The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has warned that the Federal Government should not talk about; or contemplate fuel price increase; even as it stated that subsidy is a cover-up for inefficiency and corrupt in the system.
The NLC gave this position, as the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), warned that the Dangote Refinery, when ready is not obliged to sell to Nigeria market.
The NLC General Secretary, Comrade Emmanuel Ugboaja, and the Secretary-General of PENGASSAN, Comrade Lumumba Okugbawa, who spoke to Tribune Online on the pronouncement by the NNPC over the removal of subsidy, said the Federal Government should quickly fix the nation’s four refineries and embark on the building of modular refineries.
Angered that the issue of subsidy removal has refused to die down more than 15 years of preferring solutions to the crises in the oil and gas sector, the NLC called for the removal of the people who cannot fix the system, to leave the stage for those who have the capacity to do it.
“People who can’t fix that should give way for people who can do it to come in. This is no longer the era of people just hanging in office for hanging sake. It should be for people who are willing and capable of delivering. Not for people who will only want it to be written in their epitaph that they once served in this capacity when there is nothing to so for it.” The General Secretary of NLC, Comrade Ella Ugboaja told Tribune Online.
According to Ugboaja, Nigerians should be tired of this, “we have had this position for the past 15 years and the government has not done it. We shouldn’t be playing their games.”
The NLC General Secretary said: “We should not be talking of price increase for now, yes, because when you hear them talk about subsidy, it is a cover-up for inefficiency and corrupt in the system. So for a country that produces crude at a quantity we have, a country that should be refining, with the level of technology that has gone into refining, if a private individual like Dangote is putting up such a gigantic refinery within a short time, what has stopped successive Nigeria government, including the current one from doing so?
“What constitute subsidy is hinged on demurrage, bridging the gap, uploading and offloading, things that wouldn’t make sense if we are producing locally.
“Our position is that we have no business discussing anything called subsidy. Our position is long-standing, that we should produce our crude, refine it, and use it in Nigeria and export.
“So, anybody that thrived himself as an expert on subsidy management is being a complete de-service to our country, people should bury their faces in shame discussing subsidy when they should be producing and selling to people.
“If you said there is no subsidy, what price are you increasing? Is it the government that will increase the price? Our position is that government should busy itself, should concentrate and make all our four refineries work. If our four refineries are working and we employ the new technology of modular refineries then we shouldn’t be discussing this.
“These are discussions that have gone too long for any reasonable person to still be bored down by it. If we have Petroleum Engineers, we have our former MDs at OPEC level, which means we understand both Engineering, technical and marketing aspect in the industry, this is not the type of discussion we should be having. We should be having a discussion on how we dominate the African Continent market with our refined products and give the extra unrefined crude to the rest of the world. That is where our direction should be.”
Also the Secretary-General of PENGASSAN, Comrade Lumumba said: “Our position is that we should concentrate more on local production instead of importing fuel. If we are doing local production, we don’t need to talk about either subsidy or fund recovery since everything will be done here.
“But then, we still know that the refineries still have their own challenges but we are happy to hear that they are listening to some of our suggestions which say that they should change the business model of the refineries. They have inserted the issue of using the NNLG Model, the government will have 49%, and investors will have 51%. With this, the government monitors their incomes and provides logistics. In such a way, the refineries will change their operations, they can even expand.
“So, since you don’t need to import, all these grammar of whether there is a subsidy, or there is no subsidy, won’t be there. We are going to face a lot of challenges, now they have allowed marketers to start importing, how would they recover their funds.”
Asked if it means the pump price has to go up, he said, “that is what I was saying, it will go to the market forces of demand and supply. If I import, and the landing cost and everything I incurred is N140 per litre, I will sell more than N140 per litre, more than the current N108 or N102.
“If you say you remove subsidy, they are also calling for total deregulation, and when you talk of total deregulation, you allow market forces to determine.
“We also call for additional private investors; for example, Dangote coming in on his own, he is not obliged to even sell to Nigeria market. He can sell it internationally. We encourage many people to come, because based on our consumption, the capacity of the four refineries, even though they are working at an optimal level would not meet the yearning of the people.
“If the power sector is fixed, people demand for PMS to run their generators will reduce, so this will also reduce the demand from what is available. It is not for us saying increase price or reduce price, something has to be done to influence the price. If you have four loaves of bread and 10 people are looking for it, the person selling the bread will increase the price.”