The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) say the lingering fuel shortages and price hike in the country are no longer tenable, urging the Buhari regime to end the exploitation. The presidents of NLC and the TUC said this in a statement, signed by Ayuba Wabba and Festus Osifo on Saturday in Abuja. The labour leaders described the situation as avoidable, unnecessary, crippling and pain-inducing fuel shortages and unapproved price hike of up to N240 per litre in the country. They warned “no excuse is good enough to cripple the country.” If there are challenges, they should be fixed. We have a government in power to fix challenges, not to make excuses,’’ they said in their statement. The statement said the labour leaders were bewildered and disturbed by the persistent shortage and uncontrollable prices that players in the downstream sector of the petroleum industry were meting out to Nigerians. “All these have tragic consequences for the Nigerian people and debilitating effects on the health of the economy which itself is not in good state. “We are reliably informed that the shortage is deliberately fostered by players in the downstream sector in order to hike the price far above the government approved threshold. “It is an added problem, when non-state actors begin to arrogate to themselves the power to determine the price of a litre of fuel far above the rate pegged by the government in the current subsidy regime,” it said.
The labour leaders also said that the Nigerian people and the taxpayers currently spend trillions of naira annually to subsidise petrol. They added that the same people could not be exploited and made to pay over N240 per litre when the current ex-depot price was N148.19k per litre.
Their statement noted that the opportunity cost of the subsidy payment was enormous and yet the benefits of the subsidy regime are gradually being eroded.
According to them, no country develops when its people are subjected to perennial hardship and its industries are shackled by unnecessary chains of miseries.
“It is more disturbing that the government is equally demonstrating a high level of culpability in the unwholesome situation by its silence and unwillingness to frontally and publicly address the harrowing experiences in the current situation.
“No concerned and responsive government will bury its head in the sands like the proverbial Ostrich while the citizens are being brutally exploited.
“We are strongly worried that leaving our energy security and sovereignty in the hands of unscrupulous capitalists and their collaborators will further plunge this nation into the economic abyss we are working hard to avoid,” it said.
The statement said that Organised Labour is ready and willing to engage the Federal Government and assist in all ways possible to overcome the country’s present challenges.
It called on the regulatory and law enforcement agencies to do more to protect Nigerians from exploitation. NAN