•To compel workers to stay home should the scarcity persists
Paul Obi in Abuja
The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) on Thursday took a swipe at the federal government over the lingering fuel scarcity in the country.
The body also warned that should the scarcity persists, it would be left with no other option than to ask workers to stay at home until government makes fuel available.
NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, in a statement said the current scarcity was an attempt by invisible hands to hoodwink Nigerians into accepting the privatisation of the nation’s refineries.
According to him, “We are disturbed by the recurring scarcity of petroleum products, especially petrol, which has caused long queues at some fuel stations that are selling while many closed their gates with claims of non-availability of the product.
“Nigerians are yet to be told what the cause of the current scarcity is. We however believe government will not allow any individual or corporate organisations sabotage efforts to restore sanity and good governance in all facets of our society as it is obvious the ongoing scarcity is a calculated sabotage by petroleum marketers to sell the products at high prices for more profits.
“Petroleum products, especially petrol, is key to our economy as it is what powers commuters, including workers, offices and businesses. The delays motorists contend with in long queues at petrol stations have led to loss of unimaginable man hours which have impacted negatively on our economy.”
The NLC president said: “We therefore call on the government to strongly intervene by sending out appropriate agencies, especially the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), to enforce the sale of the products as some marketers have been reported to be hoarding the products.
“We restate our call for the speedy reactivation of local production of petroleum products as the country will continue to be held hostage by global economic manipulations if we remain tied to importation of petroleum products even when we have the resources to produce for local consumption and export.
“While it is regrettable that bad governance, misplaced priorities and corruption have almost killed the petroleum industry, we believe a serious government can revamp the industry within one year. There are examples of countries, especially neighbouring Republic of Niger, where one of the best refineries was built within a year. Nothing stops this government from doing same.”
Wabba explained that “despite their perilous states, we have it on authority that our four refineries are still some of the best in the world and can be turned around and even have their capacity upgraded; all that is required is to have effective Turn Around Maintenance conducted on them.
“The refineries are not beyond repairs. They have been abandoned to ensure Nigerians are ambushed by proponents of privatisation who believe every sector must be privatised. Those advocating for the sale of the refineries are waiting to buy them because they know the refineries are still the best.”
According to him, “Indeed, we believe the recurrent scarcity of petroleum products is part of the roadmap designed by forces who wish to hoodwink us into accepting privatisation of the refineries.
“We will not accept a situation where major oil companies operating in Nigeria will have refineries in other countries where they ship our crude for refining and sell what they refined from our crude through importers of petroleum products to our country. Why have they not built their own refineries in Nigeria?
“It makes no common sense that this situation continues. While our resources are enriching other countries and creating jobs for citizens of other countries, our country and citizens are groaning under high currency exchange rates, deepening unemployment and infrastructural collapse.”
He said: “Government must demonstrate seriousness in our collective affairs through decisive interventions in revamping the petroleum industry and stamping out corruption.
“We can’t continue to be import dependent and expect our economy to grow. When ordinary citizens lament over the excruciating hardship unleashed on us by bad governance, what we expect is for our government to rescue us by rebuilding all infrastructures that have hindered our growth as a result of past neglect or deliberate damages done to them in the past.
“The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) must immediately intervene in the current hardship imposed by the scarcity of petroleum products as this may hinder the ability of workers to get to their work stations. We will be compelled to tell workers to stay at home should the scarcity persists,” he submitted.