Comrade Abdulwaheed Omar
By Damilola Oyedele
The Nigeria Labour Congress Friday warned the federal government against increasing the price of petroleum products under any guise saying "the waves of protests and mass action that would follow such move would make January strike seem like child's play."
President of the Congress, Abdulwaheed Omar in a statement issued yesterday said statements credited to President Goodluck Jonathan that only the removal of fuel subsidy would allow for domestic refining of fuel "was highly disturbing especially as Nigerians are already suffering hardship on fuel queues."
Said the NLC: "The government does not seem to be interested in prosecuting those identified by reports as having diverted N1.7 trillion subsidy funds. Government has enough reports and details to embark on a sincere prosecution of those indicted in fraud in the subsidy regime.
"With the wave of revelations regarding monumental corruption in the petroleum industry, it will be unimaginable to contemplate any other thing than focusing on ridding the industry of the endemic corruption that has become so pervasive in the industry."
Omar called on the president to channel his energy into fighting corruption in the country even as more revelations on corruption continue to come out.
"A lack of political will on the part of the government to prosecute those fingered is responsible for the lingering problems in the oil sector, as the President continues to publicly associate with some of those fingered in some of the reports.
"The argument proffered that domestic refining of petroleum products is only possible under private operators cannot be defended. Our refineries were built and operated successfully as fully public owned enterprises in the past and until the industry was massively inflicted with corruption and home for corrupt government officials and their cronies, the refineries functioned well.
"The same President who set up several committees to identify the crisis in the industry and who has been given detailed reports by the committees cannot validly say he is still helpless," it added.
The Congress identified the report of the House of Representatives Adhoc Committee led by Hon. Farouk Lawan as one that specifically mentioned names of individuals and companies that diverted the subsides.
"No responsible government will allow private interests to hold her hostage against the collective interests of the people. It is becoming apparent that those in power seem more inclined to serving individual interests than protecting our collective treasures. And we will massively mobilize Nigerians against his new anti people plans," Omar said.