The President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, has blamed the dysfunctional state of the country’s refineries on the profiting few who have allegedly been encouraged by failed leadership over the years.
He stated this during an interview with Channels Television on Thursday.
He spoke against the backdrop of the federal government’s plan to remove fuel subsidy.
Nigerians, currently paying between N162 and N165 for a litre of petrol, may start paying at least N302 per litre of petrol from February if the recommendation of the ad hoc committee of the National Economic Council (NEC) is implemented.
The NEC, however, said on Thursday that it had not taken a final decision on the issue of subsidy, adding that it was still consulting relevant people and institutions, including the NLC.
Mr Wabba said the removal of fuel subsidy would compound citizens’ hardship and may also send many to their “early graves.”
He vowed that the union will resist the government within its capacity at all levels.
“We have every reason not to import refined products. We have four refineries that are moribund. Those refineries are new; they are not old. In India, we have a refinery that is 100 years old. Refineries can be refurbished. Refineries can be upgraded from one refining capacity to another. This can be done.
“Those refineries are not old. Deliberately, they are made not to work just because there are a lot of incentives,” Mr Wabba said.
When asked to name those getting the incentives, the labour chief pointed directly to the suppliers as well as those fixing the price.
He lamented how both past and current governments used the problem to campaign but ended providing no solutions once they got to power.
“If you remember, the issue of the refineries has been on for a very long time. Each government will come and say I will fix it and at the end of the day, it will not be fixed for the same reason we have mentioned,” he lamented.
Mr Wabba spoke a few hours after a former Head of State, Abdulsalami Abubakar, also cautioned President Muhammadu Buhari against forging ahead with his plan to remove fuel subsidy.
PREMIUM TIMES reported Mr Abubakar lamenting the troubling condition of Nigeria’s security and the role of economic condition in it.
“There is a continuous rise in the prices of food items beyond the reach of many Nigerians. On top of all these, fuel prices are expected to rise significantly in the coming months as announced last November. We all know that when this happens, it will push many millions of Nigerians into poverty,” he said.
Although there has not been a direct statement from Mr Buhari on his plan to increase fuel price in the coming months, his Minister of Finance, Budget and Planning, Zainab Ahmed, gave the indication last year.
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, who spoke after a meeting with Mr Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Tuesday, said the latter did not direct anyone to remove petrol subsidy.
“Many of us are very concerned with the recent agitations, protests and many citizens were so concerned, our constituents across the country are very worried that the federal government will remove the petroleum subsidy. And for us as legislators representing the people, this must be of interest to us.
“And we’ve just finished our recess, we had gone home to our constituencies and senatorial districts. We felt the pulse of our people. And I found it necessary to visit Mr President, as the leader of our government and our leader in the country, to discuss this particular issue of concern to Nigerians. I’m happy to inform Nigerians that Mr President never told anyone that the petroleum subsidy should be removed,” Mr Lawan had said
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