Stop importation of petroleum products, fix refineries ― NLC tells Buhari

• Says fuel price reduction won't address endemic challenges

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has challenged President Muhammadu Buhari to fix the nation’s refineries and stop the importation of petroleum products.

The congress, on Thursday, expressed concerns over the recent reduction in the price of petroleum from N143 to N125, saying that it received the news with mixed feelings.

President of NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, said the recent price reduction would never address the endemic challenges and confusion in the nation’s downstream petroleum sub-sector.

Beyond the reduction in the price of PMS, the NLC president pointed out that the government should fix the refineries and stop the importation of refined petroleum products into the country.

Wabba said: “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.

“First, is the criminal neglect by successive Nigerian governments of all our public petroleum refineries. That is a serious economic sabotage against the Nigerian people.

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“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.

“Second, the downward adjustment of the pump prices of refined petroleum products does not address the inefficiencies and corruption in our downstream petroleum sub-sector. The persistence of the so-called ‘subsidy’ costs, pipeline vandalism, artisanal refining and smuggling of refined petroleum products all indicate very fundamental flaws with the management of our petroleum resources and assets.”

Also, he stated that the organised labour was concerned about the surrendering of the benefits of the crude oil to international market forces to the exclusion of the majority of Nigerians.

He added, “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, we are certain that periodic adjustment, upward or downward of the pump price of refined petroleum products would never assuage the desire of the ordinary Nigerian to enjoy to a reasonable extent, resources that God has put in abundance in our environment and under our control.”

According to Wabba: “We would not be surprised if the pump price of PMS is adjusted tomorrow to N200 or more and the same reason for the current downward review is canvassed by government. 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 50per cent, yet price reduction is barely up to 20 per cent.

“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.

“We call on government to demonstrate patriotic governance of our national resources by ensuring the resuscitation of our four public petroleum refineries. 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.”

The NLC president, however, warned that Nigerians will resist any future increase in the price of refined petroleum prices.

Nigeria Tribune

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