As Nigerians await the full benefits of last Wednesday’s reduction in the price of petrol in the country, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has asked the federal government to go beyond that and fix the refineries.
The NLC in a statement on Thursday by its President, Ayuba Wabba, said news of the reduction in the pump price of petrol, from N143/N145 per litre to N125 was received with mixed feelings.
“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,” Mr Wabba said.
He said the NLC was fully convinced that the petrol price reduction would never address the endemic challenges and confusion in the country’s downstream petroleum sub-sector.
Mr Wabba described the neglect of public refineries by successive Nigerian governments as “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 said.
The downward adjustment of the pump prices of refined petroleum products, he noted, does not address the inefficiencies and corruption in the country’s downstream petroleum sub-sector.
READ ALSO: Charter of Demands for a New Nigeria
The persistence of the so called ‘subsidy’ costs, pipeline vandalism, artisanal refining and smuggling of refined petroleum products, the NLC president said, are all indicative of very fundamental flaws with the management of the country’s petroleum resources and assets.
He said organised labour was concerned about the surrendering of the benefits of Nigeria’s crude oil to international market forces to the exclusion of majority of Nigerians.
Mr Wabba said it was unthinkable that Nigerians are made to pay a global rate for a product God has richly endowed the country, just because the political leaders failed to fix the nation’s refineries.
Given the volatility in the international crude oil market and the susceptibility to shocks of refined petroleum products prices, he said periodic adjustments of fuel price would not assuage the ordinary Nigerians’ desire for the resources bestowed in their environment.
He criticized the reduction of petrol price by 20 per cent when the price of crude oil has fallen by more than 50 per cent, describing it as “a perfect recipe for economic disaster and social chaos.”
Calling on government to rehabilitate the country’s four refineries, the NLC president welcomed the emergence of private refineries, and enjoined government to take control of the country’s economy, especially the downstream petroleum sub-sector in the interest of citizens.
“We cannot outsource governance to the private sector. Government has business in business. Nigerians will resist any future increase in the price of refined petroleum prices,” the NLC warned.