance to the private sector. Government has business in business.”

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