By Gift Olivia Samuel, The Sight News
Following the recent reduction in the pump price of the Premium Motor Spirit(PMS), otherwise known as ‘fuel’ from N143 to N125, the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC has urged the Federal government to go beyond the reduction, to fix the country’s ailing refineries .
The Congress noted that while it appreciates that the step taken by government was in the right direction, it is concerned that the price reduction did not cut across the array of other refined petroleum products.
NLC also stated that the recent price reduction would ‘never’ address the endemic challenges and confusion in the country’s downstream petroleum sub sector.
Addressing the Press on Thursday in Abuja, the NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, said the downward adjustment of the pump prices of refined petroleum products does not address the inefficiencies and corruption in the downstream petroleum sub sector.
According to him, “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.
“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”.
Wabba noted that organized labour is concerned about the surrendering of the benefits of the nation’s crude oil to international market forces to the exclusion of majority of Nigerians.
“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.
“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 50%, yet price reduction is barely up to 20%.
“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”, he said.
NLC called on government to demonstrate patriotic governance of the country’s national resources by ensuring the resuscitation of the 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”, he emphasized.
Wabba warned that Nigerians will resist any future increase in the price of refined petroleum prices.