NLC rejects fuel price increase, demands return to old price
• It might be last straw that breaks the camel’s back - It warns
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Wednesday outrightly rejected the new increase in the price of petroleum product as announced by the Federal Government through the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) on Tuesday.
The congress said the Nigerian workers say no to such increase and unanimously refuse to pay for the cost of inefficiencies on its path, saying that the government simply want to transfer the cost of its own inefficiencies to the Nigerian people.
It warned that this latest increase might just be the last straw that would break the camel’s back; saying that the primary motive behind the increase is to protect investors, increase their profit at the expense of poverty-stricken Nigerian masses.
The NLC, therefore, demanded that the Federal Government reverts immediately to the old price; while it also demanded that the four national petroleum refineries must be fixed without further delay.
A statement signed by the President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba, said the congress condemned and rejected the increase in the price of petrol and described the Fuel pump price increase as indefensible.
Wabba said: “It is clear even to the blind that the crisis in our downstream petroleum sub-sector is self (government-inflicted). The refusal by successive governments to fix our national oil refineries is at the root of this problem.
The government simply wants to transfer the cost of its own inefficiencies to the Nigerian people. Nigerian workers say no to such.”
The statement read: “It is grand mischief and deceit to keep comparing apples with mangoes. There is no way Nigerians would accept a situation where we are charged international rates for a product which Nigeria is the sixth-largest producer in the world.
“The extra costs that the PPPRA wants Nigerians to pay in order to promote growth and investment are actually the cost of profits made by countries that we ship our crude oil to, the cost of sea freight of the refined products, the cost of demurrage at our seaports when the refined products arrive, the cost of the frequent devaluation of our national currency, and the cost of official corruption by gatekeepers managing the downstream petroleum sub-sector.
“Nigerians have groaned to pay these unjust costs for years. This latest increase might just be the last straw that would break the camel’s back. We demand that the Federal Government reverts to the old price of petroleum especially given the fact that price of crude oil in the international market has only slightly increased from the previous price before the so-called downward review was announced two months ago.
“We also renew our call for a national conversation on the management of our oil assets which we insist must be in tandem with the provisions our country’s constitution which clearly mandates that the commanding heights of our national economy must be held by the government in the interest of the citizens of Nigeria.
“Finally, we demand that our four national petroleum refineries must be fixed without any further delay. Nigerian workers want to be appraised of the timeline set by the government to ensure that this is effectively done.”
Comrade Wabba said the NLC, in particular, received the news of an increase in the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit commonly called petrol from N121 to N143, with great shock and consternation.
He claimed that the pump price increase was done and announced without the approval of the board of PPPRA, NLC being a member, and the Ministry of Petroleum who oversight the agency.
“That this new hike in the pump price of petrol was announced without the approval of the board of the PPPRA and the oversight ministry speaks volume of the arbitrariness and public contempt in the operations of PPPRA. We find this deeply disturbing.” Wabba said.
He added: “It is unfortunate that Mr Saidu Abdulkadir (Executive Secretary of the PPPRA) did not even feign pretence that government has abdicated its responsibility to protect Nigerians from the cut-throat tendencies of neoliberal market forces. Contrary to the provisions of Chapter 2 of the 1999 Constitution, PPPRA claims that the abdication is not ‘total’.
“When the statement by the PPPRA is juxtaposed with the recent killer electricity charges unveiled by DISCOs, Nigerians cannot help but feel the heat of a potent threat to run millions of Nigerians under. It is even worse that this is coming at a time when our people are living on the precipice of the Covid-19 pandemic.”